Moscow Museum of Modern Art
09.07 - 06.09.2015
Nevertheless, the symbolic role of any monument to Lenin on the territory of a union republic or a country of the socialist camp has always been to unify the presence of the empire in the political life of a subject of the USSR. To advocate the restoration of monuments, as Boudin does, means to exclude them from the production relations of the Stalinist state, far from the "special force" for suppressing the bourgeoisie, described by Lenin in "The State and Revolution". The monument on Shevchenko Boulevard is only a small part of a large historical project, only a fragment of a unified program of "national in form, socialist in content" design of Soviet cities. The monument to Lenin in Kharkov (1956), on the contrary, is a symptom of a "return to Leninist norms", partial de-Stalinization and democratization of the "thaw" era. Nevertheless, if, according to the theorist of realism Lukács, art is "the production of the total", then the monuments to Lenin are the reproduction of totalitarianism, since to him, like Mayakovsky, "the best monument would be socialism built in battles", and not bronze subordinate to centralized iconography or marble image.
This blindness in relation to the ideological and architectural ensembles in which sculpture is inscribed is characteristic not only of those who today are aggressively fighting for the establishment of nation-states, but also of the defenders of the leftist idea. Hidden behind static avatars, the informational architecture of social networks is just as rarely questioned by participants in "holy wars" (holy wars) for one reason or another. And the power of media in general, not just social media, is based on a universal presumption of intelligibility. It is assumed that the images we encounter carry a common, easily readable meaning. What is important is the speed of emotional reaction to a particular facial expression or a set of cultural codes. American art critic Ben Davis compared Instagram pictures to the iconography of classical European painting, coming to the predictable conclusion that users are assuming pictorial poses without even knowing that they are "talking in prose." This applies to all angular and regular-round image representation formats. And when an image becomes the subject of (bloody) conflict, as happened in the recent attack on the editors of Charlie Hebdo magazine, it falls into a cycle of continuous tautological interpretations. Interpretations make it possible to abstract from the social structures underlying the production of such images and not to question them. For the destroyers, the avatars of foreign politics are also devoid of context, and therefore often become sacred victims. These sacrifices reveal continuity in relation to the architectural and ideological program in which the destroyed monuments are inscribed. That is why, regardless of the aesthetic value of Palmyra (very high) and the monuments to Lenin (low), the destruction of monuments cannot be called a liberating act. But from the point of view of cultural heritage, the majestic ensembles of the past have a chance to be preserved even in the most hostile hands. Architecture, in turn, will leave traces of the societies for which it originated, and the hopes for the best that were born in it.
About all those who fall
Mr Rooney. Who is preaching tomorrow?
Mrs. Rooney. Hardy.
Mr. Rooney. Is the text announced?
Mrs. Rooney. "The Lord upholds all who fall and
raises up all the downtrodden."
Pause. Both laugh wildly.
(Samuel Beckett. About all those who fall)
The subjects of history in the two main hot spots of the planet are engaged in petricide - the destruction of monuments of ideologies alien to them. In May of this year, the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant reached the ruins of the Syrian Palmyra, an architectural monument of the "Hellenized East" and the most important trading city on the ancient Silk Road. The Western world shuddered, expecting the planned destruction of pagan, according to ISIS, antiquity, but the commanders of the new caliphate destroyed only the statues, leaving the architecture intact. In 2013 and 2014, Ukrainian nationalist party activists removed two Lenins from the plinth - an imposing, red marble one at the entrance to Taras Shevchenko Boulevard in Kiev, and an energetic one in the center of Kharkiv.
These acts of political aggression in relation to the monuments of the past caused a different reaction of society. ISIS is condemned everywhere except in the structures of the new state and islands of sympathizers around the world. Opinions are divided about the monuments to Lenin: in Russia, some see the dismantling as a long overdue need to get rid of the communist past, others emphasize the radicalism of the political views of those who were involved in the destruction of the monuments of the leader, and compare these views with ISIS. In addition, Lenin is more relevant than ever for the international political agenda that comprehends the economic crisis of recent years and seeks to denounce the postmodern state as a veil for the unrestrained and ethically relativistic marketing of global corporations. The revolutionary significance of Lenin for Europe is emphasized by the theorist Boris Buden in an article giving another argument to the defenders of monuments to the leader: if we recognize his legacy, and not be ashamed of him, then "[we] will see how the monuments to Lou Reed and Frank Zappa will stand not in place of Lenin, but next to him. We will see the deep historical connection between the October Revolution and the sexual revolution that happened in the 1960s, and the radical anti-militarism of both." A little earlier, Boudin compares Lenin with Harun al-Rashid and sees in the head of the Soviet state the spokesman for the historical superiority of the East over the West.
Between ISIS and the destroyers of Lenin, for all the dissimilarity of their position (attack and defense, respectively), there is a fundamental relationship. ISIS does not touch the colonnades of Palmyra, a Roman colony, Ukrainian activists leave the buildings of the post-war Khreshchatyk architect Vlasov alone. Both forces do not understand that they are destroying - and this is logical, because if they consisted of armchair scientists and realized their longing for a big romantic story about a nation and a single god, then destruction could have been avoided. The architecture of Palmyra, as an expression of Western expansionism, is much more aggressive towards Islamist values than the numerous statues, among which are many tombstones. Kiev Lenin is only the cornerstone of the solemn reconstruction of the city, wounded by bombardments. This is, in essence, a monument to the victory over fascism, erected in 1946, a year before the start of the restoration of Khreshchatyk.
"We were taught and are taught that the "red day of the calendar", February 23, is the date of the victory of the newborn Red Army over the Kaiser's troops near Pskov and Narva, and now the holiday "Defender of the Fatherland". What an absolute fiction invented by Stalin. Potapov is an artist, which is why he creates a gigantic (3.8 x 6 m) canvas "Victory near Pskov", a deliberate postmodern pastiche, a set of quotes from Russian and Soviet battle scenes. To emphasize the artificiality of the depicted, for the picture the author chooses a format that does not fit into the museum hall. Myth is always greater than reality! Fedor Romer, Novaya Gazeta, http://www.novayagazeta.ru/arts/69500.html
The Pskov media "bought" the pseudo-historical painting "Victory at Pskov on February 23, 1918", which allegedly lay in the vaults of the Pskov Museum for 40 years, and made patriotic publications. An example of the readiness of the media to fulfill a patriotic order.
"From memory" is a study of historical memory associated with the geopolitical events of recent years, which have led to the fact that memory has become the subject of ideological manipulation and outright falsification. The current government has privatized the ways of addressing and interpreting the past according to a new doctrine - an orientation towards traditionalism and new imperialism. That is why memory today appears as an organized and orderly oblivion. The media and cultural politics play the role of arteries to propagate new mythologies and reinforce new identities. Personal memory counteracts this. This conflict can be observed in public criticism of new history textbooks, historical films, government statements on historical events, and so on. This rift demonstrates an unwillingness to accept a new version of the shared story.