Thursday, 9 October 2014

Lenin and Christ.

Two art works involving Lenin depicted in the guise of Christ or walking with Christ. The first is Vagrich Bakhchanyan's Crucifixion which was viewable through a peephole. Bakhchanya was born in Kharkov but of Armenian origin. He was also famous for having designed Lolita book covers with images of Lenin and Stalin.

Vagrich Bakhchanyan's Crucifixion from the 1980s

Alexander Kosolapov's Hero, Leader, God seems to suggest Lenin and Christ as (same sex?) parents of Mickey Mouse. He is well-known for linking consumer culture images with both Lenin and Christ which caused apoplexy in some religious leaders. A caviar Virgin Mary was removed from one exhibition whereas another Coca-Cola poster with a face of Christ and the slogan Coca-Cola: This is My Blood was vandalised during an exhibition at the Sakharov Centre in Moscow in 2003. The curators and gallery directors were persecuted rather than the vandals themselves.

Alexander Kosopalov's Hero, Leader, God from 2007.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Lenin Busts: "Don't traffic in Lenin"

Post-WW2 bust of Lenin covered in tradirtional Czech patterns
Taken from Nina Tumarkin: Lenin Lives!: the Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia.

In the beginning, immediately upon Lenin's death, no agency supervised or controlled the overall production of artistic renditions of Lenin. Produced in a hurry and often by men and women of little talent, they were often of very poor quality. It was not long before the Funeral Commission took notice of the problem. Ten days after Lenin's funeral, Leonid Krasin complained bitterly about the busts of Lenin that were popping up everywhere. Not a single one bore a satisfactory resemblance to the leader. On the contrary, they looked "simply repulsive". Some of these, Krasin continued angrily, should be destroyed on account of their "disgraceful, I should say even sacrilegious " lack of resemblance to Lenin. Even worse, he said in an article on monuments to Lenin, were busts that bore a partial resemblance to Lenin:

When the sculptor has managed to catch some single feature that reminds you of Vladimir Ilich, but in the rest of the portrayal there is nothing that looks like him, the result can be vulgar and shocking beyond description; instead of the exquisite incomparable head of Vladimir Ilich that has the most interesting structure since that of Socrates, before us is the head of some rickets-ridden shopkeeper or provincial lawyer.

"One is seized with fear" exclaimed Krasin at the thought that "hundreds of thousands of such busts" might appear throughout the country, and that "millions of people might forever imagine the features of Vladimir Ilich wearing the grimaces of these monstrosities". 

Krasin insisted that the realization of this nightmare be prevented by government decree. His suggestion was speedily adopted. On April 24, 11924, the Central Executive Committee passed a decree prohibiting the reproduction, sale and public exhibition of portrayals of Lenin in all media (except photographs)... without the express permission of any one of a number of specifically named subcommittees of the Immortalization Commission... It ended with the warning that it was a criminal action to disobey the decree.

In Moscow the actual judging was done by the Immortalization Commission's executive committee or troika, which was also in charge of the construction of the mausoleum and sarcophagus for Lenin's body and the preservation of the body. Authorized portraits, posters and busts of Lenin were put up for sale and advertised... But if many individuals and institutions responded to the sale of Leniniana by buying it, there were some who deplored the practice. Its most strident and vocal critic was the renowned poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.

The author of a number of poems on Lenin, Mayakovsky was in the process of composing his most famous contribution to the cult of Lenin, the epic poem "Vladimir Ilich Lenin" when he came out with the plea "Don't traffic in Lenin!" ...

