Monumental art was an essential part of everyday life in the USSR. It included not only imposing statues of Soviet leaders and impressive memorials to the fallen soldiers and heroic revolutionaries, sculpted by famous artists, but also unassuming pieces, hidden in plain sight. Countless monuments to anonymous soccer players, pioneers, factory workers, mass-produced busts of Lenin and Karl Marx, as well as symbolic mosaics were ever-present reminders of Soviet ideals, decorating apartment buildings, public places and government facilities in every town.
Photographer Igor Mukhin took an interest in such pieces around the same time he was documenting the late Soviet counter-culture and nascent rock scene: “They were everywhere, encircling each of us. You couldn't help but notice them. At rock-gigs, songs about freedom were performed against the backdrop of Lenin statues and party slogans. Elements of propaganda were propelled into the future by the new generation of artists such as Ilya Kabakov and Erik Bulatov. That was the time I became interested in street propaganda and second-rate monuments, which were inescapable in my childhood: I had met them at school, at pioneer summer camp, at health resorts, etc.”
The project, under the name ”Soviet monumental art research,” as well as Mukhin's iconic images of underground celebrities of the era, will be featured at the exhibition “Alternative culture of the 80s,” opening February 17 at the Moscow Multimedia Art Museum.