Some artworks are clever; others are just plain shit. The newest effort by Russian artist Ivan Volkov is sort of both.
Last week, the Moscow-based artist traveled to St. Petersburg where he laid a 15-foot-long snow sculpture shaped like a pile of poop at the Field of Mars, a historic square that once served as a burial for Bolsheviks who died in Russia’s 1917 revolution and ensuing civil war.
“It’s so beautiful that I pooped myself,” the artist said of the square in a since-deleted Facebook post with a picture of his creation.
Unfortunately for Volkov, local authorities didn’t find his toilet humor amusing—and now he’s in deep.
Citing article 244 of Russia’s criminal code, which bars the “desecration of bodies of the dead and their burial places,” police have filed a criminal case against the artist.
“Intentionally, cynically, immorally, out of hooligan motives, and disregarding the generally accepted rules and norms of behavior established in society, he placed an art object made of snow in the form of giant feces in a yellow puddle,” the report reads, according to a local news outlet.
Volkov was arrested while trying to board a train back to Moscow. He now faces up to five years in prison for the stunt, should authorities determine that his motives were political. The minimum punishment is a fine of 40,000 rubles (roughly $520).
Some Russian media reports characterized the artwork as a statement on the lack of municipal street maintenance in St. Petersburg. Volkov, for his part, told a Russian news outlet that he “did not put any particular meaning” into the work.
A graduate of Moscow’s Institute of Contemporary Art and the Stroganoff Academy of Design and Applied Arts, Volkov has a habit of erecting macabre snow sculptures in public places and sharing images of them across his social media accounts. He explained that brown and yellow food coloring was used to make his latest ephemeral work.
The artist was released from detention shortly after his arrest, and his sculpture has since been removed from the Field of Mars.
The turd, you could say, has been flushed.