Apollo Magazine

Remaking the Russian revolutionaries

Why is Stalin vaping and what does Karl Marx have in common with Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Stalin vapes for votes © Igor Petrygin-Rodionov

For understandable reasons, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has a difficult association with the past. This may be why it commissioned St Petersburg-based artist Igor Petrygin-Rodionov to give it and its founding fathers a makeover before Russia’s parliamentary elections last Sunday.

In an interview with a Russian magazine, Petrygin-Rodionov explained that he wanted to make the party appeal to a younger generation of voters. His solution? Give the icons of Communist history a makeover…

The artist described Bolshevik party founder Vladimir Lenin as ‘a character full of energy, maybe even a sex symbol’. Which is certainly true if you like your ideologues to look like something from a Topman catalogue.

Karl Marx channels Arnold Schwarzenegger. © Igor Petrygin-Rodionov

Karl Marx gets a similar treatment. Tight jeans, red T-shirt, leather jacket, and an outsized copy of Das Kapital make him the very picture of a right-on cultural-studies lecturer – and one as resilient as the Terminator, it seems.

Stalin fares rather better. Given that, as a young man, he was photographed looking as if he’d walked out of a Dazed & Confused fashion shoot, little cosmetic change was required. All Petrygin-Rodionov has done is substitute the dashing mass-murderer’s pipe for an E-cigarette.

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