Madonna, Lenin and the Virgin Mary in a installation in Kyiv
The iconic faces of Madonna, the Virgin Mary and Lenin are part of a temporary installation by Mahmoud Bakhshi at the former site of the Lenin’s monument in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The Installation by the Iranian artist is called the Endless Celebration.
The installation is part of the Social Contract project that started in June 2016. Social Contract is a project by IZOLYATSIA aimed at creating a discussion platform for art community, society and authorities on the status and functions of commemorative objects in public space, using the case of the Lenin statue in Kyiv as an example. The destruction of the statue of Lenin in Kyiv in December 2013 triggered the symbolic Leninfall around the country, calling into action a controversial set of laws on Decommunisation to a broad polemic in Ukrainian society.
The Endless Celebration by Mahmoud Bakhshi is a subjective ironical comment made by the artist on this particular historical moment that culminated in the radical action of removing the monument.
The artist developed this project as an attempt to visually articulate the historical choice made by the Ukrainians when they removed the Lenin monument from its place. Mahmoud Bakhshi chose the changing colours of a traffic light to signpost the impossibility to go back to the past as red and the new possible directions as green and yellow. Three face images carefully selected by the artist are Madonna, Lenin, and the Virgin Mary. Presumably, they embody three essential pillars of society, namely ideology, religion and economy.
On top of that, Mahmoud Bakhshi resorts to the neon as a medium that has a long history of employment in commercial advertisement and specifically tags neoliberal values, aspired by the Ukrainian society. Each idol seems to address the audiences with the simple call “buy me”.
The date of the opening intentionally coincided with the celebration of the Great October Revolution which since not so long ago is doomed to oblivion in contemporary Ukraine. Commemoration of certain historical events as well as common flower-laying ceremony is another quite direct instrument of propaganda. In this respect, Endless Celebration inauguration is an act of non-celebration, liberation from the burden of Soviet propaganda and a way to try to desacralize the site once again.