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Aleksey Azarov
Wake up!

02 February — 13 March 2021
H3 11.12 Gallery

Aleksey Azarov
Wake up!


Perhaps no figure in Soviet history has become as legendary as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. A collection of stories for children, written by Mikhail Zoshchenko in 1940, played a major role in creating the image of the kindly grandfather. In them, the world leader of the proletariat appears as a man ready to come to the aid of every Soviet man, to help him in his hour of need. Subsequently, around this image have many anecdotes and stories, and the modern man is now difficult to distinguish reality from fiction.

In his new project "Wake Up!" Alexey Azarov not only continues this tradition, but develops it even further. In his interpretation, the famous slogan "Lenin lived, Lenin is alive, Lenin will live" takes on a completely different meaning. Imagine for a moment that the leader of the Soviet people is not dead, but only asleep for a hundred years. Azarov imagines what that might look like in the near future: Lenin walking around a museum looking at his portraits, giving an interview to Yuri Dudya, putting up for sale the now-unnecessary Mausoleum, and so on. From a national hero, he transforms into a fantastic figure of world magnitude, able even today to astound people with his importance. History now takes an entirely different turn.

The documentation is mixed up with outright fiction, and it is already difficult to separate them. Azarov in his works refers to the art of the 20th century, reinterpreting their experience. As a comparison, Sots-art comes to mind first, but if Komar and Melamid ironically interpreted Soviet ideology as an element of pop culture, Azarov embeds the legendary image of the leader (and its accompanying elements) into our contemporary reality. In other words, the artist is practically creating a new alternative history. This is why he makes an omens to Rinat Voligamsi and his Unofficial Album, which many took to be an authentic archival document.

Lenin in our perception is no longer so much a historical as a mythological character. Even his appearance and the way he speaks only reinforce this image. For us, he is no longer a fair helper in the fate of the proletarians, as he once was for our mothers and fathers and grandparents, but a kindly old timberman, more like a cartoon character who gets into trouble, but always comes out the winner.