Exhibit Captures Stills from Haunting Fairy Tales

Enter a world of nightmares and dreamscapes in an Asburk Park gallery.

Exhibit No. 9 in Asbury Park hosts “The Way North,” an otherworldly fine art exhibit by Norwegian photographer Ole Marius Jørgensen. Inspired by the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Jørgensen’s imaginative work captures the strange, chilling world of traditional Scandinavian folklore.

The surreal images were shot on location in the vast, unknowable wilderness of northern Norway, from ancient forests to foreboding seaside cliffs. Jørgensen describes his photographs as “stills from a movie,” with a calculated balance of natural light, dramatic settings, and extraordinary costumes by designer Mikkel Brand Bugge. “Combine all of that plus a really good camera,” Jørgensen says, who uses a full-frame Swedish Hasselblad.

“I try to do everything on set and as little as possible on the computer; I think that just takes away the magic,” says Jørgensen. “I like to go into the forest and wait for the right weather and time the image when the light is just right.” Jørgensen shoots during the “golden hour,” or just before sunrise and sunset, to give his photographs texture. “People tell me, ‘All your images look like paintings,’ and it’s from capturing that light.”

"The Devil" by Ole Marius Jørgensen

“The Devil” by Ole Marius Jørgensen

Legends vary by region in Norway, but almost all describe the Devil as a well-dressed human-like figure with a long nose and crooked chin who lives on a farm. “He likes to play cards,” says Jørgensen, and gambles with locals who want to make a deal with the Devil. The shot was captured on a rural farm in Norway, with the model (a friend of Jørgensen’s) standing on a box to make him look taller.

Perhaps the best known figure of Norwegian folklore is the Fossegrim, a creature that’s neither good nor evil who lives under waterfalls.

"The Fossegrim" by Ole Marius Jørgensen

“The Fossegrim” by Ole Marius Jørgensen

Known for his exceptional skill with the violin (or fiddle), Fossegrim’s enchanting song blends sounds of nature and running water. It is said aspiring musicians may approach the water spirit and ask for a lesson, but they must offer a gift in return—notably meat.

“If you give him a big piece of ham, he will teach you how to play the violin,” says Jørgensen. For the shoot, the creative duo assembled an instrument from items found in nature. “It was a nightmare because the rocks were very slippery, and we couldn’t hear each other over the water.”

"The Bark Man" by Ole Marius Jørgensen

“The Bark Man” by Ole Marius Jørgensen

Some creatures, like “The Bark Man,” are inventions of the imagination. “Mikkel had this idea because he found an old oak tree with lots of fallen bark, so we kind of made-up this character. It was a 20-minute hike into the woods with a smoke machine, and it was a bit of a nightmare with all the mosquitoes,” says Jørgensen. “It was very special for me, sweating and cursing in the forest, instead of sitting in my room and making the image on a computer.”

The wild-looking model is actually Jørgensen’s uncle, who recently retired and was willing to help create his nephew’s vision.

"The Merman" by Ole Marius Jørgensen

“The Merman” by Ole Marius Jørgensen

Jørgensen’s uncle also appears in “The Merman,” a long shot portrait of a weathered figure looking out at the Arctic waters of the Norwegian Sea.

“I tricked him for this shoot,” laughs Jørgensen. “It was the middle of winter and freezing, and when we arrived at the location it was a bit of a surprise. I said, ‘Now get undressed and put on this fishing net.'”

The Way North” runs through June 13.

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