Power & Public Space 8: Markus LäHteenmäki – Lev Rudnev’s Monument to the Victims of the Revolution

Matthew Blunderfield and Markus Lähteenmäki

Power & Public Space is a podcast from Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation hosted by Matthew Blunderfield. You can find the full podcast series here. Or listen now:

Markus Lähteenmäki’s research explores, in part, how architecture became instrumental in the societal and cultural transformations that took place in revolutionary Russia. 

It’s worth noting this episode was recorded in early 2022, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine; in fact the discussion doesn’t focus on contemporary Russian politics and culture, but instead reflects on the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the ways in which Russian people altered and re-framed the imperialist monuments and public spaces around them as power was ceded from the monarchy and aristocracy and taken up by the Bolshevik party. Parallels are also drawn to contemporary debates on how to contend with retrograde monuments still standing in public spaces.  

Lähteenmäki also unpacks the motivations behind Lev Rudnev’s monument to the Victims of the Revolution, erected in the field of Mars in St Petersburg, which eschewed the traditional gathering place and conduit for public movements across the field through the streets, recasting the city itself as a monument to collective life.

An image showing the monument with a temporary edifice at the celebrations of the first anniversary of the October revolution in 1918. The monument was conceived of as a memorial to collective struggle and a vector of social movement.