The town of Chelyabinsk, home to everyone’s favourite window-smashing, headline-grabbing flaming space-rock, is planning to build a monument to the meteorite that exploded over the Urals last week. This curious decision will come as no surprise to Russians and Russia-watchers: the whole country is overflowing with outlandish monuments to unlikely subjects. These ten are just the tip of the sculpted iceberg…
1. Enema at the Gates
In 2008 a health spa in Zheleznovodsk in southern Russia unveiled a monument to one of their most popular treatments – the enema. The 1.5m statue is inspired, apparently, by Botticelli’s Venus and Mars.
2. Bridge Over the River Why?
Novosibirsk may owe its existence to the railway bridge built over the river Ob in the late 19th century, but is a commemorative section of iron bridge, handily placed next to a nearly identical actual bridge, really necessary?
3. Jobs for Life
St Petersburg made Russia’s iPhone obsession global news when the National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics erected an iMonument to Steve Jobs after his death last year.
4. Human Traffic
Siberian traffic light enthusiasts (there must be some, right?) rejoiced when, in 2006, a monument commemorating 70 years of traffic police was installed at the site of Novosibirsk’s first traffic lights. The sculptor, Viktor Bulankin, said the statue “symbolises the passing of the baton from humanity to the contemporary system”. Indeed.
5. Heart of a Doggie
Can a penchant for pooches and an eye for sculpture go together? No is the emphatic answer of this canine catastrophe (2007) in Krasnodar, a city whose love of dogs was immortalised in verse by Vladimir Mayakovsky.
6. Licence to Dill
Lukhovtsy, near Moscow, is a pickle paradise, churning out tonnes of preserves a year. In 2007, the townspeople expressed their gratitude to the hard-workin’ gherkin with this monstrosity.
7. From Herring to Eternity
This blushing bride from Mamonovo, near Kaliningrad knows where she wants her wedding snaps: in front of the preserved herring monument, erected in 2008 to commemorate the local canning factory.
8. Willy Wonky’s Chocolate Factory
Childhood obesity is a thing of the past in Pokrov in central Russia thanks to this nightmare-inducing “chocolate fairy” that took up residence in town in 2009, in celebration of 15 years of Kraft Foods in Russia.
9. The Mosquito Boast
In the hotly-contested competition for the world’s largest mosquito monument, the town of Noyabrsk, up in the oil fields of western Siberia, is streets ahead of rival Berdyansk in Ukraine. Take that Berdyansk!
10. Peter Panned
The granddaddy of them all, the colossus of kitsch that is Zurab Tsereteli’s hideous Peter the Great. After the carbuncle (which began life as Gulliver, then became Christopher Columbus) was refused by New York, among others, Peter and his miniature ship sailed up the Moscow river, returning to a city he had hated and stripped of its status as capital.