Echoes of Lofoten

Around 1950, families in small and remote fishing villages in Lofoten, Northern Norway, were offered a lump sum from the Government to leave their homes and relocate to more central places. They also committed never to return and resettle. 

This was part of the governmental plan to centralize and modernize the nation after the Second World War. Communities that had survived for centuries in a hostile environment on the border between steep mountains and rough sea, totally isolated during the winter months, collectively decided to leave.

Neighbors and friends through generations packed everything they owned and left their homes and each other. Villages were totally abandoned within months. Due to shortage of building materials, they dismantled their houses and brought their homes with them as well, leaving only foundations. The traditional self-sufficient ways of life were lost, and a part of the coastal culture with it.

Today, 60 years later, nature has reclaimed the areas. Looking closer however, signs of lived lives still remain; stone fences and foundations still stand, surrounded by hidden paths and traces of gardens with herbs and flowers.

In this photographic project, I am bringing families and their lives back to the villages they once lived. Historic photographs from these places are returned to where they once were taken, linking past and present. The project is about passing of time, history, destinies and changes in society. Pictures and their histories are from descendants of those in the pictures.

— Hebe Robinson