Red Christmas
Red Christmas
By:, Categories: Words & Images, 1 comment


In a week that saw Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov, otherwise known as Lenin, being knocked from his pedestal, smashed into pieces by mallet-wielding men and carried off in hundreds of small granite chunks in Kiev after hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets in the latest display of anger at President Viktor Yanukovich’s rejection of closer ties with Europe in preference with Russia, here in Seattle, in a marvellous juxtaposition, they were venerating the one and only US public statue of the Bolshevik totalitarian dictator by bedecking it with Christmas lights.


You can find this larger-than-life (all 7 tons of it), controversial bronze rendering of Lenin as he glares down at you from his corner perch in the funky, free-thinking beatnik Republic of Fremont, just across from the old Doric Masonic Lodge (they cater for all tastes in Fremont!). The statue was created by Emil Venkov, a Slavic artist, and installed in his home-town of Poprad, in 1988. But just a year later, Lewis Carpenter, an American veteran teaching in Poprad, found the sculpture – much like in Kiev right now – lying face down after it was toppled during the 1989 Revolution that witnessed the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Carpenter mortgaged his Issaquah home so he could bring it back home to sell. He died in 1994 but the family now owns the statue and its still placed there temporarily for view and sale (offers of around $150k and a good home – would make an ideal Christmas gift!), both to fulfil Carpenter’s dream – that the work be seen and enjoyed and eventually find a permanent home – and to serve as a reminder of an important period of history.


And with Fremont being Fremont, each Christmas – in a move that would make this non-believer turn in his glass box back in Mother Russia –  old Lennie gets into the spirit of things by being decked out in lights and seasonal trimmings. And there’s no truth in the rumour that, during this time of the year, and in keeping with the spirit of almost round-the-clock showings of It’s A Wonderful Life, if you hear a bell ringing beside the statue then a (Friedrich) Engels gets his wings.


Leica M7 & 35mm Summicron
Fuji Velvia 50
f5.6/12 seconds
Color Processing & scanning by Panda Lab


1 Comment

  • Wonderful image of Lenin's reaction to be part of the Christmas festivities. The Ukranians might have formulated a more effective protest/insult by bedecking their Lenin statue in finery at every Christian calendar event of the year!