Mayakovsky objected not to the public celebration of Lenin, but to the cheap and vulgar form that celebration was taking. The cult of Lenin ... was sullying and destroying Lenin's immortal spirit. The editorial's first page provided a graphic illustration of the practice the poet found so distasteful, a reproduction of one of the many advertisements carried in the contemporary press:

                                                    OF V.I. LENIN 
                                PLASTER, TREATED COPPER, BRONZE
                                                  MARBLE, GRANITE
                                LIFE-SIZED AND DOUBLE LIFE-SIZED
                                 from the original approved for reproduction
                            and distribution by the Commission on the Immortalization
                                     OF THE MEMORY OF V.I.LENIN
                                             MADE BY THE SCULPTOR
                                             S.D. MERKULOV [MERKUROV]
                                      --------------- OFFERED BY  ------------------
                                             STATE PUBLISHING HOUSE
                                      for state institutions, party and professional
                                         *** organizations, coopertaives etc ***
                                            EVERY COPY IS AUTHORIZED.
                                       {Items may be] viewed and ordered
                                                   Moscow, Rozhdetvenka, 4
                                    An illustrated prospectus will be sent out for free
                                         on a first-come, first-served basis.
                                      REPRODUCTION AND COPYING WILL BE
                                       PROSECUTED ACCORDING TO THE LAW.

Mayakovsky then went into his dramatic content:

We are against this.
We agree with the railroad workers from the Kazan RR who asked an artist to decorate the Lenin hall in their club without busts and portraits of Lenin, saying : "we don't want icons."
We insist:-
Don't mechanically punch out Lenin.
Don't print his portraits on posters, on tablecloths, on plates, on mugs, on cigarette-cases.
Don't bronze Lenin.
Don't take from him his living acts and human aspect, which he was able to retain, while directing history.
Lenin is still our contemporary.
He is among the living.
We need him alive, and not dead.
Learn from Lenin, but don't canonize him.
Don't create a cult around a person, who during his whole life fought against every kind of cult.
Don't traffic in the articles of that cult.
Don't traffic in Lenin!

Mayakovsky was not alone in deploring the gross impropriety of much of the Leniniana that appeared just after Lenin's death. As early as February 1924 the newspaper Rabochaia Moskva published a letter from a reader who complained that a Ukrainian cigarette factory was putting Lenin's portrait on cigarette packets. The unfortunate result, he said, was that the empty boxes littering the streets were trod upon by the pedestrians who were unwittingly stepping on Lenin's face. the authorities moved to prevent such abuses of Lenin's image. In May 1924 the Immortalization Commission published a resolution informing all enterprises that the printing and distribution of Lenin's portrait on cigarette boxes and wrappers, candy wrappers and candy, labels for products of any sort, and all jewelry was "categorically forbidden".

Lenin as a schoolboy.

The Yellow Pissing Lenin

Well this image of a pissing Lenin in Poland went the rounds some weeks ago. Lenin's comment on the Kharkov rabble?

Monday, 29 September 2014

Lenin and the grim reaper. (Kharkov imaginings)

Photo by Yuri Kosin.

Yesterday this photo seemed to be on all the Facebook pages of many Russian liberals delighted with the toppling of the Lenin statue in Kharkov. Who knows though what one may read into this photograph.

Is the 'grim reaper' not guarding Lenin? Or accompanying the granite Lenin to then continue on her work?  The 'corpse' of Lenin seems serene (almost sporting a smirk?) maybe in the knowledge that he's off to be sublated?

In this blurred photo below from Kharkov he seems about to lift off out into space in the manner of Ilya Kabakov's communal flat dweller:

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Living Lenin by Mikhail Romm

Mikhail Romm's 1969 27 minute film which uses found film footage of the living Lenin shot by such well-known cameramen as Levitsky, Tisse, Zheliyabuzhsky, Kozlovsky, Lemberg and Slavinsky.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

How Lenin sheltered Aleksander Wat from the NKVD.

Wat spent his first day in Alma-Ata wandering the streets, searching for a place to sleep. In the end he reached the delegation hotel where many people were spending the night in the lobby and there was no place left to sit. He noticed a statue of Lenin with his arm oustretched and curled up in a small hidden corner behind the revolutionary leader. At one point during the night Wat awoke; documents were being checked and as a former prisoner he had no right to be in the Kazakh capital. Wat remained unnoticed, however. Lenin had sheltered him.

(from Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation's Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968 by Marci Shore). 

