Eva Bakkeslett

Rømmekolle Revival – Cultural emigration and bacterial fermentation

Inspired by bacterial cultures and the process of fermentation, artist Eva Bakkeslett has been researching and reviving the traditional, but rapidly vanishing, fermented milk culture rømmekolle that is deeply rooted in Scandinavian culture. Rømmekolle is milk fermented with a bacterial culture that originates from the plant Butterworth. This culture has been passed down through generations and generously shared amongst people till the 60-ies, but has now disappeared as a folk culture.

Rømmekolle Revival is the untold story of a bacterial culture that was so common and important in Scandinavia that people claim they would not have survived without it. It is the story of a loving and mutually beneficial relationship between bacteria and humans, of peoples connections to the land, of sharing cultures with neighbours and the local community and of the caring for and nurturing the family cow that gave precious milk needed to cultivate the culture.

It is also the story of a culture that almost got lost in modern times through modern living and commercial streamlined production, just like we are rapidly replacing diversity, languages and experiential knowledge for homogenous consumer cultures. It is the tale of a resilient culture that survived because it emigrated with dedicated cultivators on a handkerchief to the promised land of America, where it lived and thrived in exile for over a century till it eventually found its way back to Scandinavia.

Hear the story, taste the culture and help to spread the precious Rømmekolle by learning how to become a cultural activist with artist and gentle activist Eva Bakkeslett.

Rømmekolle Revival was first shown during the cultural festival Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes 2015. The project was originally financed and co-produced by Pikene på Broen.


Program of events:

Exhibition at Sølvberget Galleri, 11 August till 2 October

16-18 September: The artist will be available in the gallery for questions, stories and cultural sharing.

16 September 6PM-8PM:
Rømmekolle revival – a cultural revelation.
Performative talk 
In this performative talk the artist Eva Bakkeslett gives a poetic, informative and entertaining insight into her research about Rømmekolle culture including tales of crying cows and wondrous bacterial collaborations.

17. September 2-5PM
Gut Feeling – Fermenting collaborative cultures:
How can we re-imagine human cultures inspired by microorganisms?
In this workshop you will gain insight into how fermentation can be a method for re-imagining sustainable human cultures in theory and practice and help redefine our role as humans to deal with the many challenges we are now facing in the world.
We will explore the creative capacity and aesthetic beauty of bacteria, and become cultural activists by learning how to care for and share bacterial cultures. Collectively we will map our social fermentation process to make some guidelines for future navigation.

An esthetic, philosophical and practical experience!

18 September 11AM and 1PM
How you can become a cultural activist!
30 min. crash course in reviving and caring for bacterial cultures. An informal and practical introduction to intercultural practices. You will receive your very own Rømmekolle culture.

Eva Bakkeslett is an artist, filmmaker and gentle activist, exploring the potential for social change through gentle actions and subtle mind-shifts. Her socially engaged practice often combines film, participatory events and workshops; She frequently collaborates with other artist, activists, scientist and engaged people in her work. Eva creates spaces and experiences that challenge our thinking and unravel new narratives that inspire and engage us to make sense of and embody sustainable and thriving ways. By revealing and reclaiming forgotten or rejected practices, concepts and cultures her work directs our attention to the patterns that connect us to the earth as a living organism. Eva lives in North Norway and shows, lectures and performs her work worldwide. She has an MA in Art & Ecology from Dartington College of Art in England.