Shortly after the fall of the Soviet empire, memorials to Marxist luminaries began to tumble as well. Across Romania, Georgia and even Russia, the papas of the Proletariat were smitten by angry ex-communists.
It’s a common reaction for people who are suddenly freed of homage to brutes with theories. The same fate befell images of Ceausescu and Saddam Hussein as well, when they had the chance.
The city of Odessa, Ukraine has made it official: the land will be “de-communized.” Soviet monuments will not be tolerated in public spaces either, especially if they were placed under duress (which they always are). Last month Lenin was set to be evicted from a factory yard there. He was shabby, weathered and only made of plaster, but at the last minute he was assigned a new identity.
Overnight a new Dark Overlord arose at the spot, Darth Vader. Local sculptor Alexander Milov transformed the shamed revolutionary via the magic of titanium. Artists there have been especially active in the Ukraine nationalism and democratic reform movements. Darth Vader must have secret appeal or meaning to Ukrainians, since 44 candidates by that name have registered as contenders for Odessa’s city council.
This is just a new twist on what has become a recreational activity for Ukrainians. Perennial thorns in the side of Marxist rulers, they suffered horribly under Stalin. The remodel is a small gesture; but it’s payback time for artists, especially in former Soviet satellites and surrounding areas.
Ukraine leads the way in gleeful demolitions of the militant Soviet monoliths. They’ve got a genius for it. Claiming to be the first to topple Lenin in 1990, they lead in scrapping Stalin as well. A website, “Raining Lenins,” follows this activity in the Ukraine. They believe that thousands of monuments to old killers were toppled there, while Wikipedia records at least 660.
Georgians share similar troubles and history with their northern neighbors. Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s former president, took on Stalin in the land of his birth. He ordered the removal of an imposing 20-foot bronze statue of the man who probably holds the record for mass murder. Saakashvili was thrilled to see him go, calling Stalin a “bloodthirsty hangman.”
But Western Prolecultists in our universities and media won’t let the old killers go. Almost as soon as one “Lenin” bites the dust, he is resurrected somewhere else. They are continuously exalted by forces in the left. Genocidal psychopaths never truly die, but just move West to bide their time like Napoleon in Elba. Leftists apparently never met a truly efficient mass murderer they didn’t like.
Thanks to the efforts of a former Seattle teacher and businessman with a soft spot for revolutionaries, a 16-foot Lenin fixes his steely gaze down Evanston Avenue in Seattle, Washington. Local teacher and businessman Lewis E. Carpenter found him headed for the scrap heap in former Czechoslovakia in 1993. He was a beastly version, emphasizing the “revolutionary” aspect of the tyrant, which Soviets had tried to dampen down in later decades. They only redeeming aspect was that the hollow monstrosity housed a homeless fellow there.
Carpenter rescued Vladimir and shipped him off to Seattle, where he is “temporarily” installed in the artsy Fremont area. Believe me, in this area you wouldn’t even notice.
Unfortunately Carpenter didn’t fare as well himself. He died in a car accident in 1994, leaving the statue in a long state of limbo. Many Seattle residents were/are vexed with Lenin loitering around their public square. Children of Soviet victims accused installers of honoring their family’s killer and they received at least a few deaths threats.
Unsurprisingly, Lenin is a focal point of protest and creative graffiti, just as his counterparts were in the former Soviet states. Decked out for Christmas since 2004, at times he sports a Star of David as well. Gay pride week always finds Lenin in drag, but he would have them tortured for it. Some mornings Seattleites swear his hands are dripping with “blood” (presumably red paint, not miraculous).
In his book “Weird Washington” by Al Eufrasio, this conversation appears about the incongruous monument:
People say, “Hey, you’re putting up a monument to totalitarianism” and then people go, “Nah, it’s not the point. The point is that art transcends politics.” You have this kind of unique sculpture that you’re not going to see anywhere else in the country.
But people do notice. Zygimantas Pavilionis, a Lithuania envoy to Washington, ranted about the “ugly monument to Lenin” and warned that Seattleites someday they may wake up and “see Russian license plates on military vehicles in their city.”
Some news outlets labeled almost the entirety of Ukraine “right wingers,” assuming only political eccentrics would not appreciate the sight of oppressive bloody tyrants looming stories over their heads every day. Yet in a Wikipedia entry on the Seattle Lenin, the author attributes protests over removing Marxist entities to “right-wingers” as well. Bloggers and columnists also claim mobs of “right-wingers” hated the memorials (more likely). Hilarious. It’s baffling and a course in propaganda by itself. Whatever it was, “right-wingers” did it.
Ukraine’s right and left, especially in the arts, are united in at least one thing: most hate the Marxist Soviet empire. Why Western academics and Progressives stubbornly cling to discredited Communism is a mystery. Thinking beings and almost all who lived it despise Marxist theory and the men who it rode it to power.
Try as they may, Western lovers of Lenin and all things genocidal are at odds with most Russian and ex-Soviet bloc artists. It hasn’t been long enough for even young persons to forget the hell they lived and friends they lost.
Azerbaijani artist Hüseyn Haqverdi is a case in point. At the Venice Biennale (April-November 2015), he refuses to dilute grief over years in Marxist slavery. His family suffered death and imprisonment at Stalin’s hands and it set back his career for years as well. Haqverdi’s sculptural installation of lost generations in “Beyond the Line” is eerie and has a somber tone. Pieces are narrow, roughly carved representations of humans looking distressed; a series of tomblike obelisks and cairns.
Meanwhile back in Seattle, Carpenter’s family is still seeking to sell Lenin. Currently the neighborhood Chamber of Commerce is supporting him. They feel it attracts business and makes a good photo backdrop, which would be galling to the revolutionary. Seattle Art Museum experts estimate it is worth about $240,000.
At eight tons of bronze, it may be worth more in a melted state. Recycling is a very big deal in the Northwest.
- TheArtNewspaper online
- The Moscow Times online
- Issaquah Press online