The eerie beauty of Ukraine’s Lenin statues, toppled in the name of decommunization
In the process of decommunisation, Ukraine has toppled all its Lenin monuments. The authors have hunted down and photographed these banned Soviet statues, revealing their inglorious fate. As Russia celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, Ukraine struggles to achieve complete decommunization. Perhaps the most dramatic demonstration of this process is the phenomenon of Leninopad (Lenin-fall)—the toppling of Lenin statues. In 2015 the Ukrainian parliament passed legislation banning these monuments as symbols of the obsolete Soviet regime. From an original population of 5500 in 1991, today not a single Lenin statue remains standing in Ukraine.
Photographer Niels Ackermann and journalist Sébastien Gobert, both based in Kyiv, have scoured the country in search of the remains of these toppled figures. They found them in the most unlikely of places: Lenin inhabits gardens, scrap yards and store rooms. He has fallen on hard times—cut into pieces; daubed with paint in the colors of the Ukrainian flag; transformed into a Cossack or Darth Vader—but despite these attempts to reduce their status, the statues retain a sinister quality, resisting all efforts to separate them from their history.
These compelling images are combined with witness testimonies to form a unique insight, revealing how Ukrainians perceive their country, and how they are grappling with the legacy of their Soviet past to conceive a new vision of the future.