An archaeological evaluation undertaken in 2004 in Baillet-en-France, north of Paris,
unearthed remains of the sculptured frieze which adorned the Soviet pavilion at the
1937 International Exhibition. This discovery led us to track the astonishing trajectory
of this emblematic monument, example of socialist realism and symbol of the USSR.
Upon the dismantlement of the 1937 exhibition, the Soviet monument’s propylaeum, composed
by artist Josef Chaikov of sculpted reliefs and statues representing the peoples of
the USSR, was given to the metallurgist CGT worker’s union, who brought it to its
newly opened leisure park at Baillet-en-France. With the abrupt political changes
that followed, the monument was smashed to pieces in 1941, rediscovered after the
liberation in 1944, and then buried in the ice ditch where it laid forgotten until
2004. The study of these unexpected remains with their iconic and iconoclastic destinies
enables us to better understand the different aspects of their creation (origins,
techniques, iconography) – at the same time, a new career awaits these Stalinian relicts,
as a museum exhibit but also as a model, monumentally reconstructed in Moscow in 2010.