(8.25 min. Jesper Nordahl 2001)
The Crazy Girls, Annija, Katrina and Agnese dance through neglected streets singing songs you'll be familiar with. Oblivious to their surroundings, they try to concentrate on the beat and tempo of the music as they dance towards the camera. But the Crazy Girls are not the latest girl band, but three ten year olds from Karosta, a port suburb of Liepaja, Latvia. The interview and film by Swedish artist Jesper Nordahl adds to their armoury of girl band accoutrements - they have the group, the music, the choreographer - the dream is once more reaffirmed. They are passing their time playing-out the same harmless dream that occupies many children their age, to be like the famous people most similar to them, in this case Britney Spears and A-teens, a Swedish Abba cover band.
The competition between the trio is good-natured and charming to watch; Agnese is the leader, most opinionated and setting the pace of the dancing and talk, Annija and Katrina are twins, Annija being the least confident or interested, having her dancing impeded by the ghetto-blaster she has to carry as they dance through the streets.
One can surmise something of their lives from what surrounds them, a mixture of broken Russia and broken USSR, the modern and the orthodox equally neglected within a damaged Latvia. Between 1890 and 1994 Karosta fell under the rule of Russia, the Soviet Union, Germany and Latvia; each leaving their mark on the architecture and people. In the film the girls dance past 1980s housing, Stalinist era buildings and the Orthodox cathedral built by Tsar Nicolai II. When Latvia gained it's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and the Latvian nation was re-established, ninety percent of Karosta's population became aliens (non-citizen inhabitants) as they were considered, even if Latvian born, ethnic Russians.
The film is now three years old, and one wonders if the trio are still together. Now teenagers, Annija, Katrina and Agnese should be one of the first generations to experience the mixed blessings of Latvia being a full-member of the European Union, yet if they are aliens in their country of birth what will the future hold for them then?
(text: Lesley Young, 2004. Lesley Young is a writer and curator based in Malmö and Edinburgh.)
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