Archive: sculptures
What is the mystery behind these decapitated Lenin statues?

What is the mystery behind these decapitated Lenin statues?

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Krivyi Rih, 8 june 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Krivyi Rih, 8 June 2016

Sculptures of social influencers help the citizens of a country to stay connected to their history. While it is important for both good and bad events to be documented in history, some monuments suffer outright rejection. This is the case as it is in Ukraine today where there seems to be waging war against Soviet symbols. Niels Ackermann and Sebastien Gobert have turned their artistic lenses on Lenin, the leader of Russia in 1917. Contrary to other photographers who focus on the aftermath of war, these two are interested in the story behind the war. The journey began in 2013, after the conflict of Maidan which saw the toppling over and smashing of the city’s last Lenin statue.

Niels Ackermann takes the pictures and his colleague Sebastien Gobert tells the stories. Their quest to preserve history has taken them on a tour of western Ukraine, looking for the story behind fallen Lenins under the project banner “Lost in Decommunization”. In the same way that the rise of Lenin was documented, Niels Ackermann and Sebastien Gobert seek to document his fate as he goes down. Once held in high esteem, this project will trace his path from glory to an unlikely trophy.

To think of the 5000 statues of Lenin in Ukraine, way above 2000 in Russia and then imagine that more than half that number would disappear with independence is frightening for future generations who have no visuals with which to connect history. It is estimated that the civil unrest that began in 2013 took down a further 1200. In an effort to forget this part of their past, Ukraine banned everything that is connected to Russia; from flags, street names, road signs, and the massive statues. The destruction of statues dubbed “Lenin-fall” is symbolic to their disconnection from the past. While there might be concrete justification for this, the process is quite dysfunctional.

In their journey of looking for Lenin, Niels Ackermann and Sebastien Gobert have had to traverse through Ukraine in search of the fallen sculptures. They find some in museums, gardens, kitchens and private collections but each discovery is unique. Quite fascinating is the reaction they get from Ukrainians; for some, it is indifference but many others want the Soviet Legacy gone for good. If for nothing else, the work they do is an integrated piece of art that combines investigation, discovery, stories, and pictures. For future generations, these and such works will form the basis for a fascinating debate about the journey they are taking as a nation.

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Odessa, November 2015
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Artist Alexander Milov transformed this Lenin statue into Darth Vader outside an Odessa factory. Odessa, 21 november 2015.

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Dnipropetrovsk, November 2015
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Dnipropetrovsk, November 2015
The head of Dnipropetrovsk’s Lenin was given to the city’s National Historical Museum. It remains in storage as the institution does not currently have the resources to exhibit it. Dnipropetrovsk (now Dnipro). November 13, 2015

's head back together again by Yevgenia Belorusets, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, February 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – This nose belonged to a 28-foot-tall statue of Lenin, once the largest in Ukraine. It is now on display at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev as part of Yevgenia Belorusets’s installation “Let’s Put Lenin’s Head Back Together.” Kyiv, 5 february 2016.

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kharkiv
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kharkiv

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kharkiv
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kharkiv

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kharkiv
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kharkiv
A private collector has assembled a large collection of Soviet-era monuments, including dozens of Lenin statues. He stores them in his warehouse alongside materials for his glass business. Kharkiv. February 2, 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kharkiv
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kharkiv

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kharkiv
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kharkiv

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Korzhi, 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – The village of Korzhi is attempting to sell its statue for $15,000 to fund repairs to the local kindergarten and school. The price is high, and they have had no offers. The local mechanic in charge of the sale expects he will eventually have to trade it for scrap metal for less than $3,000. June 3, 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kramatorsk
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kramatorsk

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kramatorsk
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kramatorsk

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Kremenchuk, March 30, 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Kremenchuk, March 30, 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Museum of Soviet Occupation, Kiev, 12 sept 2015
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Museum of Soviet Occupation, Kiev, 12 sept 2015

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kiev, February 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kiev, February 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Novobohdanivka. September 30, 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Novobohdanivka, September 30, 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Shabo, Odessa region. November 21, 2015
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – A decapitated Lenin statue in Chabo. Chabo, Odessa region, 21 nov 2015

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Slavyansk
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Lenin monument in a municipal storage. Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine. 15 Sept 2015.

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Teplivka. July 26, 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Teplivka. July 26, 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station in Chernobyl, 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station in Chernobyl, 2016
This Lenin head is more than two meters tall and previously stood on the site of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station in Chernobyl. It is now stored in a room used by the facility cleaning staff. Despite the authorities claims of contamination, no significant levels of radiation were found. October 6, 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Zaporizhia, March 2016
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Zaporizhia, March 2016

Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert - Looking for Lenin - Zhytomyr
Niels Ackermann & Sebastien Gobert – Zhytomyr


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Is this a clever artwork or simply ignorant vandalism?

