Lenin’s Head Is Gone

In 2010, Vladimir Lenin landed in Richmond. Well, his 8,800 pound head did and, as the title noted, Miss Mao was trying to poise herself atop it. The piece quickly became a source of loud debate. It was wonderful, it was disrespectful, it was curious, it was inflammatory.

This politically provocative stainless steel sculpture was created by the Beijing-based Gao Brothers and installed by the Vancouver Biennale. As the Biennale description noted: ‘Both brothers were born in Jinan, Shandong Province, to a family tragically affected by the Cultural Revolution. Their father was executed in 1968 due to his “intellectual & bourgeois” tendencies.’

Miss Mao trying to poise herself at the top of Lenin’s Head took two years to craft. Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang started with a miniature clay model of Lenin’s head, then moved to the final fibreglass model. Dangling off studio scaffolding, the Gao brothers molded and buffed the fibreglass before applying the stainless steel in sections. They created the feminized Mao separately before attaching the child-sized figure to Lenin’s head.

In the summer of 2011, the Gao Brother’s work was disassembled and moved to its next location. Most recently, Miss Mao trying to poise herself at the top of Lenin’s Head was showing at the Ace Museum in Los Angeles. As their press release noted: ‘The sculpture is now banned for re-entry into China due to its highly controversial nature.’

Writing & Photos by Elizabeth Newton

the 2




Queen Elizabeth Theatre Fountain



Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton