Ukrainian Artist Transforms Lenin Statue into Darth Vader—What?
The Star Wars characters are a regular presence in the country's political landscape.
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.
“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.”
“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.
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.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.