Ukrainian Artist Transforms Lenin Statue into Darth Vader—What?

The Star Wars characters are a regular presence in the country's political landscape.

The statue was unveiled by a man dressed as Darth Vader accompanied by Storm Troopers. Photo: Sergey Gumenyuk via APA/EPA

A Ukrainian artist has transformed a statue of communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in Odessa into a monument to Darth Vader, after “de-communization” laws enforcing the removal of communist remnants came into effect.

Oleksandr Milov added new parts to the plaster sculpture to transform the former communist leader into the Star Wars villain. It’s not the first time artists have subversively reimagined traditional monuments to the communist leader—recall the peeing Lenin fountain erected in Poland this past year. We’re not sure which is more awesome.

(Getting rid of Lenin may be the new mandate in Ukraine, public artworks of the politician have sparked a new, less dangerous selfie craze among young people in Russia.)

“After the de-communization law was adopted earlier this year, we had to decide what to do with the monument (of Lenin),” the artist told AFP. “Honestly, I did not like the idea of destroying it, so we decided on a more flexible solution.”

Artist Oleksandr Milov is responsible for the transformation.<br /> Photo: Volodymyr Shuvayev via AFP Photo

Artist Oleksandr Milov is responsible for the transformation.
Photo: Volodymyr Shuvayev via AFP Photo

“The idea was obvious since the Darth Vader movement has been at the center of Ukrainians’ attention in recent years,” the artist explained.

Indeed, several candidates from Ukraine’s Pirate Party—one of over 40 groups that advocate freedom of speech, internet freedom, and limits on copyright laws—have dressed up as Star Wars characters to attract media attention to their political beliefs.

In fact, a Chewbacca character was arrested during the elections that took place on Sunday in Odessa. Moreover, a candidate dressed as Darth Vader was disqualified the 2014 presidential election after refusing to divulge his true identity. Later that year, two mysterious Darth Vader characters ran for Mayor in Kiev and Odessa. Last November, candidates dressed as the giant hairy Chewbacca, the little Jedi Master Yoda, and Princess Amidala unsuccessfully ran in the Ukrainian parliamentary election too.

The state before 'doccomunization' (R) and after, (L) Photo: qz.com

The Lenin statue before its “de-communization” (left) and after (right)
Photo: qz.com

What may seem like a farcical or comical publicity stunt has been interpreted by some political pundits as a deliberate and calculated appropriation of Western and American culture by Ukrainian politics to provoke Russia’s fiercely anti-Western and anti-American stance.

The transformation of a Lenin statue—a figure revered by Russians and pro Russian Ukrainian separatists—into a globally recognized Hollywood villain is particularly symbolic of the tension currently dividing Ukraine.


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