Soviet Statue Climbers: Real Vs. Surreal

10.06.10 Marina Galperina

This week in This vs. ThatLeft: Anatoli Osmolovsky perching on the shoulder of Mayakowski statue in 1993 Moscow. Right: Liane Lang’s life-like dolls hanging off Lenin in modern day Budapest. They’re similar, but they’re not. But who’s legit?

Before Osmolovsky started making ironically luxurious shiny blobs in 2000’s, he was a full-on anarchist interventionist. In Soviet 1991, spelling out “COCK” with his buddies’ bodies in the Red Square almost got him sent to a gulag for hooliganism and obscenity. In post-Soviet 1993, the “politics of nothingness” artist scaled a gigantic statue of the Russian poet Mayakowski (hence, Osmolovsky-Mayakowski). See, the poet was once a hero of the 1920’s avant-garde, but later endorsed the  Soviet regime and got posthumously canonized by Stalin. Fuck that! Osmolovsky got Dada on him and sat on his shoulder, reclaiming Mayakowski for the rebels.

Liane Lang is less heavy stuff. She recently exhibited photos of climbers of Budapest’s formerly towering Lenins that got toppled along with the Soviet power. Lang saw these scattered, abandoned and cracked mementos and updated them with a light LULz of sort: dolls and legs. Unlike her stunning updated classical sculpture, the extra-limbed Soviets are just funny.

So, wherever there’s a statue, there’s plenty opportunity for derivative political intervention and quirky artistic amusement. So, how can you be legit? Build your own monuments! Giant Galactic Space Dick anyone?

Osmolovsky info via Art Chronika, Spring-Summer 2008 Issue.