Go and See: Birth of a Nation by Daya Cahen at FOTODOK
Fascinated by mass psychology and indoctrination, Dutch artist Daya Cahen visits Cadet School Number 9, a unique military academy in Moscow, where girls aged 11-17 learn how to become the ideal Russian patriot and the ideal Russian woman. The project “Birth of a Nation” consists of a photographic series (2012) and a short film (10 min., 2010).
In the photographic series, girls in military uniforms, wearing large white flowers in their hair, are photographed from behind. They become an army of girls, which, on the one hand, shows the uniformity of the collective and at the same time emphasizes the power of the individual.
In the short film Daya Cahen investigates the creation of the ideal Russian patriot and the ideal Russian woman. She does not interview anyone, but places as many as six different images on the screen at the same time. We see girls doing their hair, cooking, ironing, marching and learning to use weapons. The footage reveals various aspects of their personalities. While they sing the praises of the great Russian nation, we cannot help but notice the contrast between military indoctrination and youthful innocence.