“Катюша (Katyusha)” is a three channel video piece based on material collected at Pyramida, a show-case community established by the Soviet Union in the Svalbard territory in the high Arctic. At its peak Pyramida was home to more than 1000 coal miners and their families. It was evacuated in two days in 1998 leaving a ghost town. "Катюша (Katyusha)" presents three fictional characters who personify different aspects of Pyramida. The Guide takes the form of a gray sea bird, the Northern Fulmar. As the piece progresses we discover clues to the identity of two Lovers, a ballet dancer and a basketball player. The elaborately painted floor of the basketball court in Pyramida is a central motif, as is the abandoned ballet studio in the northern most corner of the town – once the most northerly ballet studio on earth. Time becomes unreliable as the viewer jumps back and forth uncontrollably between two time periods. In the 1980s the lovers meet as adolescent young pioneers in the idyllic summer forests of the Ukraine. After the evacuation a mysterious love token is left behind on the tundra amongst the empty shells of Pyramida. The third unspoken time period is only hinted at – always skipped over, never shown – the time that the lovers spent living happily in a town built of dreams at the end of the world. The lonely voice of a Soviet “numbers station” recites the names of the missing.

Learn more here: stephenhilyard.com/katyusha.htm

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