Erbossyn Meldibekov's Mutating Lenins. (Lenin as Giacometti, Lenin as Patrice Lumumba etc)

The Kazakh artist Erbossyn Meldibekov on his Mutating Lenin's:
The mass-produced monumental bust is given a new interpretation in the Mutations (2008-11) series as four bronze figures of Lenin are contorted to replicate Giacometti, Patrice Lumumba and a great local hero with mongoloid features exemplifying a return to roots. In Meldibekov’s opinion: ‘in the conditions of post-Soviet nationalism, all our numerous new heroes are very monotonous: they are heroes of the past, invoked to confirm the historical credibility of our new governmental forms. But since nobody knows what these heroes looked like, there is a mushrooming of ethnic characteristics.’

Lenin as Giacometti

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The world's most inaccessible Lenin (Lenin in the Antarctic)

Probably the most inaccessible Lenin is at the appropriately named Southern Pole of Inaccessibility in the Antarctic. This is from the wikipedia account of the place with info on the Lenin statue there. 

The southern pole of inaccessibility is far more remote and difficult to reach than the geographic South Pole. On 14 December 1958, the 3rd Soviet Antarctic Expedition for International Geophysical Year research work, led by Yevgeny Tolstikov, established the temporary Pole of Inaccessibility Station (Polyus Nedostupnosti) at 82°06′S 54°58′E. A second Russian team returned there in 1967. Today, a building still remains at this location, marked by a bust of Vladimir Lenin that faces towards Moscow, and protected as a historical site. Inside the building, there is a golden visitors' book for those who make it to the site to sign.
On 4 December 2006, Team N2i, consisting of Henry Cookson, Rupert Longsdon, Rory Sweet and Paul Landry, embarked on an expedition to be the first to reach the historic pole of inaccessibility location without direct mechanical assistance, using a combination of traditional man hauling and kite skiing. The team reached the old abandoned station on 20 January 2007, rediscovering the forgotten statue of Lenin left there by the Soviets some 48 years previously. The explorers were picked up from the spot by a plane from Vostok base to Progress Base and taken back to Cape Town on the Akademik Fyodorov, a Russian polar research vessel. The team found that only the bust on top of the building remained visible; the rest was buried under the snow.

Losing the Head of Lenin.

It appears that Lenin's head has been lost in Berlin or at least that is what the German authorities want prospective art curators to believe according to a report last week in the British Guardian (and other sources). Here is most of the Guardian's report from August 21st:

More than two decades after it was torn down, Berlin authorities have admitted the giant monument may be lost in storage.
Curators of an exhibition about the German capital's monuments had proposed to including the Russian revolutionary's 1.7-metre (5.6ft) head in their show, scheduled for spring 2015. Between 1970 and 1991, the statue had stood on Lenin Square in Berlin's Friedrichshain district. After its removal, it was cut into 129 pieces and buried in a pit in Köpenick.
But last week the Berlin senate rejected the curators' proposal to excavate Lenin's head, arguing that they didn't know its precise location and would therefore have to dig up the entire pit, long overgrown with shrubs and trees: too costly an undertaking for the city's cash-strapped authorities.
Politicians and historians have criticised the decision. Members of the leftwing Die Linke went as far as suggesting that the mayor, Klaus Wowereit, was ideologically motivated: "They are even still scared of that stupid old head," the MP Wolfgang Brauer told the Taz newspaper.
A US film-maker has offered his services to help locate the misplaced head: in 1994, Rick Minnich had dug his way to it as part of his documentary The Book of Lenins. "Everything in Germany is documented," he told Berliner Zeitung, "so there are bound to be documents in this case too."
The exhibition curator, Andrea Theissen, also claims to be in possession of a map showing the head's precise location. "The Lenin statue is an important document to show how a united Germany has dealt with the history of the GDR," she told the Guardian.
So far, the senate has not shown any interest in Theissen's map, but she said she had not given up hope that the Russian revolutionary could still become the most famous exhibit in her show, which will display more than 100 original Berlin monuments from the 18th century to the fall of the Wall.
If the senate changes its mind, it will have to do so within the next month. The pit where the statue has been dug up is home to a protected species of lizard that goes into hibernation in October, preventing any excavation work from being carried out in time for the exhibition.
As a backup, the curators might want to consider locating a prop from Good Bye Lenin: the statue shown in the film is a bronze copy, not the original made of granite. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Lenin as Lesbian.

