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Memory recycled

Memory recycled

St. Petersburg sculptor Pavel Ignatiev has created a monument from discarded scraps of metal.


Using recycled materials for historical memorials is not a common practice in Russia. Recently, an unusual monument appeared in Kronstadt, a suburb of St. Petersburg and a military port located on a windswept island in the Gulf of Finland. The artwork commemorates the centenary of the so-called Kronstadt Rebellion, a tragic episode of the Russian Civil War of 1918–1922. Back in 1921, seamen of the Baltic Fleet and the city’s residents rose in revolt against the Bolsheviks’ dictatorship. The rebellion was brutally suppressed: about 1,000 insurgents were killed in the battle and twice more executed afterwards. In late March 1921, 8,000 seamen and civilians managed to escape to nearby Finland, walking over the ice of the frozen gulf.

St. Petersburg sculptor Pavel Ignatiev (b. 1973) has situated his work at Fort Reef, a fortification on the very spot where the fugitives set out on their march to safety. He created the monument from rusty scraps of metal, which he found lying discarded in the fort. The gap at the centre of the sculpture points in the exact direction of the rebels’ path, as the sculptor explains. And the twisted, deformed metal sheets seem to hint at the cruel twists and turns of Russian history: those same Baltic seamen had been fighting the Tsarist regime for years alongside Bolsheviks prior to revolting and were even praised by Leon Trotsky as the “pride and beauty of Revolution”.

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