Soviet Barbara

Soviet Barbara
The story of Ragnar Kjartansson in Moscow

In December 2021, Icelandic art star Ragnar Kjartansson opens a Russian oligarch´s museum by re-staging the American soap Santa Barbara live. Witness the jaw-dropping avant-garde critique of the Post-Soviet empire play out on the eve of Putin´s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

In December 2021, shortly before the Russian invasion in Ukraine, icelandic visual artist Ragnar Kjartansson opened a monumental exhibition at a new arts center called GES-2 in the heart of Moscow. In a former plant the used to power the Kremlin, now owned and renovated for one of Russia´s richest men, Ragnar´s main attraction was an unprecedented living sculpture called Santa Barbara.

In the nave of the huge building, a group of 70 people performed and produced one episode per day of the American soap opera Santa Barbara- in Russian of course.
There were intended to be a hundred episodes in total, but on the day of the invasion of Ukraine, the exhibition was abruptly stopped by Ragnar and his collaborators.
The arrival and popularity of Santa Barbara into Russian life after the fall of the Soviet Union can be seen as a metaphor for hopes of cultural openness between East and West following the end of the Cold War. Through the soap opera, Russians at the time envisioned a new and brighter future for themselves.

Credit list:
Directed by 
Gaukur Úlfarsson

Director of of photography
Hákon Sverrisson

Executive Producers
Gaukur Úlfarsson
Guðrún Olsen
Guðni Tómasson

Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir
Sigurður Kristinn Ómarsson

Hákon Sverrisson
Magnús Ingvar Bjarnason

Other Camera
Björn Ófeigsson
Róbert Magnússon
Pecherskiy Maksim Artemovich

Gaukur Úlfarsson
Guðrún Olsen
Guðni Tómasson
Freyr Árnason
Kristín Ólafsdóttir

Project management 
Guðrún Olsen

Gaukur Úlfarsson
Guðni Tómasson

Kári Steinarsson

Sound Processing
Kári Jóhannsson

Color Correction
Björn Ófeigsson

Logo & Graphics
Guðrún Olsen

Original score
David Berndsen

Variety reviews:

Hotdocs Festival 2023

Nordic Panorama 2023
Best Nordic Documentary
Soviet Barbara 

Soviet Barbara, the Story of Ragnar Kjartansson in Moscow + Q & A
Sunday, September 24th, 15.30.
Cinema Panora, Salon 3