Lenin in the film (Tan de Repente) Suddenly is a female character as is Mao...
Tan de repente (Suddenly) is a 2002 Argentine and Dutch black-and-white comedy drama film directed by Diego Lerman and written by Lerman, María Meira, and Eloisa Solaas, based on the novel La prueba, written by César Aira. The drama features Tatiana Saphir, Carla Crespo, Veronica Hassan, among others.
A young, naive clerk at a lingerie store learns about love and her own identity.
The film begins as Marcia (Tatiana Saphir), a frumpy and overweight salesgirl who seems to lead a banal and dreary existence, goes to work one day. As she walks she catches the eye of a feisty butch punk woman named Mao (Carla Crespo) who tells Marcia she wants to seduce her. Marcia tells Mao that she's not a lesbian, but Mao is relentless. With the help of her friend Lenin (Veronica Hassan), Mao manages to talk Marcia into getting into a cab that the two lesbian women then immediately car-jack.
They take Marcia to the coast to see the ocean—which she has never seen before—before ending up at Lenin's Aunt Blanca's (Beatriz Thibaudin) house. Lenin has not seen Aunt Blanca for nine years, and they discover Blanca rents out rooms to two lodgers. Blanca proves fascinating to Lenin and the two begin redeveloping a connection. Lenin confesses that she has not spoken to her mother in three years.
When they are alone Mao makes love to Marcia, then leaves her alone. We learn that Marcia is quite lonely since her boyfriend recently dumped her. She feels abandoned by everyone.
Marcia, Mao, Lenin, and Blanca all affect each other in unexpected ways, and as a consequence, develop new relationships that each of the women had lacked in their lives.

The Star Trek, Shakesperean Lenin : Patrick Stewart in "Fall of Eagles".

One of the few English actors to play Lenin was Patrick Stewart in the Sixth episode of the fourteen part television drama Fall of Eagles. Better known for his Shakespearean roles in the theatre and his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek and Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men, Stewart appears in this episode as Lenin doing morning press-ups around the three minute mark:

Some stills  of Patrick Stewart as Lenin: 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Let them eat Lenin or having your own Lenin and eating him or simply Petit Bourgeois Cannibalism

Large scale Lenin cake created by artist Yuri Shabelnikov in the late 1990s.

From a CNN report:
A raised knife plunges into the chest of Vladimir Lenin moves upward through his neck and into his cheek. Sound gory? Actually, it was a piece of cake.
That is, a cake made to look like Lenin, the Russian revolutionary who died in 1924.
His embalmed body lies in a Moscow museum. As for the cake, it's long gone -- gobbled up by hungry Russians before you could say "Bolshevik."
A team of chefs cooked up the multi-layered Communist-inspired creation, which measured more than 2 meters (6 feet) long and weighed over 50 kilograms (110 pounds).

A Lenin cupcake:

Koudelka's Lenin

Some Lenin statue photos by Koudelka taken when Theo Anghelopolous was shooting Ulysses Gaze.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Lenin's Interview with the Guardian (1919)

This interview was possibly one of the first interviews that Lenin gave to the Guardian - he was also interviewed by Arthur Ransome for the Guardian in 1922 and with Michael Farbman a month earlier.  In 1919 the interviewer was W.T.Goode.

An interview with Lenin

Thursday 4 December 1919
The Guardian

The interview with Lenin had been a matter of some difficulty to arrange; not because he is unapproachable - he goes about with as little external trappings or precautions as myself - but because his time is so precious. He, even more than the other Commissaries, is continuously at work. But at last I had secured a free moment and drove from my room, across the city, to one of the gates of the Kremlin.

