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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Grace of Norway

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Norwegian acts whose music touched my life popped up when I conversed with an old friend who relocated to Norway. Grace Emmelot, who flew to the Scandinavian country just months ago, has reason to feel excited. She’s currently holding a photography exhibit at the Philippine embassy in Oslo. Sounds music to my ears.  

Twice, face-to-face, I interviewed the lead singer-main melodist of the duo Fra Lippo Lippi. Yes, Per Sorensen, the iconic voice behind ‘80s classics “Beauty And Madness,” “Angel”, “Light And Shade,” among others, is Norwegian. So are members of the band A-Ha who burst into the scene with “Take On Me,” and later the theme for the James Bond movie The Living Daylights.

Pinay photographer and multimedia designer Grace Emmelot’s rising star sounds music to the ears as her one-woman show ‘Half Circles.’
Pinay photographer and multimedia designer Grace Emmelot’s rising star sounds music to the ears as her one-woman show ‘Half Circles.’

Three personal favorite ‘90s tracks are all sung by female Norwegians. “The Day You Went Away” is a melodic, mid-tempo number wistfully delivered by the voices of Marit Larsen and Marion Raven, better known as M2M. I’ve seen a witty Facebook post stating that something happened on “September 22nd, Sunday, 25 after nine,” referencing the song’s remarkable line. 

A forgettable Gwyneth Paltrow-starrer actually gave us “Turn Back Time” vocally brought by Aqua’s Lene Nystrom whose impassioned delivery was a delightful departure from the group’s squeaky Europop dance numbers. She appeared in a Norwegian game show. 

Then there’s “Unforgivable Sinner,” the debut by girl with guitar Lene Marlin. In 1998, the song became the fastest selling-single in Norwegian music history.  

Grace, like most Filipinos, can decently sing. But she found her character more attuned to photography which led to “Half Circles” — a tight showcase of her work that significantly captures images unmistakably Filipino. She specializes in portraits, documentary, events, and corporate imaging – four areas in daring display via half-shown still shots. Scanning the exhibit’s QR (Quick Response) code allows visitors to see the whole picture. 

Grace Tagum Orbon — the name I was introduced to when we met during the scriptwriting sessions under Ricky Lee a score ago — met true love in one Norway-based European gentleman. Love led to her first-ever interactive, virtual photo exhibition. Some of her photographic prints are available for purchase on-site. 

“’Half Circles’ is about my journey, feelings, thoughts and loved ones na naiwan ko sa Pilipinas. Kaya natuwa ako nung may nagsabi sa akin na na-miss niya ang Pilipinas dahil sa mga photos ko,” she relayed. 

The concept reminds me of Yoko Ono’s “Half-A-Room” art exhibition of things cut in half. Grace’s life crossed over the next half upon moving to a new home.   

“Through this exhibit,” she elaborated, “I would like to reach out and collaborate with fellow artists and photographers by creating a common ground for organizing workshops in the field of arts and photography.”

Grace has been shooting freelance since 2012. She took hotos at the set of Heneral Luna,” portraits of the late Eddie Garcia, and even participated in a Banawe International Music competition as lenswoman-producer. She’s bound to take bigger shots in one of Europe’s finest places. 

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