Militants Blow Up Art Basel Artist’s Giant Lipstick Sculpture
A militant Russian-backed separatist group has blown up a large-scale public art installation in Donetsk, Ukraine, according to Izolyatsia (Isolation) leaders.
Leonid Baranov, a separatist group leader who helped occupy the gallery, calls the contemporary art on display “perverted,” and says “these people are sick, and they have demonstrated this art to other sick people,” in a video posted ten months ago.
The destroyed artwork, titled Transform!, is a 2012 piece by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou. It was created at the Izolyatsia Center for Cultural Initiatives as part of the exhibition “Where Is the Time?”
Tayou turned a 40-meter-tall factory smokestack into a monument to the women who helped the city rebound after the Second World War by perching a giant pink lipstick sculpture on top of the chimney.
The artist was prominently featured at this year’s edition of Art Basel, both at the fair’s popular Unlimited sector, where he showed a tree with colorful plastic bags for leaves, and at Galeria Continua’s captivating booth.
Meduza reports that according to Russian journalist Ilya Barabanov, the tower was demolished by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on June 2, although footage of the destruction didn’t appear online until this week.
The artwork’s destruction is only the latest indignity suffered by the city’s works of art. On June 9, 2014, the DPR invaded Izolyatsia, seizing the building and looting its art collection.
“Over the past year Izolyatsia team was constantly informed of the consistent destruction of the artworks, which remained on the seized territory, and specifically, the destruction of site-specific installations,” the group wrote in short press release on the destruction of Transform! and the center’s ongoing occupation.
“They say that it was an international art center,” Baranov said. “We had no choice but to occupy it, because the art, which they spread, was not art at all. On the territory of Donetsk Republic this kind of art will be punished.”
Izolyatsia also included this quote from Tayou, presumably from the time of Transform!‘s creation: “Thanks to the courage of the Ukrainian women, Donetsk rose from the ashes after the war and wanted to make some of their own symbols of love and hope…Donetsk is not only a city of mines and metal. It is also an island of dreams, ready to share its hidden treasures.”
Sadly, that beautiful vision is now threatened by the ongoing occupation.
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