Norwegian end-of-school parties documented in new book

Photographic book ‘The Norwegian Way’ by Jørn Tomter, published in the UK on 20 November, is a documentary of the world's most excessive end-of-school celebration called ‘Russ’ which seems to turn Norway up-side-down every May.

Russ is a three week long party attended by most of the 18-19 year-olds in Norway to celebrate the end of 13 years in school. The revelries commence at the end of April and climax on the Norwegian National Day, May 17th. Jørn Tomter has photographed the youth every May between the years 2003-2007 for the book ‘The Norwegian Way’.

For many, taking part in Russ is a rite of passage, a transitional period when the usual rules and restrictions that govern a teenager's life are forgotten. In order to travel between parties, Russ kids club together to buy buses and vans that they customise and paint throughout their last year at school. They dress up in boiler suits: red, representing all the traditional academic subjects, is the most common colour, but they also come in blue: business and marketing, and black: vocational studies. Finishing off the outfit is a Russ hat, a peaked cap strung with 'knots' or charms that are awarded when special tasks or dares have been completed. Russ is a big commercial presence in Norway, with a whole industry dedicated to selling clothes and party paraphernalia to each graduating year.
The book includes written pieces by Karl Eirik Haug of magazine Carl’s Cars and celebrated author Erlend Loe discussing this “fascinatingly exhaustive celebration”.

Norwegian Jørn Tomter lives in London and Oslo, where he works as a freelance photographer. He studied photography at London College of Printing (now London College of Communication) and has since had several exhibitions. 'The Norwegian Way' is his first book.
The Norwegian Way is designed by Yacht Associates and published by Generation Yacht.

Photos: Jørn Tomter

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Jørn Tomter followed the Russ every May between 2003-2007 for his book ‘The Norwegian Way’.Photo: Jørn Tomter

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