Over the 15 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, revolutionary memorabilia, including Lenin’s memorabilia, have become a fetish of the post-Communist era, something that has a clear market value, a “Communist antiquity,” sold for souvenirs. In this project, I attempt to free Revolutionary icons, with a particular focus on Lenin’s memorabilia, from the market and negate their market value.
Throughout 2008, I had been purchasing Lenin’s memorabilia at my own expense, including Lenin’s busts, small statues, posters, photographs, etc. These objects were on display at the Winkleman Gallery from September 5 – October 4, 2008. Over the course of the exhibition (except during the opening reception), visitors were placing a reserve on any available object, on a first-come—first-served basis, and then took it away for free, after the show closes. The reserved objects remained on display for the duration of the exhibition. To place an object on reserve, however, a visitor had to sign an agreement between Winkleman Gallery and his- or herself certifying that he or she will never sell, or otherwise enter this object in the market, or make any profit from this object in any shape or form. A copy of the signed agreement was also exhibited as part of the exhibition.
The choice to adopt Lenin on the part of an audience member is not a manifestation of her/his subscription to communist ideology, but rather an acknowledgement of Communism as one of defining features of the 20th century historical narrative.