Archive for April, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lenin!


He would have been 140 years old today. Some celebrate with BBQ‘s. Some celebrate by looking at his old socks. Others with giant billboards questioning capitalism.

I’m going with none of the above.

(on the left is a photo of his current abode — Lenin Mausoleum, Red Square, Moscow)


“I painted Tank Pink to Get a Girl”


Last time I was in Prague I came across a little girl playing on a tank painted pink. The sculpture, picture above, is in a residential area on the less-touristy side of the Vltava River. I had always wondered what the story was, and now I know. Apparently artist David Cerny painted the tank pink in an attempt to get the attention of a girl he had his eye on. That and he was making a bold anti-war statement… Read the interview, the guy’s charming. If he wasn’t so into art, he’d be a pilot.

There are a lot of military remnants throughout the former Soviet Union and in former communist countries like the Czech Republic. Many of them are on display in more sombre ways than this particular installation. It’s good to re-work these objects with a sense of humour. Perhaps more people will be interested in finding out about where the tank came from (I suspect it’s leftovers from Prague Spring 1968) and learn a bit about the history of the city while they’re buying their Czech glass, taking the historic (empty) synagogue  tour and searching for the perfect Kafka snow-globe.

“So, how do you like living under capitalism?” Celebrating Lenin’s Birthday in Ukraine


These billboards have popped up in Luhansk, in southeastern Ukraine to mark the upcoming 140th birthday of Lenin. Arguing freedom of speech in a democratic country, the Communist Party of Ukraine is stirring up controversy with these billboards, asking local residents how they like living under capitalism. After almost 20 years of independence, much of the population of Ukraine still suffers from poverty and sub-standard living conditions, a shaky political situation and dying hopes of joining (and benefitting from) the European Union.

As Lenin is feted as though he is still alive (and in many ways, the myth, if not the man, is alive and well) I think it is a good idea to think about what it is to live under capitalism, both in the Ukraine and the rest of the world. Questioning what democracy and capitalism have done for us is one of the rights and privileges afforded the “free world”, and the more often we take it out for a brisk walk, the better.