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Cathrine Persson

first performed on August 30, 2020
Bodø Kunstforening
performed once in 2020


Tromsø, Norway


In the north of Norway we say: “IN COD WE TRUST,” and we do mean it. This is an intimate meeting with our dearest friend, the codfish. It used to mean everything. Would it appear from the Arctic ocean again this winter? The people of the north were fishing peasants and “Fish and Potatoes” is our national song. To catch it is a blessing and to slaughter it a privilege.

I work the knife with care, just feeling the bone, not scratching it. I start from the tail, working my way gently down to its head, the belly is left untouched, this lets me dress the flesh as a vestment. The head loosens, gill arches appear, perfectly curved with filaments sparkling red, I tie them as a crown to my woman’s head with intestines under her chin. All the internals are sorted on plates, the liver is left to ferment. With a blow I split the brain, tiny gemstones appear, otoliths that tell the life story of the Skrei. Its age and journeys. Its food and environment. All are stored in annual rings of the stones. I grind them and sniff the white powder as snow. All is set for a feast.

We used to paint our houses with cod liver oil and made our bows with glue from the bones. It has been our largest export item for a thousand years. Today the Norwegian government just got sued in high court for opening half of the Arctic ocean to oil drilling, the ocean lost. Our cod is now taken by large trawlers and shipped to China because it is cheaper to slaughter it there.

I never buy fish, but I eat my dear friend three times a week.