Pikene på Broen (Girls on the Bridge) is the name of a famous painting by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. But it is also the name of a cultural collective operating across the Norwegian- Russian frontier on the Barents Sea coast. Run by six women, three Russian and three Norwegian, Pikene på Broen has for some years been creatively highlighting the benefits of cooperation across Europe’s most northerly land border. Norway’s common border with Russia is a shade less than two hundred kilometres long, and has just one official crossing point at Boris Gleb.
For many Norwegians, their country’s far north (and in particular the frontier region with Russia) is another world. It is a 2500 km drive from Oslo to Kirkenes. So no surprise that folk in Oslo judge Kirkenes to be on the Norwegian periphery. Pikene på Broen turn that idea on its head and recast Kirkenes as being in the very centre of things.