Pikene på Broen, in cooperation with the Finnmark International Literature Festival, presented a Transborder Café exploring the delicate and sometimes unspoken cultural differences that exist across the Russian-Norwegian border.  The panellists for the discussion were Russian artists Olga Tsaplya and Dmitry Vilensky from the collective Chto Delat along with Norwegian author Morten Strøksnes. The discussion was led by Norwegian journalist Ida Karine Gullvik.

The evening started with a screening of Chto Delat’s acclaimed film ‘Border Musical’ which offered a reference point for the discussion that followed.  Set in our border-town Kirkenes, the film follows the story of Tanja from Nikel who moves to Kirkenes with her son to start a new life in Norway, starting her journey exclaiming “to Norway where everyone is happy” and soon learning how to “join the family of immaculate citizens”.

Ola from Finnmark meets Tanja from Kola. They fall in love, Tanja abandons her past and moves with her son to her new husband. Through joys and challenges of their mixed marriage we get a glimpse into today’s Russia-Norwegian borderland across cultural and social norms and values. How our behaviour and worldview are influenced by culturally laden relations between individual, family and society? To what degree we are responsible for our actions and to what degree we leave it to the state? Who defines areas of responsibility? The Norwegian state and Ola’s best friend help the couple to build up a family based on the sound Norwegian values.

The evening was concluded with a concert by the band Gromyka from Petrozavodsk who borrow their name from a long incumbent Soviet foreign minister. With Astrakhan hats, sharply pressed suit jackets, xylophone, heavy guitar riffs and quirky sounds from a vintage stylophone, the band performed songs about “Pushkin, Shishkin, Myshkin” and “The Man to My Boss” – producing danceable absurdity along the way.

See the full film, listen to the discussion and see Gromyka performing Пушкин (Pushkin) below.

Special thanks to our cooperating partner the Finnmark International Literature Festival.