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Disgraced Monuments

Disgraced Monuments

classified 18 (CTBA) PS
Film

Please note: This was screened in July 2021

Director
Laura Mulvey, Mark Lewis
Details
48 mins, Partially Subtitled, 1994, UK
Primary language
Russian

Shot in Moscow and Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad) in 1991 and 1992 Laura Mulvey and Mark Lewis’ documentary explores the legacy of years of public statues that memorialise successive political regimes and events in the USSR but which now find themselves reappraised in a post-Soviet Russian culture.

Are these statues an important part of a common shared culture, however traumatic, or a painful reminders of years of oppression which should be removed? Some, of course, were famously brought down - we see footage of the dismantling of a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the infamous Soviet secret police.

Disgraced Monuments also reminds us of the cyclical nature of history reflecting on the Russian Revolution when symbols associated with Czarist rule were torn down. Only recently have efforts been made to preserve public sculptures as part of Russian heritage. Featuring rare archival footage and interviews with sculptors, art historians and critics, gallery and museum directors, the film offers an interesting perspective on contemporary debates around public statues in the UK. Perhaps, as one art historian in the film comments: "It’s easier to struggle with monuments than with concrete reality".