Lenin and the Star of David

March 5, 2014
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This month’s online exhibition features the work of Alina and Jeff Bliumis, who explore how the “noble idea” of Communist Russia ultimately failed and effected their lives. Below is a statement about the pieces in their own words:

“Geometric Geography: Examples 5 and 6” appears, from a distance, as a Star of David. On closer examination, one can see it is constructed from more than 1,500 Soviet Union-issued gold star pins. Each pin displays the child portrait of the founder of the Russian Communist Party, Vladimir Lenin.

Both of us, Alina and Jeff, wore these pins as elementary school children. The pins signified the mandatory membership in the “Oktjabrjata” or “Little Octobrists” Party (Children of the October 1917 Revolution), and were issued as a way to mark the citizens alliance.

Both of us emigrated from the former Soviet Union with our families and neither of us took part in the “decision making process” or were aware of details about the relocation. One day, we woke up in a new world, and found new political, social, and cultural realities. As children, we just accepted this new life and started living it without much thought to our previous reality. Only much later did we think back to what life had been in the FSU — the pros and cons of both realities. Strangely, as we revisited our memories of that time, we realized that many of the Soviet ideals that our parents hated so much united with warm and nostalgic feelings and memories of our childhood and our parents.

When we left the FSU, we experienced a radical transformation as we took off our Soviet five-corner star pins and became part of a Jewish emigration under the banner of a six-corner star.

This artistic work emphasizes the transition from the communist reality — the five-pointed star — toward a Jewish future that, for many Russians from the FSU, is about nationality rather than religion and a political power struggle between the western and Soviet ideologies.

To view this month’s online art exhibition, please click on the slider on our homepage: www.shma.com

About the Artists:

Alina and Jeff Bliumis emigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union in 1972 (Jeff) and 1993 (Alina). Their artistic initiatives start public dialogues about the politics of community, cultural displacement, migration, and national identity. Jeff (born in Kishinev, Moldova) and Alina (born in Minsk, Belarus) have been collaborating since 2000. Their work has been exhibited internationally at the first, second, and third Moscow Biennales of Contemporary Art (Moscow, Russia), as well as at the Centre d’art Contemporain (Meymac, France), the Bat-Yam Museum (Bat-Yam, Israel), the Jewish Museum (New York, USA) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK) among others. They can be reached via their website, bliumis.com.

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