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.
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.
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.
I have to admit that he loses a bit in cleverness when he is literally covered with snow.
Being a semi-God, he is often displayed on a sober pedestal. He rarely may be supported by Soviet citizens comrades.
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.
If nothing is available for him to play with, the classy solution is to have him grab his jacket, to avoid too static poses.
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.
For a particularly strong dynamic touch, do not hesitate to combine codes (jacket grabbed + arm raised).
He occasionally shows the thumbs-up, but this is a risky move, as political reversals may result in a casual amputation.
Code 3: Lenin must come across as determined.
His facial expressions may vary from peaceful serenity to ruthless severity.
He is often looking far into the prosperous future.
Distress to the one he will harangue with his cap…
…and woe to the one he points the finger at!
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…