Odd Statue of Vladimir Putin Riding Tiny Tank Pops Up in NYC Central Park Playground; Children Playing On It, Squirting It With Water

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Statue of Vladimir Putin
Children points water pistols and poke fun at a statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a tank in a playground in Central Park, New York City. Image credit: James Colomina / Instagram.

NEW YORK, NY – On August 1, a decisively odd, bright-red statue of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a comical tiny tank unexpectedly popped up amid the swings, see-saws, and monkeybars in a children’s playground in New York City’s Central Park, causing many onlookers to wonder… why is this here?

Putin has become an international pariah following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February, so to find kids climbing and dumping sand on a life-sized statue of the infamous dictator certainly has people scratching their heads. However, according to French “street artist” James Colomina, the point of his “artistic satire” is to protest the concept of war and encourage children to stand up to injustice.

“This sculpture aims at denouncing the absurdity of war and at highlighting children’s courage when faced with violent, catastrophiques[sic] situations triggered by others,” Colomina posted on his Instagram page.

Over the years, Colomina has garnered a reputation for sculpting politically-charged, vibrantly-red statues – including little girls wearing gas masks, hooded Ku Klux Klan members, and children holding rifles – and installing the artwork in locations such as New York, Barcelona, Switzerland, and Paris.

In an interview, Colomina noted that it was Russia’s war with their neighboring country that moved him to create this piece, simply titled “Vladimir.”

“It was the Russian invasion of Ukraine that inspired me. It was a real trauma. I feared that the dictator would take out all his toys and unfortunately that’s what he did. I hope it will stop soon,” he said. “When you make street art, you address the greatest number. This sculpture of the dictator Vladimir on his toy tank denounces the absurdity of war and the courage of the children who are taken hostage. I am delighted that the sculpture was able to reach so many people.”

Since the Putin statue has been installed in the Central Park playground, children have been photographed playing on it, squirting it with water, and generally not taking it seriously; clearly, the kids are failing to perceive the bright-red despot as menacing, nor do they understand the brutal complexities of war. They’re just having fun with the silly-looking man riding his little tank.

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