In 1959, the American “Corona” Satellite accidentally dropped its capsule of secret films in the Arctic, never to be retrieved. Nearly a decade later, Alistair MacLean published “Ice Station Zebra,” a Cold War thriller in which the Americans win the “race for the secret,” but in reality, either the Soviets got it… or it’s still out there.
Ice Station Zebra 2018 re-opens the case, following an imaginary Russian meteorologist-cum-spy “Gertruda” (Vlada Milovskaya) as she recounts her sad story to a hopeful brigade of Russian and Norwegian children—neighbors along Russia’s border with NATO. All the while a kid-filled American submarine is listening in from somewhere deep beneath the sea, possibly not far from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This interactive, educational, multinational artwork aims to examine the embers of Cold War tension, and to revive the kind of cross-border friendship initiatives that the Soviet Union and its counterparts once pursued. As it turns out, though, Ice Station Zebra 2018 has been walking a shifting line between spoof and 21st Century thriller—and between the old Cold War and a new one. At this writing, one of the project’s advisors and cameos is under arrest in Moscow, on charges of espionage. Frode Berg, a retired Norwegian border guard who spoke warmly of the helpful role children play in diplomacy, is locked up in a Federal Security Service prison, awaiting the resolution of his case.