Humor in Art #2: Lenin and DiCaprio Conspire
The Propeller Group, a collective with dual headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Los Angeles, describes itself as follows: “The Propeller Group is like that Baudelaire quote, 'I will strike you without anger and without hate, like a butcher.'" This should give you some idea of the dark humor at work here.
The group has commissioned an ongoing series of hand-embroidered interventions into old official portraits of Lenin that hung in Soviet communist party headquarters. The embroidery gives Lenin the coifs and facial hair of DiCaprio's most famous film roles. This double-take is inspired by a conspiracy theory that Leonardo DiCaprio is actually a lost descendent of Lenin (based on eerie similarity of facial features? I don't know, this is one connection that I would never have made on my own). The result is undoubtedly hilarious. Most unnerving is the way the portraits tap into that un-pin-down-able connection that sparks immediate recognition for the viewer. That unconscious spark of recognition of both the Communist and the Hollywood icon, the Propeller Group posits, is the same connection that enables cults of personality to form.
The Propeller Group half jokes, "This last painting in the series will be entitled: Lenin as Lenin in Lenin." I can't wait.