Mongolian Monuments and Murals

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Lenin Statue in Ulaan Baatar

Lenin Statue in Ulaan Baatar

It might seem like a dull and obvious choice to photograph monuments and murals of a communist government as a way of showing how a socialist regime has left its mark on a society. Like the Museum of the Revolution in Vietnam, the monuments and murals built throughout Mongolia represent a deliberate and controlled narrative – a narrative which is both one sided and one dimensional. What is impressive about these monuments is not that they were built in the first place, that they once existed, but rather that they still exist. That is to say, in contrast to many of the Soviet satellites of Eastern Europe which, upon breaking from Russia turned to monuments of Lenin and Marx as the objects of their collective rage, Mongolia’s transition to a (nominally) democratic capitalism left theirs untouched. Whether this speaks to a less antipathetic relationship to their past, or simply a more ambivalent one, is unclear – depending on if one is in the recently booming capital or a withering, provincial town it seems either may be the case. Whichever it may be, these crumbling monuments stand as a testament to the glories and aspirations of a society that still needs the dreams they represent.

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