The Russians are Coming

2010, single channel video, dimensions variable

The Russians are Coming is a video created using appropriated clips from the 1966 American comedy film, The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming. The movie tells the Cold War story of the comedic chaos which ensues when a Soviet submarine accidentally runs aground near a small New England island town.

Midway through the film the postmistress and the gossipy telephone switchboard operator of the town team up to alert everyone that the town has been “invaded” by the Russians. They craft a handmade sign with the word “Alert” painted on it and drive through the town together on a motorcycle with a sidecar in a desperate attempt to warn the other citizens of the impending doom.

Always interested in how methods of communication and their content is transformed, I have taken every sequence from the film that includes the Alert sign and visually eliminated all the details except for the fluttering sign. By isolating and decontextualizing the sign, it is beautifully apparent how universal such sensationalism is in any culture or media. Removed from its paranoid era, the message transcends generations and is at once ageless for any controversy, large or small.