LENINCRASH AS UKRAINIAN ARTFORM

Euromaidan Press on March 14, 2016 reported on the toppling of Lenin statues in Ukraine as an artform. Excerpts below:

In Ukraine, toppling Lenin statues fulfills a number of objectives: it’s a popular spectacle, desacrilization of old myths, destructurization of historical figures, letting off steam and overt intimidation of ideological opponents

It definitely should not be viewed in a one-dimensional manner, but rather examined closely from several aspects as it contains codes that help us understand other areas of Ukrainian society.

Recently, Dnipropetrovsk got rid of its monument to Soviet revolutionary Hryhoriy Petrovsky; now residents and the city council are talking about renaming the city. Two years have passed since the Lenincrash phenomenon started in Ukraine. So, it would be a sin not to examine this particular element of decommunization. Lenincrash is worth looking at from a different perspective, as a popular manifestation. Perhaps we should also consider it an artistic performance…

The Maidan, like any major uprising, generated a flurry of folk art. Besides poetry, songs, kolomyyky, cartoons, caricatures, paintings and interesting political slogans, protesters created different and colourful means of artistic expression, such as performances, flash mobs, happenings and action events. Lenincrash fits perfectly into this context. In fact, it’s all of the fore-mentioned tied into one! And, it responds perfectly and eclectically to the desires of the Ukrainian people.

Lenincrash resembles a popular carnival… a theatrical performance with assigned roles and actions that are allowed before Christian Lent. It’s a carnival where masks are replaced by balaklavas, both of which are used for the same purpose. Don’t even try to pretend that no one will recognize you!

Like other complex popular phenomena, toppling Lenin statues fulfills a number of objectives: it’s a popular spectacle, desacrilization of old myths, destructurization of historical figures, letting off steam and overt intimidation of ideological opponents.

In addition, Lenincrash is a therapy to combat trauma caused not so much by the actual collapse of the Soviet Union, but by insufficient knowledge of traumatic experiences suffered by the Ukrainian population during this period. The symbolic act of destroying the “leader of the proletariat” and removing him from his pedestal should break all ties with the previous era, with the horrifying past, and help relieve post-traumatic syndromes. What was supposed to happen, but didn’t happen, in the eighties and nineties must be implemented now. There is great hope that such symbolic acts will make a difference.

When the Lenincrash phenomenon spread from Halychyna (western Ukraine) to all regions of the country, it demonstrated that the cult of the personality was finally debunked. Lenin is no more a sacred figure for the Ukrainian people.

Lenincrash is also a fight against the totalitarian regime that denied any other art but social realism, censored everything and left no room for creativity. Now, artists and critics, both leftists and libertarians, protect what was embodied in the era of censorship from actual “censorship”. There is no more instinct of self-preservation…

Finally, if we consider Lenincrash as a symbiosis of artistic techniques, we can assume that interpreting it as an act of barbarism is akin to censoring folk art. This is done by people who detest moral values and references to censorship.

No less paradoxical is the fact that many monuments to Lenin and other Soviet leaders do not have the slightest artistic value, but the people who organize such events and pull down old idols turn their action into real performance art.

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