Photographs by Elin Høyland
When Norwegian photographer Elin Høyland heard about two reclusive, elderly brothers living together in rural Norway she knew she wanted to collaborate with them on a project about their lives. Harald, then 75, and Mathias Ramen, 80, had always shared a house on the small farm where they were born. Neither married. The brothers’ days on the farm provided a predictable and comforting routine. They cut, carried, and burned wood to heat their house. They fed wild birds in some 20 birdhouses. They listened to the radio and read the newspaper. Harald died from an asthma attack while shoveling snow in frigid temperatures. Mathias continued to live in the house until moving to a home for the elderly. Høyland then went back and photographed the empty house. Mathias died in 2007. “The brothers’ way of life has now almost entirely disappeared in modern Norway,” she says.