I had taken the precaution at the beginning of my stay to secure a pass that set me free from any possible molestation from officials or police, and this gave me admission to the Kremlin enclosure.

Entrance to the Kremlin is naturally guarded; it is the seat of the Executive Government; but the formalities are no more than have to be observed at Buckingham Palace or the House of Commons. A small wooden office beyond the bridge, where a civilian grants passes, and a few soldiers, ordinary Russian soldiers, one of whom receives and verifies the pass, were all there was to be seen at this entrance.

It is always being said that Lenin is guarded by Chinese. There were no Chinese here. I entered, mounted the hill, and drove across to the building where Lenin lives, in the direction of the large platform where formerly stood the Alexander statue, now removed. At the foot of the staircase were two more soldiers, Russian youths, but still no Chinese. I went up by a lift to the top floor, where I found two other young Russian soldiers, but no Chinese, nor in any of the three visits which I paid to the Kremlin did I see any.

I hung up my hat and coat in the ante-chamber, passed through a room, in which clerks were at work and entered the room in which the Executive Committee of the Council of People's Commissaries holds its meetings - in other words, the Council Chamber of the Cabinet of the Soviet Republic.

I had kept my appointment strictly to time, and my companion passed on (rooms in Russia are always en suite) to let Lenin know that I had arrived. I then followed into the room in which Lenin works and waited a minute for his coming. Here let me say that there is no magnificence about this suite of rooms. They are well and solidly furnished; the Council Chamber is admirably arranged for its purpose, but everything is simple, and there is an atmosphere of hard work about everything.

Of the meretricious splendour I had heard so much there is not a trace. I had but the time to make these observations, mentally, when Lenin entered the room. He is a man of middle height, about fifty years old, active, and well proportioned. His features at first sight seem to have a slight Chinese cast, and his hair and pointed beard have a ruddy brown tinge. The head is well domed, and his brow broad and well raised. He has a pleasant expression in talking, and indeed his manner can be described as distinctly prepossessing.

He speaks clearly in a well-modulated voice, and throughout the interview he never hesitated or betrayed the slightest confusion. Indeed, the one clearly cut impression he left on me was that here was a clear, cold brain, a man absolutely master of himself and of his subject, expressing himself with a lucidity that was as startling as it was refreshing. My companion had seated himself on the other side of the table to act as interpreter in case of need; he was not wanted.

After a word of introduction I asked what I should speak, French or German. He replied that if I did not object he would prefer to speak English, and that if I would only speak clearly and slowly he would be able to follow everything. I agreed, and he was as good as his word, for only once during the three-quarters of an hour that the meeting lasted did he stumble at a word, and then only for an instant; he had seized my meaning almost immediately.

I ought to state here that the thought of this interview had engaged me from the moment I had entered Russia. There were so many things I wanted to know, scores of questions occurred to me, and to secure the answers I longed to have would have required a discursive talk of hours had I begun my task with this interview. But by leaving it to the last my month's work had brought the answer to many of the questions, and others had been settled by a radiographic interview submitted from Lyons by a combination of American journalists.

It behoved me therefore to utilise to the best advantage the time rigidly apportioned- to me, wedged in between two important meetings. I had therefore reduced all my curiosity to three questions, to which the authoritative answers could be given only by Lenin himself, the head of the Government of the Soviet Republic.

He knew quite well who I was; he did know what I wanted. There could therefore be no question of preparation so far as he was concerned. I had spoken of my questions to only one man, the Commissary who accompanied me, and he became very depressed, and gave it as his opinion that Lenin would not answer them.

To his unfeigned astonishment the questions were answered promptly, simply, and decisively, and when the interview was ended my companion naively expressed his wonderment. The guidance of the interview was left to me. I began at once. I wanted to know how far the proposals which Mr. Bullitt took to the Conference at Paris still held good. Lenin replied that they still held good, with such modifications as the changing military situation might indicate. Later he added that in the agreement with Bullitt it had been stated that the changing military position might bring in alterations.

