The collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, along with it, the immense cloud of silence that was enforced on its citizens over 73 years, was a confusing and liberating event that propelled many people to destroy everything that reminded them of the iron presence and its vast mythology of heroes and saints. Images of toppling sickles and hammers – forged in bronze, gold and iron –, and large statues of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Josef Stalin or Feliks Dzerzinski – obscure founder and factotum of the feared KGB – turned the world around. As part of improvised demolition groups, men and women – in their enthusiastic or spiteful spontaneity – perhaps they did not realize that together with the hated past they were destroying an art that, when the moment arrived, would return their history and identity to them.
A short time after the fall of the stone idols, and the disproportionate hopes that came along with their dismantling, in Moscow, Muzeon Park or the Park of Sculptures was opened, an open air garden – dependent of the Tretiakov Art Gallery and the Central House of Artists – where the statues that escaped the popular vengeance against socialist realism are kept. Among contemporary pieces and a special set of sculptures for children, old monuments are displayed there, not as objects of political enlightenment, but as they really are: mute witnesses of a bitter period, populated with loneliness and fear, but also of fraternal hope and new projects, now dead today. In honor of the strident silence that these statues show and denounce, the guardians were displayed among them and made their penultimate European stop in May and June of 2011.