This paper investigates conceptions of the Kyivan Rus’ in Soviet and independent Ukrainian historiographies, as materially retransmitted by monumental art in the built environment. Depictions of figures and artefacts from Kyiv’s 9th-13th centuries appeared in the monumental art of the city during the 1970s and 1980s. These works were created in a totalitarian atmosphere, but the disappearance of the communist superstructure changed the ideological and emotional experiences associated with Soviet monumental art. Narratives of history were entirely under the influence of state and party authorities during Soviet domination, but have undergone processes of decentralisation and internationalisation following Ukrainian independence. What meanings did monumental images of Rus’ represent during the Soviet period, and what do they mean in independent Ukraine? I examine a six-panel mosaic mural series designed by Ivan Lytovchenko, Volodymyr Priadka, Valerii Lamakh, and Ernest Kotkov and implemented from 1967 to 1980 on the endwalls of residential buildings alongside Kyiv’s western traffic artery. This series is significant because it was created by famous artists, positioned prominently within the urban topography, and intended to enhance Kyiv’s prestige coinciding with international celebrations. The Victory Avenue mosaics depict a historiography and origin story of Soviet Ukraine, connecting the medieval past to the glorious future-present of communism. The compositions borrow visual cues from medieval Byzantine hieratic arts and Slavic folklore. Amidst the 2010s decommunisation campaign, the mosaics were preserved as artistically valuable, exempted from removal as communist propaganda. Evolving perceptions of these mosaics over time allow for comparison of two narratives of the medieval past. The Soviet “Ancient Rus’” was invoked to claim a common ethnocivilisational origin of the East Slavs and justify imperial rule of the periphery from Moscow. The Ukrainian “Kyivan Rus’” provides a romantic history of the Ukrainian nation, its independence having been regained from colonial rule.

The Kyivan Rus’ as Origin Story in Soviet and National Historiographies: The Changing Meanings of Medieval Images in the Monumental Mosaic Art of Ukraine (1960s to 2010s)

Emma Louise Leahy
;
Emma Louise Leahy;Emma Louise Leahy
2022

Abstract

This paper investigates conceptions of the Kyivan Rus’ in Soviet and independent Ukrainian historiographies, as materially retransmitted by monumental art in the built environment. Depictions of figures and artefacts from Kyiv’s 9th-13th centuries appeared in the monumental art of the city during the 1970s and 1980s. These works were created in a totalitarian atmosphere, but the disappearance of the communist superstructure changed the ideological and emotional experiences associated with Soviet monumental art. Narratives of history were entirely under the influence of state and party authorities during Soviet domination, but have undergone processes of decentralisation and internationalisation following Ukrainian independence. What meanings did monumental images of Rus’ represent during the Soviet period, and what do they mean in independent Ukraine? I examine a six-panel mosaic mural series designed by Ivan Lytovchenko, Volodymyr Priadka, Valerii Lamakh, and Ernest Kotkov and implemented from 1967 to 1980 on the endwalls of residential buildings alongside Kyiv’s western traffic artery. This series is significant because it was created by famous artists, positioned prominently within the urban topography, and intended to enhance Kyiv’s prestige coinciding with international celebrations. The Victory Avenue mosaics depict a historiography and origin story of Soviet Ukraine, connecting the medieval past to the glorious future-present of communism. The compositions borrow visual cues from medieval Byzantine hieratic arts and Slavic folklore. Amidst the 2010s decommunisation campaign, the mosaics were preserved as artistically valuable, exempted from removal as communist propaganda. Evolving perceptions of these mosaics over time allow for comparison of two narratives of the medieval past. The Soviet “Ancient Rus’” was invoked to claim a common ethnocivilisational origin of the East Slavs and justify imperial rule of the periphery from Moscow. The Ukrainian “Kyivan Rus’” provides a romantic history of the Ukrainian nation, its independence having been regained from colonial rule.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1660817
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