The 2013 L’Iris d’Or/Sony World Photography Award for Photographer of the Year went to thirty-two year old Norwegian photographer Andrea Gjestvang. Her ‘One Day in History’ consists of a series of portraits of those young people who survived the July 2011 massacre on the island of Utøya.
Catherine Chermayeff, the Jury Chairman, praised the winning entry by saying:
‘One Day in History’ is a quiet, thoughtful and ultimately powerful voice for the children and survivors of the massacre in Norway. We were all moved by the dignity and beauty of these images.
Andrea Gjestvang’s subjects have been photographed in what would appear to be surroundings that they feel safe and secure in, such as at home or with a pet. Meanwhile there are also portraits that have been taken in woodland or near water, possibly referencing back to Utøya. Some of the young people engage the viewer by looking directly at the camera, whilst others look more distant and reflective by looking away.
Knowing the context for this work and remembering all the news broadcasts about that one day in history, makes these images all the more powerful. Furthermore, each image’s description includes information about the subject’s own personal experience of the atrocity. This helps to complete a compelling collection of portraits.
The events of modern day life move at such an increasing rate that we are often directed to the latest headline or news flash. Previously news worthy, headline grabbing events gradually slip from the front page and replaced by something fresh and current. We rarely have the opportunity to let the dust settle and return to the scene of the crime and those most affected. Andrea Gjestvang’s portraits offer this opportunity to return and provide an insight into how the victims may be rehabilitating.