The story of two people who set off into the Russian winter, a Nigerian and a Russian whose identities remain unrevealed, frame the narrative of the video ZIMA (Winter) by the Italian artist Christina Picchi. Touching pictures of a snow-covered village church and of cows grazing in the snow are a contrast to pictures of ships stranded on the ice, and the ice desert around Lake Baikal. The tempo of the narration varies from the documentation of a lively village community who, to celebrate Epiphany on January 6, once again undergo a baptism in hot water, the daily measurement readings at a weather station, or the operations of a military harbour and the apparently everlasting, lifeless expanse of the icy Russian landscape, where the unchanging darkness of the polar night is broken only by the headlights of an occasional motor car. This portrait of a season, the Russian winter, presents the viewer with life in one of the harshest climates on earth, in remote locations in northern Russia and Siberia, where even machines give up.
The video may make use of standard documentarisms of film and television, such as poignant landscape views, but, with the intentionally vague location of the scenes and the changes in the pace of narration, does not fulfil their promise. Its emphasis is on survival in the inhospitable Russian winter landscape, which forces its inhabitants to set other priorities. (Pia Bornus)