Birth of a Nation (video)


video, 12 min, 2010


The video "Birth of a Nation" portrays a unique military academy in Mosow, where girls age 11-17 learn how to become the ideal Russian patriot and the ideal Russian woman. Here girls learn how to cook, march, sing and shoot. How to use make up and prepare for military action. Through six separate images  the various ‘characters’ from which this ideal woman made up, are decomposed.

The school is part of Vladimir Putin’s patriottic education, where young girls are indoctrinated and transformed into propagandatools. The film holds up a mirror to contemporary Russia, in which the army offers a sense of connection with the myth of Russia's a heroic past.

In the video nobody is interviewed, but by placing six different images on the screen at the same time, the footage reveals various aspects of their personalities while simultaneously posing the question of how all those aspects can be seen independently of one another.

While they sing the praises of the great Russian nation, we cannot help but notice the contrast between military indoctrination and youthful innocence. Does patriotism require them to renounce any form of independent thought and action? Do these girls really know what they are being used for, and is that even possible at their age?

This film was kindly supported by the Mondriaan Foundation and the Dutch Filmfund

Watch 3 min clip of 10 min video here

Part of the film is mute (without sound)

Director                 Daya Cahen

Editor                     Daya Cahen

Camera                  Daya Cahen

Sound                     Daya Cahen

Fixer Russia          Maria Morina

Soundmix              Ferry de Pater

Installation views

Flatland Gallery, Utrecht. Curated by Femke Lutgerink and Claudia Kussel

Kunstmuseum Bonn, DE. Curated by Georg Elben

Photo Bonn by Piotr Muschalik