Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe performing in Helsinki in 1991 Photo Sakari Viika

A Star Called Monroe

Olesya Turkina PhD and Victor Mazin PhD

Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe was an idiosyncratic Russian artist whose rise to stardom came in the wake of perestroika, as he pushed the boundaries of identity, gender and celebrity status through his reinventions of the world’s iconic stars. Researchers Dr. Olesya Turkina and Dr. Victor Mazin[1] survey his short career, as Kiasma mounts his first solo show in Finland

A star

The star of Vladislav Yurievich Mamyshev-Monroe ascended at the beginning of perestroika. In fact, perestroika started not in politics but in art. In 1982, Timur Novikov founded the Novye khudozhniki (New Artists) group; in 1984, Sergey Kuryokhin organised the Popular Mechanics orchestra; and only then, in 1985, the newly elected relatively young General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev began talking about the need for perestroika. Vladislav Mamyshev saw in Gorbachev the swapping of the male archetype for female, militarist policy for pacifist. The artist marked his official portrait of the General Secretary with a bindi – third eye and a sign of truth in Hinduism, which is also a mark of married women. This collage is the first artwork by Mamyshev to have been widely recognised. A portrait of Gorbachev by Vladislav Mamyshev, of course, was bound for success in the mass media, and set the artist up for stardom. It was reprinted by a number of leading Western magazines, in particular, by the German magazine Stern (Star).

[1] About Olesya Turkina and Victor Mazin, see http://www.mg-lj.si/en/events/2036/a-short-history-of-necrorealism/ .

Featured image: Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe performing in Helsinki in 1991. Photo Sakari Viika

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’Russian Stardust’, 9 February – 29 July, 2018, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki