Project

The Spirit of the Times: Objects That Are Subject to Decommunization in Nikita Yurenev’s Series

Kyiv photographer Nikita Yurenev photographs the monuments to iconic Soviet figures, steles, and other remnants of the Soviet Union in the Ukraine before they are dismantled in accordance with the so-called decommunization laws.
Nikita Yurenev Age 31

Graduated from National Technical University of Ukraine ‘Kyiv Polytechnic Institute’. Worked for Ukrinform and ITAR-TASS information agencies. Photographs for Ukrainian art festival Gogolfest and film festival Molodist, as well as for New York theater groups Lost & Found Project and Yara Arts Group.

— Ukraine has been an independent state for 25 years now. However, the rethinking of all Soviet history and the real process of decommunization has started in the country only after the Euromaidan protests of 2013-2014. Decommunization assumes different forms — from brutal destruction to sensible and constructive activities.

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Human nature makes us very susceptible to symbols, that is why the easiest and most straightforward way is to completely ban and destroy all visual and semantic elements of the Soviet epoch.

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That fact that many Soviet symbols are objects that have certain historical or cultural value poses a question: How do we fit these objects into today’s reality? Can they be preserved as museum objects? Should we destroy or transform them? How do we change the way of thinking and the ideas of the people of the post-Soviet epoch, looking into the future instead of fighting the past?

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History goes in cycles, and the revolutionary enthusiasm of the activists in 2016 much resembles the events of one hundred years ago. Our contemporary revolutionaries get rid of the symbols erected by the revolutionaries of the past, trying to distance themselves from the events of that time and from that epoch.

However, simply distancing ourselves is not enough. Many European countries have had to work through their own complicated histories, and Ukraine is no different.

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