For the New Yorker, Masha Gessen writes about a curious happening afoot on Moscow streets: very tacky artwork has been popping out throughout the Russian capital. Read Gessen in partial below, or in full via the New Yorker.
The center of Moscow changed gradually in the course of the past week. First, a few oddly shaped glass arches popped up along the central avenue, Tverskaya. They were vaguely reminiscent of eggs, or the outlines of eggs, with some decorative curlicues on top. Then pastel-colored eggs, slightly smaller than a person, began appearing, and then they sprouted rabbit ears. Across the street from Moscow city hall, tiny—but still huge—replicas of various churches, including Russian Orthodox and Armenian cathedrals, were plopped down. By Thursday, Moscow bloggers and journalists began asking questions. One checked the city’s official purchasing register and learned that the decorations were part of something called the Moscow Spring Festival, and that they had cost the city roughly three million dollars. By Friday, the entire center of the city was covered with sculptures and installations, most of them far larger than life size. These included a plastic reproduction of the classic Russian painting “Bogatyrs” (featuring three Russian-superhero horsemen), the size of a two-story house; the head of a woman—also roughly the size of a house—in faux topiary, with a twisted hand growing out of the ground next to it; and a cartoon Soviet policeman, which was the height of a small apartment building. It was as if the city had been invaded by a horde of aliens with flamboyantly bad taste. The Moscow intelligentsia recoiled in horror.
*PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEXANDER MIRIDONOV/KOMMERSANT PHOTO/GETTY