Continuing, he said that Bullitt was unable to understand the strength of British and American capitalism, but that if Bullitt were President of the United States peace would soon be made. Then I took up again the thread by asking what was the attitude of the Soviet Republic to the small nations who had split off the Russian Empire and had proclaimed their independence. He replied that Finland's independence had been recognised in November 1917; that he (Lenin) had personally handed to Swinhufvud, then head of the Finnish Republic, the paper on which this recognition was officially stated; that the Soviet Republic had announced sometime previously that no soldiers of the Soviet Republic would cross the frontier with arms in their hands; that the Soviet Republic had decided to create a neutral strip or zone between their territory and Esthonia, and would declare this publicly; that it was one of their principles to recognise the independence of all small nations, and that finally they had just recognised the independence of the Bashkir Republic - and, he added, the Bashkirs are a weak and backward people.

For the third time I took up the questioning asking what guarantees could be offered against official propaganda among the Western peoples, if by any chance relations with the Soviet Republic were opened. His reply was that they had declared to Bullitt that they were ready to sign an agreement not to make official propaganda. As a Government they were ready to undertake that no official propaganda should take place. If private persons undertook propaganda they would do it at their own risk and be amenable to the laws of the country in which they acted.

Russia has no laws, he said, against propaganda by British people. England has such laws; therefore Russia is the more liberal-minded. They would permit, he said, the British, or French, or American Government to carry on propaganda of their own. He cried out against the Defence of the Realm Act, and as for freedom of the Press in France, he declared that he had just been reading Henry Barbusse's novel Clarte, in which were two censored patches.

'They censor novels in free, democratic France!' I asked if he had any general statement to make, upon which he replied that the most important thing for him to say was that the Soviet system is the best, and that English workers and agricultural labourers would accept it if they knew it. He hoped that after peace the British Government would not prohibit the publication of the Soviet Constitution. That, morally, the Soviet system is even now victorious, and that the proof of the statement is seen in the persecution of Soviet literature in free, democratic countries.

My allotted time had expired and, knowing that he was needed elsewhere, I rose and thanked him, and, making my way back through Council Chamber and clerks' room to the stair and courtyard, where were the young Russian guards, I picked up my droshky and drove back across Moscow to my room to think over my meeting with Vladimir Ulianoff.

An Electrofunk Lenin

Clips from Sergei Yutkevich's film 'Lenin in Paris' set to music by the band 'Elefunk' starring the well-known Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Britons Mourn Lenin (1924)

A 1924 Memorial Service in London for Vladimir Ilyich captured on film by Pathe' News.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Lenin as a Statuesque Gulliver.

For me one of the most and beautiful lyric pieces of cinema is Theo Angelopolous's 'The Gaze of Ulysses' where a broken up Lenin statue is being taken down a river on a barge.

Lenin as Noodle Face

Another Roitburd- which depicts Lenin's face as a collection of noodles or wires.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Lenin the art lover

Dmitry Nalbandian's Lenin in the Dresden Gallery in 1914 (which apparently Lenin never visited)

A Lenin Striptease

Alexander Roitburd, an Odessa painter, made a Lenin installation in 2006. Here is part of it which portrays Lenin as doing a striptease:

Lenin Meets Giacometti.

Here's Leonid Sokov's 'Meeting of Sculptures' where a sculpture of Lenin meets Giacometti's A Man. An important work in the Sots Art movement where Pop Art meets Socialist Realism.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Eissler's atonal Lenin requiem.

Hanns Eisler (1898-1962): Lenin, Requiem per contralto, baritono, coro e orchestra (1935) -- Roswitha Trexler, contralto; Hermann Hähnel, baritono -- Rundfunkchor Leipzig e Rundfuk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig diretti da Adolf Fritz Guhl

Composed for the 10th anniversary of Lenin's death- this requiem marks a return to communicative style of atonal music. It wasn't performed in the Soviet Union because of its atonalism. The text by Brecht stresses Lenin's usefulness and avoids hero worship. (from

