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Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil

The first edition of Konschthal Esch's Project Room showcases an artwork that survived the flood. The Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil storage facility, located in Echternach, approximately 200 metres from the river Sûre, was completely destroyed by the floods in July 2021 that occurred during the night of 14 and 15 July 2021 and the following morning. Most of their works suffered devastating damage and some were even ruined. In an act of spontaneity, we were able to recover the works and initially store them at the Konschthal to be examined, dried and cleaned. This was how the Mechanics of the absent revolution piece was able to be saved, restored and finally displayed at the exhibition in Project Room 1.

What's more, the presentation of this piece is also part of our programme strategy. Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil inaugurated the Schaufenster 1 pre-launch series at Konschthal in October 2020. The piece is a clear reference to the statues of Lenin which were once ubiquitous in public places among the Warsaw Pact countries. It will also be displayed in a Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil exhibition at the Meno Parkas gallery in Kaunas, Lithuania in 2022 (the year that Kaunas will be European Capital of Culture along with Esch-sur-Alzette). There, the subject of Soviet cultural heritage is still relevant today.

Additional Info

  • Type Current exhibition
  • Artist(s) Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil · Niels Ackermann & Sébastien Gobert
  • Location Floor 00
  • Curator(s) Christian Mosar

Niels Ackermann and Sébastian Gobert

Before the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine had 5500 monuments dedicated to the communist leader Lenin. Triggered by the Maidan revolution during the winter of 2013-2014, a powerful wave swept away the vestiges of symbolism and Soviet aesthetics which had previously been seen all around public spaces. Against the backdrop of the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass, “Leninopad” (Leninfall) led to the removal/destruction of more than 1500 statues between February 2014 and December 2015. The movement was enshrined in an official “decommunisation” policy in May 2015. Today, there is only one statue remaining of the Bolshevik leader in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government: Chernobyl. Touched by the fall of Lenin’statue from Bessarabska Square in Kiev, photographer Niels Ackermann and journalist Sébastian Gobert crossed the country in 2015 in search of their remains. They found close to a hundred statues in two years. The photographic inventory created by the duo, accompanied by personal testimonies by Ukrainians, documents the history of the symbolic dismantling, the stigma of a dual “decommunisation” and the complexity of the situation in Ukraine. The photographs, which were displayed for the first time at Rencontres d’Arles in 2017, have also featured in exhibitions in several countries. They appeared in the publication Looking for Lenin published by Noir sur Blanc.

Sometimes there is a strange familiarity between works of art whose backgrounds and original meaning seem so different from each other. Following in the footsteps of the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne by art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929), who identified new relationships between a series of images by comparing works published from different eras and origins in order to give them new meaning, comparing Niels Ackermann’s photographic series, in collaboration with Sebastien Gobert, with Martine Feipel & Jean Bechameil’s sculpture explores a new relationship between two artistic concepts. The basis for comparison is the Soviet canon of the sculptural representation of Vladimir Ilitch Oulianov, i.e. Lenin. Although their artistic intentions appear to be fundamentally different at first, the juxtaposition of these two projects creates a new, independent, cross-genre and interdisciplinary vision of art.