Ukrainian curator Kateryna Filiuk explores the way Ukraine is dealing with its Soviet past. She believes the ideal solution lies in a democratic balance between resurgent nationalist pride and the legacy of dictatorship.
Much of the Soviet mindset has prevailed in Ukraine over the past two decades. Old communists, for example, became new bureaucrats. While other former Soviet satellites wasted no time in removing statues of Lenin after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Kyiv the founder of the Soviet Union remained on his plinth on central Bessarabska Square. Until the Maidan revolution that is, when this Lenin, too, was knocked off his pedestal by protesters. “I wanted to discover how people could reclaim public space if they’re given the opportunity,” says curator Kateryna Filiuk. Her Izolyatsia art center invited Mexican artist Cynthia Gutiérrez to Kyiv in the summer of 2016 to propose an alternative use of Lenin’s bare plinth. During her temporary installation, visitors were invited to climb metal stairs to the top of the pedestal. Some participants were surprised by what they discovered.