Object Number One

Collaboration with GRAD + Factum Arte

A collaboration between cultural institution GRAD and Factum Arte to produce Object Number 1, a radical deconstruction of the myth of Vladimir Lenin. Encased in a Suprematist cube, as first proposed by iconic Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, the pavilion sought to unravel the relationship between art, power and mythmaking while exploring the transformation of the physical body into an iconic relic.

The exhibition contains a 21st century reconstruction of Melnikov’s design for a sarcophagus to house Lenin’s preserved body. This object, made using the latest fabrication techniques combined with the highest level of finish, will focus an inquiry into ideas of death and decay. From the outside Malevich is a key point of reference – as a prophet who predicted the tragic consequences of the revolution in his Black Square. A politician who fully embraced the revolution, he was a victim of his own political ambitions who wanted Suprematism to become a new religion. His iconic work of art – Black Square on a White Ground, 1915, is a complex statement. Both an iconoclastic void and an iconophilic breeding-ground. Through the 3D scan of the surface merged with colour data of the complex image, three vast 8 x 8 metre panels will rematerialise the complex surface of the painting.

The word ‘sarcophagus’ comes from a different tradition – and reflects a more nihilistic attitude to death – the container for the body is literally a ‘flesh eater’ that consumes the physical body. Lenin’s decay may have been arrested but there is now only 23% of his original body remaining. A special installation will be made using a process of depth-mapping and CNC milling into blocks of tonally gradated plaster. This will form a new image of Lenin – from one point of view it will be a totally photographic image – from another it will implode into a strange landscape suggesting death and decay.

The architectural proposal is a ghost of the existing mausoleum, a ‘percentage’, a simplified remnant that, like the body, offers a reduced and idealized version of the original. The existing mausoleum is the basis for the plan, and the plan generates the form. The plan is a square, containing a circle, with two subsidiary smaller structures. The square is extruded into a cube. The circle becomes the display space for the tomb and a tonal depth-map, reverse perspective 3D portrait of Lenin.