Hero City

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Hero City
HD Video, 13’ 55” (2016)
Language: English

What does it mean to be a witness to one’s time?

Set in an unnamed city above the Arctic circle, in the far north of Russia, a film-maker-narrator retraces her journey there. She tells of her encounters and recollections of what happened between the time of filming and the time of her telling. She is aware that the images, like her memories of wandering the city cannot be trusted to provide any certainty about what was happening or what it meant. Images and sounds of a place conjure memories and associations, or usurp memory altogether.

A polar museum, occupying a neo-classical church, founded in 1937 at the height of Stalin’s Terror, holds the visitor and the viewer captive in all its histories. Objects, artefacts and spaces become talismans to be deciphered, or sites for imagining alternatives. The soundtrack brings its own associations to Hero City, from fragments of a pop song by a local choir, to a post-punk band at an Arctic music festival to fragments of the soundtrack from Alexander Dovzhenko’s film Aerograd, of the same vintage as the museum and the hero city in its glory days.

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