Zagreb Milkmaids on Your Right Hand Side, 2002/2003

Still: Courtesy the artist

Single-channel video installation, color, sound
20 min 34 sec

One inevitable side effect of the process of globalization and standardization in Europe seems to be the assimilation and disappearance of certain local characteristics and cultural particularities. In Zagreb Milkmaids on your Right Hand Side the artist Kristina Leko investigates the disappearance of the Zagreb milkmaids and their traditional trade. The work is one component of Leko's ongoing project "Cheese and Cream", initiated by the artist as an initiative for the protection of Zagreb's milkmaids and in the following two years realized in cooperation with [BLOK] (registered association) and the curator Vesna Vukovic. The multi-layered collaborative project included interventions in public space, research, an archive and a website, an exhibition, panel discussions, and a media campaign, allowing the artist to act as facilitator in the self-organization of the milkmaids and the drafting of the Milkmaid's Declaration.

In 2003 more than 500 milkmaids regularly came to Zagreb, usually once or twice a week, to sell their milk products at several open markets. Due to agricultural restructuring, privatization of the milk industry, and the increasing dominance of supermarkets, the number of milkmaids is continuously in decline since the beginning of the 1990s. As a result of Croatia's adherence to the rules and regulations of the European Union, their numbers have decreased even more in the last ten years, resulting in only approximately 350 milkmaids coming to Zagreb in 2008. However, today the number of milkmaids in Zagreb is rather stable, not least due to "Cheese and Cream", which sensitized the local public and city council for the problems of the milkmaids. Since 2007 Kristina Leko is working on a documentary film, which traces the history of the Milkmaids to the present day.

*1966 in Zagreb, Croatia | Living and working in Berlin, Germany