A few tips to successfully create your own Lenin statue – and avoid the gulag.

Each town used to have its own Lenin statue in the USSR. Depending on how long the umbilical cord with Moscow was, the newly independent formerly Sovietic Republics were more or less speedy in dismantling their Lenins. The Baltic and Transcaucasus countries did it immediately after the collapse, while Central Asia waited for years – a Lenin statue is said to have been stolen in 1997 in Kazakhstan. It took a whole identity crisis to Ukraine to get there, with the monument being dismantled during last year’s Euromaidan protests, whilst Lenin is still definitely up in the majority of Russia’s and Belarus’ towns.

ukraina 018 - kiev - lenin
Statue in Kiev, photo taken in August 2008.
kiev gone
Kiev in November 2014. The plinth is still there, but Lenin is gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Lenin statues are listed in a Wikipedia article. As for me, my purpose is more to draw up a sort of amused typology of them. During my travels in the former Soviet Union, I have had the opportunity to admire a decent collection of Lenin statues, and I do not remember having seen the exact same twice – but there are some common patterns that are truly delightful to observe.

So here are some tips about how to create your very own Lenin statue in a way that meets the requirements of the Marxist-Leninist theory. The pattern is as follows: Lenin must come across as respectable, dynamic, and determined.

Code 1: Lenin must come across as respectable.

Lenin is always dressed up, usually in a 3-piece suit with tie, with or without a coat. He stands straight, with a majestic bearing.

321 - komsomolsk
Lenin statue in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, in the Russian Far-East (photo February 2013)

Lenin in his native town Ulyanovsk (photo May 2012).

In order to protect him from the cold winter, an option is to have him wear a cap. A sartorial and meteorological alternative is to let his coat casually hang off his shoulder.

2012 05 Volga - 096 - Astrakhan
In Astrakhan by the Caspian Sea, Lenin has removed both coat and hat (photo May 2012).

I have to admit that he loses a bit in cleverness when he is literally covered with snow.

Brest
Snow-covered Lenin in Brest, in Belarus (photo November 2014).

Being a semi-God, he is often displayed on a sober pedestal. He rarely may be supported by Soviet citizens comrades.

51 - moscow - asome lenin or so
Statue on October Square in Moscow (photo February 2010).

Code 2: Lenin must come across as dynamic.

To give him a dynamic look, it is common to show him with something in his hand, like a newspaper or his cap.

291 - komsomolsk
Zoom on the Komsomolsk-na-Amure statue.

If nothing is available for him to play with, the classy solution is to have him grab his jacket, to avoid too static poses.

133 - vologda
Bare head, jacket grabbing, in Vologda, North of Moscow (photo January 2013).
Krasnoiarsk casquette et tient sa veste
Hat wearing, jacket grabbing, in Siberia in Krasnoyarsk (photo October 2010).

Lenin is a natural born leader, he likes to show the direction to take. This is why he is often seen with an arm forward, with open hand or finger pointing.

2012 05 Volga - 134 - Volgograd
Statue of Volgograd (ex-Stalingrad), with open hand (photo May 2012).
203 - vladivostok
Statue of Vladivostok, finger pointing (photo February 2013).

For a particularly strong dynamic touch, do not hesitate to combine codes (jacket grabbed + arm raised).

Irkutsk main en l'air et pan de veste
Irkutsk in Siberia (photo October 2010).

He occasionally shows the thumbs-up, but this is a risky move, as political reversals may result in a casual amputation.

St Petersburg 029
Lenin with thumbs up in Saint-Petersburg’s Finland Station, where he made his return for the Revolution in April 1917 (photo December 2010).
Grutos lenin sans pouce
Vilnius’ Lenin lost his thumb during the dismantling process. It is now on display in Grutos Park, a retirement forest for fallen political heroes in Lithuania. (photo November 2014).

Code 3: Lenin must come across as determined.

His facial expressions may vary from peaceful serenity to ruthless severity.

244 - khabarovsk
Khabarovsk’s Lenin, in the Far-East, is rather cool. (photo February 2013).

He is often looking far into the prosperous future.

091 - arkhangelsk
Statue of Arkhangelsk, by the White Sea (photo January 2013).

Distress to the one he will harangue with his cap…

374 - Bikhorevka
A quite moody Lenin in Vikhorevka, in Siberia (photo February 2013).

…and woe to the one he points the finger at!

2012 05 Volga - 046 - Saratov
A rather creepy Lenin in Saratov (photo May 2012).

In short, it is frankly not so difficult to successfully create a Lenin statue while passing the test of the good Soviet citizen: elegant clothes, the left hand on the jacket’s edge, the right hand showing the path, and you’re all set!

Obviously, although this pattern corresponds to the majority of statues, there are also a number of exceptions. But that is something I will talk about on another occasion…

grutos assis
A big half Lenin and me! (Parc Grutos, November 2014).
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