Is this a clever artwork or simply ignorant vandalism?

Ai Weiwei, Coloured Vases, 2006
Ai WeiweiColoured Vases, 2006

Exhibition visitors have expressed feelings of uneasiness or even pain and nostalgia when seeing Coloured Vases by Ai Weiwei. The 51 vases that make up the artwork are originally treasures from the Neolithic Age (5000–3000 BCE) and the artist has dunked them in common industrial paint, commenting on the devastation caused by the Chinese cultural revolution and the disregard for centuries-old craftsmanship. By covering the surfaces, the history of the vases is no longer visible, but still there, beneath the dried layer of industrial color. Some viewers have felt provoked by this audacious act, in their eyes destroying something rare and precious, instead of safeguarding and worshipping it.

Like with many other works by Ai Weiwei, he uses irony to challenge viewers’ assumptions and perspectives. As China’s most notorious artist, he finds himself in constant confrontation with the Chinese authorities, and Coloured Vases is an essential piece in his rebellious oeuvre.

Ai Weiwei, coloured Vases, 2006, Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BC), industrial paint, 51 pieces, dimensions variable
Ai WeiweiColoured Vases, 2006, Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BC), industrial paint, 51 pieces, dimensions variable

Ai Weiwei, Coloured Vases, 2006
Ai WeiweiColoured Vases, 2006

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Leading artist: 19 Western sculptures for stunning installation

Leading artist: 19 Western sculptures for stunning installation

Xu Zhen, European Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, Long Museum, Shanghai, 2015 - 1
Xu ZhenEuropean Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, glass fiber reinforced concrete, marble grains, marble, metal, 304 x 1470 x 473 cm, Produced by MadeIn Company, at Long Museum, Shanghai, China, 2015
Photo: Thomas Fuesser

Xu Zhen is a leader within the domain of contemporary Chinese art, and is said to be one of the most sought-after international contemporary artists. Xu Zhen uses inspiration from both Chinese and Western cultures while combining the embodiment of both. He uses sociocultural frameworks as an inspiration for his pieces as an attempt to target and what many would argue decrease ignorance surrounding “foreign” cultures.

Xu Zhen occupies an artistic practice that uses numerous mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography and performance.

His creation European Thousand-Hand Classical Sculpture combines 19 distinctive Western classical sculptures of numerous forms; deriving from the shape of the Thousand-Hand Guanyin (Bodhisattva) in Buddhist iconography. Thus Xu Zhen’s work deals with the sense of form and spirituality.

This piece combines the serene Buddhist statues of the East together with the exquisite western style of Greek statues, mediating spans of space and time referencing a very long time of scale of art history. Xu Zhen’s extensive body of work evokes instances of complexity. Through his artwork he demonstrates his personal curiosity about the difference between cultures and the alienation between them, while also thinking of misconceptions can be the place that introduces awareness and understanding. He uses his artwork to increase the understanding between different cultures. Thus artwork is a place of navigation, a place of mediation, a place of understanding.

Through creating discussions and a place in which these discussions can be instigated, Xu Zhen tries to bring cultural awareness and relativism to the world of art in addition to the social sphere. By creating a stimulating site for these discussions in addition to a safe place to house them (such as an exhibit) misconceptions can be corrected and a new level of cultural understanding is formed.

Xu Zhen, European Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, Long Museum, Shanghai, 2015
Xu ZhenEuropean Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, glass fiber reinforced concrete, marble grains, marble, metal, 304 x 1470 x 473 cm, Produced by MadeIn Company, at Long Museum, Shanghai, China, 2015
Photo: Thomas Fuesser

Xu Zhen, European Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, Long Museum, Shanghai, 2015
Xu ZhenEuropean Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, glass fiber reinforced concrete, marble grains, marble, metal, 304 x 1470 x 473 cm, Produced by MadeIn Company, at Long Museum, Shanghai, China, 2015

Xu Zhen, European Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, Long Museum, Shanghai, 2015
Xu ZhenEuropean Thousand-Arms Classical Sculpture, 2014, glass fiber reinforced concrete, marble grains, marble, metal, 304 x 1470 x 473 cm, Produced by MadeIn Company, at Long Museum, Shanghai, China, 2015

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Spaceship-like sculptures in French forests

Spaceship-like sculptures in French forests

By Chifumi


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