On June 17th 2011 the Monument of the Soviet Army (MSA) in Sofia, Bulgaria underwent a peculiar transformation. People stared with dismay at the soldiers of the Red Army that had overnight taken the identities of icons of American consumer culture, such as Superman, Ronald McDonald and the Coca Cola prototype of Santa Claus. This provocation reignited the emotional debate about the future of the monument. Its destiny has been a bone of contention since the fall of the Berlin wall. The Monument of the Soviet Army serves as a bridge connecting past with present, and it poses questions about the future. It signifies the presence of history and politics in everyday life. This thesis is based on research and analysis that examine the relationship between discourses of history, politics and ideology on the one hand, and the art of provocation as a mobilizing factor that subverts meanings and opens up spaces of alternative readings on the other. The monument, prior to its transformation functions to evoke the memory of the ‘totalitarian state’ and the ‘horrors of Communism’ that engaged intellectuals for the last two decades. Such discourse rarely questions the process of transition that formed the structure of the current political-economic system. I view the transformation of the monument as an act of symbolic struggle over meanings of national identity in relation to Bulgaria's paths toward modernity. The thesis questions how we can read this monument and its transformation in relation to those narratives that persist and that form, shape and transform what a Bulgarian identity is.
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Thesis advisor: Gruneau, Rick
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