April 15, 2016 by AK
There’s an ongoing discussion of whether statues of Cecil Rhodes should be removed from the university campuses in Cape Town and Oxford. In their letters to The London Review of Books, Marina Warner and John Barnie point at the approach adopted by India, Hungary, and Lithuania. Warner writes:
On Delhi’s old parade ground… the viceroys and heroes of the Raj, who once proudly dominated city squares and streets up and down the subcontinent, have been put out to pasture. Likewise, in Budapest, the brokers of the Communist bloc have been moved to ‘Memento Park’, where ‘giant monuments from the Soviet dictatorship’ are displayed cheek by jowl: they’re all here, the heroic peasants and founders of the fatherland, Comrades Lenin and Stalin…
Barnie reports on a lovely park near the old spa town of Druskininkai:
In Grutas Park in Lithuania, statues of Soviet and Lithuanian Communist leaders have been gathered and put on display. Set in a dense conifer forest, it is an excellent place to wander and contemplate a nation’s discarded past.
Neither letter mentions the permanent, open air exhibition of Soviet and post-Soviet sculpture at Muzeon, in Moscow. Since Muzeon is located in the former capital of the Soviet empire, it seems a more fitting parallel to Oxford than Dehli or Grutas. The museum’s selection of works is not limited to Soviet realist memorials but they are probably its main attraction. Muzeon invites visitors to view the statues as works of art, set next to works by post-Soviet Russian sculptors, and judge their artistic merit for themselves.