UK artist Alex Rinsler has unveiled a 12 ton sculpture of a squirrel in the heart of Kazakhstan’s largest city.

Created for the Art Energy festival in Almaty, the Manchester-based artist said that the work symbolised life in the country’s cultural capital.

“Squirrels are our urban neighbors,” says Rinsler. “Like us, they adapted to life in the city, and, like us, they need the resources to survive and thrive.”

 

 

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The 12-metre installation was created from straw, which will weather, change and transform throughout the sculpture’s nine month lifespan. It will appear alongside 15 other new art installations throughout the streets of Almaty.

“I hope that people will be able to identify themselves with this giant squirrel, with its beauty and strength, as well as with its sense of depression and uncertainty that unite us in these unpredictable times,” Rinsler said.

 

 

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The sculpture’s appearance has already sparked controversy on Kazakh social media, with some criticising the cost of the giant exhibit. Maira Izmailova, head of the creative agency behind the installation, Funk, told concerned citizens that the project cost 23 million Kazakh tenge ($67,000) — despite online rumour that the installation was far more expensive.

“The squirrel has not cost 1 billion tenge, as some people are claiming on social media,” says Izmailova. “This is a modern project between the state and our agency, Funk. The squirrel itself cost 15 million tenge, while the whole project only reached 23 million tenge.”

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