Norway Maniacs: Fans of Tight Jeans, Wedding Dresses, and Dead Princesses
Why would anybody collect wedding dresses or Santa Clauses? How many ballpens do you need to break the Guinness record? To find out, Kristine Wathne found people who collect the most unusual things.
Photographer from Trondheim, Norway. Finished Norwegian School of Photography, is a student at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art. Exhibited her work in Great Britain and Norway. Published her work in VICE, Trip-Mag, and PYLOT Magazine.
— I wanted to start a long-term project where I explored atypical people and subcultures. I was looking for a project where I and the subjects shared the same passion about, and interest in, an atypical lifestyle. For me as a collector and a maniac myself, Mania has sort of became a self-portrait.
The work process started in 2015. I’ve photographed collectors living in different cities in Norway, and Mania the book presents nine of the total 15 meetings. I don’t know if I will be able to find new collectors in Norway. Perhaps, it might be wise to end the game while it’s still fun.
I’ve done research online, been reading through a bunch of old local newspapers, and asked my family and friends if they knew about any originals from their hometown. After researching through all my networks, I’ve gotten a lot of tips and hints about collectors from all over the country. I still keep in touch with some of the collectors I’ve photographed. They are some of the craziest, most inspiring people I have ever met.
I have to say I’ve been quite nervous of what the thoughts of the participants will be on the project altogether. To this date I’ve only received positive feedback. I have assigned all participating in the project with a copy of the Mania book, prints from the shoot, and given them relevant gifts to their collections.
The experience of excluding some of the collectors with no ‘mania factor’ from the book has helped to give me a better understanding of what I want to attach importance to with this project: namely, mania as a lifestyle. The nine collectors in the book not only have a small closet or a single shelf dedicated to their collections, but has devoted their entire home, life, and everyday to their very own fascination.
Love to Wedding Dresses
Jan Roger Elstad wanted to do something that no other man had done before him. He started collecting wedding dresses in 1991. Over 400 dresses are organized and stored in his pink painted basement from different eras — from 1877 to 2015. It all started when he came across a bunch of wedding dresses that were going to be thrown away. Then Elstad took care of the cultural treasure a wedding dress is instead of seeing them being thrown in the trash.
Love to Thailand
Harald Haraldsen travels whenever he gets the chance. He has been to over 46 countries and travelled to Thailand for over 60 times. His living room is traditionally furnished from various continents and cultures, decorated with lightings, souvenirs, and humorous elements. The biggest dominant area of the living room is his large Thai temple that is placed in the middle of the room where he holds ceremonies and funerals.
Love to Ballpens
Rolf Ressem shares his passion with over 400 like minded people in a worldwide pen-collectors club. He has been collecting pens for the past 9 years, and over 13.000 various pens are stored in boxes and suitcases. The most rare and valuable ones are kept safe and are organized in file folders. A few years ago Ressem tried to beat the Guinness World Record — they counted pens for over 48 hours, but sadly he was only missing two pens to beat record.
Love to the Royalty
Maria Toftum became obsessed with royalty after princess Diana died in 1997. She immediately started collecting royalty effects obsessively. When Princess Diana was still alive, Toftum had no interest in royalty at all. Toftum administrates 20 Facebook groups where she posts daily photos of various dead royal persons shared with over 10,000 people in this closed Facebook community.
Love to the 1950s
Karl-Erik Johansen is also known as the 50’s man. Johansen has devoted his entire life and home to his love for the 50’s era. He hates white walls and sterile interiors — you’ll never find mass produced furniture from IKEA in his apartment. By the age of 9, he started collecting LPs. As his collection and himself grew older and bigger, his mom got tired of seeing him spending all his weekly pocket money on LPs and gave him an ultimatum: leave the nest or keep on collecting by himself. Johansen showed me his last LP scoops while he said with a big smile on his face: “I don’t feel the need for a wife or having kids — this is my life — and I’m loving it”. He moved, and over 70,000 LP´s are organized in a separate room dedicated to his collection.
Love to Elvis
Ole Elvis Andersen fascination for Elvis Presley grew bigger and bigger since he was 12 years old. Elvis is central to everything Ole Elvis does — in 1992 he got Elvis added as his middle name, as everybody he knew was calling him Elvis. Raised in a deeply religious family, he was told that the devil would take him to hell if he didn’t stop expressing his love for rock music. He chose Elvis, and rock-and-roll.
Love to Cockpits
Jens Rino Haugens collects aircraft cockpits. The cockpits are being held outside in his courtyard, where he placed nine cockpits from different eras and countries. Inside his house Haugen has an own room dedicated to his aircraft instruments. His biggest dream is to run his own museum.
Love to Tight Jeans
Arve Møllevik realized that he wasn’t the crazy man when someone asked him if he slept while wearing his ultratight jeans. After collecting for over 20 years and cultivated his fascination for 80’s clothing, his closet stacked with over 100 pairs of jeans and unisex tights. The tighter, the better. Shooting wetlook photos in the shower gives Møllevik an adrenalin rush, modelling or being a photographer himself.
Love to Santa
Svein Gjervan shares his home with 2836 Santa Clauses. He has been collecting for over 35 years. His collection grows by about 60-100 new Santas each year. In 2014, he had to move to a bigger house to fit his collection. The Santas are everywhere: in the bathroom, on the kitchen stove, on the TV shelf and so on. Each of the Santas in his collection is different from the other, and if Gjervan gets a Santa as a present that he already has in his collection, he gives them away to his neighbor who shares the same passion.