Катюша (Katyusha)

“Катюша (Katyusha)” is a three channel video piece based on material collected at Pyramida, a mining community established by the Soviet Union in the Svalbard territory in the high Arctic. At its peak Pyramida was home to more than 1000 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.

  • Stephen Hilyard
  • Stephen Hilyard
  • Maggie Kane, Nolen Meland
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    experimental, historical, multi-channel, soviet-union, russia, arctic, ghost-town, love-story
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 40 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    98,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Svalbard and Jan Mayen, United States
  • Shooting Format:
    4k digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Wisconsin Triennial
    United States
    September 23, 2016
    World Premiere
Director Biography - Stephen Hilyard

Stephen Hilyard is an artist. His work has been exhibited internationally, including galleries in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis, London, Berlin, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai, Sao Paulo, Riga, Perth and Sydney. Hilyard’s practice has been supported by grants and fellowships from The Huntington Library, The Harpo Foundation, The American Scandinavian Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Wisconsin Arts Board and the Minnesota State Arts Board.

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