Work of 'art' causes diplomatic outrage

Take note – story published 8 years ago

An art installation at the site of the former KGB headquarters in central Riga has prompted the embassy of the Russian Federation to send a note of diplomatic protest to the Latvian Foreign Ministry.

The life-size effigy of Russian President Vladimir Putin rendered in the manner of a quickly-thrown-together Guy Fawkes doll appeared on Friday as part of an exhibition titled "Dissident".

The alleged artwork seemed designed to bait both the Russian diplomatic service and religious sentiment, featuring as it did a passable life-size likeness of Putin nailed to a cross.

The artist responsible for the crucified creation goes only by the impossibly pretentious pseudonym 'SOME1', part of an artists' collective that had deposited various of their works in a space that in previous decades witnessed the very real torture and humiliation of Latvians at the hands of the KGB.

Very probably the controversial artwork said something profound and subtle. Or not.

Regardless, on Saturday, with the offending erection already dismantled, the mystery artist issued a statement claiming somewhat implausibly that the pierced puppet's resemblance to Putin was coincidental.

While not having the desire or nerve to put his or her name to his or her creation, the artist nevertheless claimed to have received threats and to have been assaulted as a result of its display. 

The Russian embassy made the announcement of its displeasure via its Facebook page saying the punctured president caused "indignation and disgust" and was "scandalous."

The Latvian Foreign Ministry told LSM Saturday it could not confirm if the diplomatic note had been received.

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which controls the premises on which the artwork appeared, attempted to distance itself from the controversy saying the exhibition was the work of independent artists.

Sadly, the furore caused by this brief contribution to the modern art world meant the KGB building was not able to participate in Saturday's 'Museum Night' events in which museums across the country throw their doors open to the public.

Nevertheless, despite the possible inconvenience of possibly being threatened or assaulted, 'SOME1' has probably achieved the desired result of causing as much fuss as possible and making a name for themselves as an enfant terrible of the art world - albeit a fake name.

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