. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Statue Solutions




Turning a Lenin statue into a slot machine, chiseling Karl Marx down so that he's wearing soccer shorts and cleats, putting the head of a Lenin statue on the execution block on Red Square - these are just some of the ideas that Russian and American artists came up with when answering the Gelman Gallery's question "What should we do with monumental propaganda?"


The exhibit, which includes drawings, collages and computer-generated images, first ran in 1992 and is being shown again in connection with the State Duma's recent call to return the statue of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky to Lyubyanka.


"Then [in 1992] it was timely because the monuments were being taken down, and now it's timely because the era of restoring them has begun," gallery employee Tatyana Chistova said.


The exhibit is also displayed in a "virtual gallery" on the Gelman Gallery's web site at www.guelman.ru.


The gallery's owner, Marat Gelman, said at the real exhibit's opening this week that the Internet discussions on the web site have yielded many more interesting ideas on what to do with Russia's stone legacies.


"There are projects without any irony that could actually be fulfilled," Gelman said, describing one suggestion to bury Lenin under the mausoleum. That way, his body would remain on Red Square and be buried, thereby pleasing both sides in the debate.


The ideas depicted in the exhibit are not that realistic, but many are striking political commentaries. The bad boys of Russian art Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid suggested adding bronze figures to the statue of Dzerzhinsky in commemoration of the people who climbed on it during the events of August 1991 and put a noose around "Iron Felix's" neck.


Roberto Mitrotti, who drew the Marx statue on Teatralnaya Ploshchad remodeled as a soccer player, wrote this explanation: "This too solid Karl Marx, already chiseled down by history, could be further reduced into a more sporting figure. International soccer matches can be simultaneously broadcast on the monitors embedded in its base, becoming a real attraction for Muscovites on Sunday afternoons."


Unfortunately, the exhibit is having only a brief second run and it closes Saturday. It may, however, be available on the web site for longer.


- Sarah Karush


The Gelman Gallery is located at 7/7 Malaya Polyanka, 238-8492. Open noon to 6 p.m. Closed Sunday. Metro: Polyanka.