Introduction and Recitative
As Lenin was dying
(as they tell the story)
a soldier of the death watch
said to his comrades:
I didn't want to believe it!
I didn't want to believe it!
I went in there,
where he is lying,
and said to him:
"Ilyich, Ilyich!
The exploiters are coming!"
He didn't move.
Baritone Solo
Now I know that he is dead.
Aria (Alto with Choir)
When a good man wants to go away,
how can you hold him back?
Tell him
what he's needed for:
that will hold him,
that will hold him!
When a good man wants to go on,
how can you hold him back?
Tell him what he's needed for:
that will hold him,
that will hold him!
What could hold Lenin?
Baritone Solo
The soldier thought:
When he hears
the exploiters are coming,
he might be sick,
and he will get up from his bed anyway.
Perhaps he will come on crutches.
Perhaps he will let himself be carried,
but he will get up and fight
against the exploiters,
against the exploiters.
The soldier knew
that Lenin, his whole life long,
had fought against the exploiters.
Recitative (Alto)
And when the soldier was helping
storm the winter palace,
he wanted to go back home,
because on the fields
the winter crops were ready for planting.
Then Lenin said to him:
I know, but stay!
There are still exploiters,
and so long as exploitation still exists,
the fight against it must go on.
As long as it exists,
the fight against it must go on,
must go on.
Those who are weak don't fight.
Those who are stronger might fight
for an hour.
Those who are stronger still might fight
for many years.
The strongest fight
their whole life.
They are the indispensable ones.
In Praise of the Fighters (Ballad, baritone and choir)
There are many who just get in the way:
it's better when they move on.
But when he's gone, he is missed.
He organizes his fight
around better wages,
for water to make tea,
for power in the state.
He asks of property:
Where do you come from?
He asks of opinions:
Whom do you benefit?
Where everyone else is silent
there will he speak,
and where oppression rules
and others blame it on fate,
he will name names.
Where he sits at table,
dissatisfaction sits there too,
the food will be bad
and the room will seem confining.
Wherever they chase him,
revolt will go with him,
and wherever they've chased him out,
unrest will remain behind anyway.
Alto Solo and Chorus
Towards the time when Lenin died
and was missed,
the victory had been won by fighting,
but the country lay in ruins.
The masses had broken their chains
but the way forward was still in darkness.
When Lenin died,
the soldiers sat on the curbstones and wept,
and the workers ran from their machines
and shook their fists to the skies.
When Lenin died,
it was as if the tree and the leaves said,
I am leaving now.
Alto Solo, Baritone Solo and Chorus
Since that time thirteen years have passed.
A sixth of the world is free from exploitation.
When they hear the warning—
the exploiters are coming!—
the masses rise up again
ready to fight.
Lenin is enshrined
in the great heart
of the working class.
He was our teacher.
He fought with us.
And is now enshrined
in the great heart
of the working class. 

Translation by Andy Lang. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Lenin as an ambulant beer seller in Danish comedy 'Lenin, You Rascal, You'

The Danish film actor Peter Steen is one of the many who have impersonated Lenin in film. Here, in one clip, Lenin appears to be an improbable ambulant beer seller in the Danish comedy Lenin, You Rascal, You. Not sure if there is any version with English (or other foreign language subtitles) unfortunately.

It won two Bodil awards apparently. For best cinematography and best supporting actor and was directed by Kirsten Stenbaek.

Lenin as a tourist icon: Fight Breaks out between Lenin and Stalin Near Red Square!

Lenin and Stalin fight over their tourist pitch near Red Square. At around 3:40 into the video, Lenin whacks Stalin with a red flag. Alas no ideological disputes caused this but a simple business conflict.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Lenin destroyed. Diego Riviera's - A Man at the Crossroads

Mexican replacement of the mural destroyed by Nelson Rockefeller because it contained an image of Lenin and a Soviet May Day Parade.

The creattion and destruction of the mural is dramatized in the films Cradle Will Rock (1999) and Frida (2002) as well as the Tamil film Anbe Sivam in which an Indian Communist argues with a supporter of capitalism.

