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REVIEW, Peoples Kitchen Tromsø at   Lofoten International Arts Festival 2017, Kate Sutton

ArtReview International: 

`` The true social centerpieces of the opening weekend were the communal lunches, prepared by People’s Kitchen Henningsvær, an offshoot of the eponymous Tromsø initiative. The meals were prepared exclusively with surplus or expired foodstuffs from the grocery stores in neighboring Kabelvåg. I had first encountered dumpster-diving a decade ago while studying in the Bay Area, and, I admit, the concept still left me queasy. At the time, the practice was something of a shibboleth for a certain set of co-op kids, mostly East Coast scions for whom the reclaimed cheese plate offered entre to a world of communal showers, conspicuously dirty sweaters, and polyamorousentanglements with lavender-dreaded white girls.

The People’s Kitchen Tromsø founder, Liv Bangsund, quickly dispensed with this stereotype. Warm and slightly maternal, she has a way of speaking that makes you feel like she’s about to give you a cookie. The idea had originally rooted as part of her MA in art and sustainability, but Bangsund wanted to push it further, outside the art world and into partnerships with local environmentalists. For People’s Kitchen Henningsvær, this meant reaching out to groups such as the Lofoten wing of Framtiden i våre hender (The Future in Our Hands), an Oslo-based environmental advocacy group. “Lofoten is full of people who come to surf, to climb, to be with nature,” Bangsund told me. “These are people who tend to be interested in climate change, who reject capitalism and collect surplus food.” She paused, then added: “But really I got the idea from South Hackney.”

The People’s Kitchen Henningsvær set up shop in the town’s Festiviteten, inviting all who were interested to pitch in with cooking and cleaning. The extravagant Saturday lunch was met in kind by a swell of underfed art students and curious onlookers. By the time Warsza, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, and I had made it through the line, little was left but cauliflower soup and potato chips. Across the table, Van Dingenen caught my eye: “We should have brought some seaweed.”

Sunday afternoon, I tried my luck once more at the communal table, comforted with the breakfast-buffet nectarine tucked into my tote bag. The art students had all left that morning, filing out of town in a backpacked progression along the main road. (“It’s like watching the last day of Glastonbury,” writer Harry Thorne remarked.) An eye-popping spread greeted me at Festiviteten, with full platters of colorful salads, meatballs, fried fishcakes, apple crumble, and crepes, with two kinds of sauces: chocolate and “other.” It was an embarrassment of riches. Debating the ethics of going back for seconds, I recalled a line from Linder’s libretto: “And you ask why the future cannot be tasted? Cause to blink in the present has left more wasted.”

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