A description of the controversy taken from this Diego Rivera link:

On 24 April 1933 the New York World-Telegram newspaper published an article attacking the mural as anti-capitalist propaganda. A few days later Rivera added the portrait of Lenin to the work. This precipitated a major controversy by May. The bad publicity greatly upset Rockefeller. Rivera was asked to remove the picture of Lenin, but refused, instead offering to add Abraham Lincoln to the work as way of a compromise. Rockefeller then left the decision about the future of the mural to Todd-Robertson-Todd. Rivera was fully paid the promised amount for his work, but the mural was covered in drapery and left incomplete. Despite protests from art lovers and attempts to get it to moved to the Museum of Modern Art, it remained covered until the early weeks of 1934, when it was destroyed by workmen. The destruction caused widespread controversy. Ralph Stackpole and Bernard Zakheim (who headed a group of artists commissioned by the WPA to paint murals at the Coit Tower in San Francisco) protested, and also included references to the incident in the form of headlines in newspapers held by figures in their paintings. 

Concerned that Rockefeller would destroy the work, Rivera had asked an assistant, Lucienne Bloch, to take photographs of the mural before it was destroyed. Using them as a reference, Rivera repainted the mural, though at a smaller scale, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City where it was renamed Man, Controller of the Universe. The composition was almost identical, the main difference being that the central figure was moved slightly to be aligned with the supporting mast of the cylindrical telescope above him. 
The new version included a portrait of Leon Trotsky alongside Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels at the right, and others, including Charles Darwin, at the left and Nelson Rockefeller's father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a lifelong teetotaler, seen drinking in a nightclub with a woman; above their heads is a dish of syphilis bacteria. 

E.B. White's Poem dedicated to the Rivera mural controversy "I Paint What I See : A Ballad of Artistic Integrity"
"What do you paint when you paint a wall?"
Said John D.'s grandson Nelson.
"Do you paint just anything there at all?
"Will there be any doves or a tree in fall?
"Or a hunting scene like an English hall?"
"I paint what I see," said Rivera.
"What are the colors you use when you paint?"
Said John D.'s grandson, Nelson.
"Do you use any red in the beard of a saint?
"If you do is it terribly red, or faint?
"Do you use any blue? Is it Prussian?"
"I paint what I paint," said Rivera.
"Whose is that head I see on my wall?"
Said John D.'s grandson Nelson.
"Is it anyone's head whom we know, at all?
"A Rensselaer, or a Saltonstall?
"Is it Franklin D.? Is it Mordaunt Hall?
"Or is it the head of a Russian?"
"I paint what I think," said Rivera.
"I paint what I paint, I paint what I see,
"I paint what I think," said Rivera,
"And the thing that is dearest in life to me
"In a bourgeois hall is Ingegrity;
"I'll take out a couple of people drinkin'
"And put in a picture of Abraham Lincoln,
"I could even give you McCormick's reaper
"And still not make my art much cheaper.
"But the head of Lenin has got to stay
"Or my friends will give me the bird today
"The bird, the bird, forever."
"It's not good taste in a man like me,"
Said John D.'s grandson Nelson,
"To question an artist's integrity
"Or mention a practical thing like a fee,
"But I know what I like to a large degree
"Though art I hate to hamper;
"For twenty-one thousand conservative bucks
"You painted a radical. I say shucks,
"I never could rent the offices.
"For this, as you know, is a public hall
"And people want doves or a tree in fall,
"And though your art I dislike to hamper,
"I owe a little to God and Gramper,
"And after all,
"It's my wall...."
"We'll see if it is," said Rivera.
[First published in The New Yorker, May 20, 1933 during the controversy over Diego Rivera's mural in Rockefeller Center which was destroyed the following year on February 9, 1934.]


Andy Warhol Lenin's.

A Lenin A Day Will Keep The Capitalists At Bay. / Footage of the Death of Lenin.

This blog has been rather abandoned, though now I hope to offer a Lenin image, anecdote, quote, video a day to make up for lost time.

Here's shot footage of the death of Lenin: