Mykhailo Kolodko: Sculpting Cultural Codes, Provoking, Inspiring

When one walks down the streets of Budapest, one can’t help noticing, next to magnificent architecture and pompous monuments, smaller public art objects with some profound meaning behind them. If you have ever been to the Hungarian capital, you probably know the Shoes on the Danube Bank commemorating the victims of Nyilasok, local allies of Hitler during World War II. Or consider the pebbles on Margaret Island honoring Hungary’s COVID-19 victims — a new memorial opened in 2021.

Well, perhaps those two examples aren’t really that small. We could scale down a bit. On Dob Street, in the Jewish quarter, one can see a sticker art by pseudonymous 0036mark entitled AntallTales. It depicts a man in a suit accompanied by sad-looking Scrooge McDuck and his three grandnephews. The man is József Antall who was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Hungary. He died of cancer while in office on December 12, 1993. That Sunday evening Hungarian TV was airing an episode of Disney’s DuckTales, which was interrupted to break the news of Antall’s death.

AntallTales by 0036mark

Or let’s say you’re walking down Falk Street, perhaps with an intention to turn left and proceed to the aforementioned Margaret Island, and suddenly you encounter… a bronze statue of Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo with his dog. No, the street was not named after him. It was named after Miksa Falk, a 19th century Hungarian politician. At some point it was speculated there may be a connection between the two, but it was never proven, although Peter Falk did have some ancestors in Hungary.

But wait… behind Columbo, there’s a small figurine of a dead squirrel with a gun in its hand, so it looks like the lieutenant is investigating the death. (Actually, Columbo’s statue, created by Géza Dezső Fekete, appeared there earlier, in 2014, while the squirrel joined him in 2017.) And there’s even more to it. The squirrel figurine, known also as Ars longa, vita brevis, alludes to Bidibidobidiboo, a 1996 installation by Maurizio Cattelan consisting of a taxidermied squirrel with a gun at its feet.

Ars longa, vita brevis

On the other bank of the Danube, there’s a miniature tank facing the Parliament building, with its gun turned down (there was once a writing on its side saying Ruskik haza! which means Russians go home!). It’s a reference to the 1956 revolution against the Soviets, but one can speculate about additional layers of meaning, especially considering Freudian connotations of the flaccid… I mean, lowered gun.

The squirrel and the tank are the works of Mykhailo (or Mihály in Hungarian) Kolodko, a Ukraine-born “guerrilla sculptor” who is mostly known for his mini-statues and, in his own words, intends to use sculpture the way Banksy uses painting.


Some background information is due here since at the time of writing there’s no decent summary of Mykhailo’s works anywhere online. He was born in 1978 in Uzhhorod (also historically known as Ungvár), a city at the border between Ukraine and Slovakia (back then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and Czechoslovakia) and the center of Transcarpathia (Zakarpattia in Ukrainian), a multicultural region with strong historical ties to Hungary.

In 2002 Kolodko graduated from Lviv National Academy of Arts where he studied sculpture. In December 2010 his first mini-statue, Mykolaychyk, or Santa’s Little Helper, appeared in Uzhhorod. It was local tourism expert Fedir Sándor who prompted him to create mini-statues. The original idea was that it’s easier and cheaper to create tiny statues than large ones, but soon it turned into something deeper, and the statues became the signature of both their author and the places where they are located.

Santa’s Little Helper — Kolodko’s first mini-statue

The second mini-statue appeared in Uzhhorod in 2011. It was Svobodka, or Small Statue of Liberty that symbolically lights the way home for those people from Transcarpathia who had left for America in search of better life. The third figurine, the Good Soldier Švejk, a popular character of Jaroslav Hašek, was installed in 2012. Then more and more of them appeared each year.

Since 2016 Kolodko lives in Budapest, and so the Hungarian capital became home to most of his newer statues. His first mini-statue actually appeared in Budapest a little bit earlier, in October 2015. This was a figurine of Harry Houdini, but it was a commissioned work which was installed inside the K11 Art and Culture Center building. Thus, the first Kolodko’s “guerrilla”, public mini-statue in Budapest was that of Főkukac, the Boss Worm, a character from A nagy ho-ho-horgász (The Great Fi-Fi-Fisherman), a Hungarian cartoon, which was installed in 2016. Both Harry Houdini and Főkukac are identical to the statues installed in Uzhhorod.

Főkukac in Budapest

As of December 2021, there are more than 120 Mykhailo Kolodko’s mini-statues in 10 countries, and their number keeps growing. Of them, 69 can be found in Ukraine. Kolodko created 38 mini-statues for his hometown. We will mention all of them below, but it should be noted here that two statues, those of Főkukac and Béla Bartók, were recreated by a fellow sculptor, Roman Murnyk, after they were stolen and damaged respectively.

In Mukachevo (known as Munkács in Hungarian), the second largest town in Transcarpathia, there are three miniature works of Kolodko: a Celtic blacksmith, the Wedding of Imre Thököly and Ilona Zrínyi, and Francis II Rákóczi. You may also find photos of the mini-statue of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, a modern Ukrainian musician and politician who was born in Mukachevo. However, it seems to have been a preliminary model and its final version was never installed.

Imre Thököly and Ilona Zrínyi in Mukachevo

In Schönborn Park, located in Voievodyno Resort, next to the village of Turya Pasika, there are four mini-statues of Celts: a blacksmith (the same as in Mukachevo), a druid, a Celt with a barrel of calvados, and a Celt in a wooden bathtub.

Nine miniatures can be found on the Synevyr Pass in the Carpathian Mountains. Three of them are the copies of those from Uzhhorod: the Good Soldier Švejk, Manneken Pis, and Nikola Šuhaj (a historical character who appears in a novel by Ivan Olbracht). Another three are the copies of the Celts from Schönborn Park (and one also from Mukachevo): a druid, a blacksmith, and a Celt with a barrel of calvados. The remaining three statues are unique: the Arkan Dance, a baker with a baguette, and a baker with a croissant.

Two mini-statues can be found at the Yavirnyk tourist shelter in the mountains, next to the town of Velykyi Bereznyi. They depict a tourist and Yanko Derevlyanyi, an artist, the shelter’s host and local living legend.

One of 10 salt miners (in Berehovo)

Five identical mini-statues depicting a salt miner were created as part of the Salt Road project in 2020: in Khust (Huszt), Berehovo (Beregszász), Vynohradiv (Nagyszőlős), Korolevo (Királyháza), and Vyshkovo (Visk). In Vynohradiv, there’s also a copy of miniature Béla Bartók from Uzhhorod (the composer spent several years in the town).

Finally, there’s also Kermit the Frog in Perechyn (Perecseny) identical to the one that can be found in Budapest, a copy of the Wedding of Imre Thököly and Ilona Zrínyi next to the castle in Chynadiiovo (Szentmiklós), a figurine of Adalbert Erdélyi in the village of Zahattia (Hátmeg) where the artist was born, and a miniature Holocaust memorial in the village of Bilky (Bilke).

It should be noted that after Mykhailo Kolodko moved to Budapest, other sculptors, most notably Roman Murnyk, have already created around 20 mini-statues in Transcarpathia. Some of them really look like Kolodko’s work, so an unprepared tourist won’t be able to tell the difference. We can thus say that Kolodko generated a tradition and already has his followers.

Franz Liszt in Chernivtsi

And three more Kolodko’s mini-statues can be found in Ukrainian cities outside of Transcarpathia: another copy of Švejk in Odesa, Franz Liszt in Chernivtsi (the same as in Uzhhorod and Budapest, but sitting atop a piano), and Ivan Kotliarevsky’s Aeneas in Poltava.

So, we’re leaving Ukraine for now, but we’ll be back. In Hungary, 41 Kolodko’s mini-statues were installed, 27 of them in Budapest. However, three miniatures have been lost. Ushanka is gone for good (its story will be told below), and the fate of Lisa Simpson and Gyula Bodrogi in the costume of Süsü the Dragon is not entirely clear. Again, other Budapest statues will be mentioned in our subsequent discussion.

In Vác, a town north of Budapest, three statuettes exist so far: the Empress Maria Theresia next to the Triumphal Arch built for her visit; a dog and a hen who are the characters of Anyám tyúkja (My Mother’s Hen), a poem by Sándor Petőfi written in the town in 1848; and Csúzli, a cartoon character created by Ferenc Sajdik who is also the author of Főkukac.

In Veszprém, there are also three mini-statues: Ernő the Guard, Ödön the Street Musician, and LeoNora, a girl with a lion (the names were chosen by online vote). In Tihany, not that far from Veszprém, on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, there’s a statuette of Artúr Gombóc, a bird from another cartoon by Ferenc Sajdik. And in the village of Geszteréd in the east of the country there’s a mini-statue celebrating the triple csárdás dance and a miniature Francis II Rákóczi (the same as in Mukachevo).

Finally, five salt miner figurines identical to those in Transcarpathia were installed as a continuation of the Salt Road project in Nagykálló, Csenger, Nyírbátor, Tiszabecs, and Vásárosnamény.

Švejk in Uzhhorod

Then, six identical Švejks in addition to the three in Ukraine can be found in Czechia (Lipnice nad Sázavou, Kralupy nad Vltavou, and Olomouc), Slovakia (Humenné), and Poland (Przemyśl and Kielce). Three Kolodko’s statuettes were installed in Germany, all of them in Bavaria: Ein Hoch auf das Oktoberfest! on Theresienwiese in Munich, Francis II Rákóczi in Landshut (different from the ones in Mukachevo and Geszteréd; he’s sitting here), and Albrecht Dürer in Nuremberg.

Two Kolodko’s mini-statues exist in Croatia: in Rijeka, there’s a knife sticking out of a drawing of a sailor, which refers to a scene in the Captain Dirty Fred book series by Jenő Rejtő; and at Pula Arena, there’s a miniature drunk Roman soldier.

Finally, another copy of Franz Liszt was installed in Seoul, South Korea; a miniature Albert Einstein can be found in Princeton, New Jersey, United States; and a figurine of Alfred Nobel exists in Stockholm, Sweden.

Thus, out of 120 mini-statues, there are only about 90 originals, while others are the copies of those previously installed elsewhere. There are 10 salt miners, 9 Švejks, 4 Liszts, 3 Celtic blacksmiths, and several other statuettes exist in 2 versions.

A Celt in Mukachevo

Of course, many of those mini-statues were commissioned and thus aren’t truly “guerrilla” art. Also, Kolodko designed some statues that were never permanently installed in a public place like the statuette of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk mentioned above, the miniature Franz Joseph I that was intended for Uzhhorod, or Bucephalus and several others that were presented at an exhibition in Budapest.

But the work of Mykhailo Kolodko is not limited to his mini-statues. He also creates larger statues, memorials and even works as an architectural designer. His most famous life-size statue is that of Ignác Roskovics, a Hungarian painter, in Budapest, which is actually a copy of the one previously installed in Uzhhorod.

Ignác Roskovics in Budapest

In his hometown Kolodko also created the statues of a lamplighter and of St. John of Nepomuk, a Holocaust memorial, a Hungarian Revolution of 1956 memorial, and a model of the Holy Cross Cathedral (which may also be seen as a mini-statue of a sort). Additionally, he designed the Andy Warhol statue (different from Warhol’s mini-statue in Uzhhorod) that consists of welded metal rods and was realized by Vasyl Kryvanych. As an architectural designer, he was responsible for Mustard Seed Passage, the reconstruction of an early 20th century street in Uzhhorod.

Kolodko’s another architectural design work was the reconstruction of Schönborn Park, originally of the late 19th century. Here, he recreated some old statues as well as sculpted the statues of the Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elisabeth (Sisi) and the bust of Lothar Franz von Schönborn, in addition to the four mini-statues mentioned above.

A different statue of Franz Joseph I was installed in the village of Nyzhnie Solotvyno (Alsószlatina). In Berehovo, there’s a statue of Sári Fedák, a Hungarian opera singer born in the town. In Vynohradiv, there’s a statue of a winemaker, a Holocaust memorial, and a fountain with a statue of a girl stomping grapes with her feet. A copy of the latter was installed in the city of Eger in Hungary.

Sári Fedák in Berehovo

Two almost identical statues of a man pouring mineral water exist in Svalyava (Szolyva) and Solochyn (Királyfiszállás). In the village of Huklyvyi (Zúgó) there’s a monument to bilberry, and in Rakhiv (Rahó) there’s a memorial to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Another memorial to the revolution exists in Geszteréd in Hungary — it is done as a relief with a tank with Ruskik haza! on its side, although it looks much different from the mini-statue in Budapest mentioned in the beginning of this article. In the same village of Geszteréd there are also the Sower plaque that refers to a Biblical parable, a cross commemorating the Treaty of Trianon, a crucifix for a local Greek Catholic church, commemorative plaques for Márton Finta, a local landlord, and János Gajdos, a painter, a Holocaust memorial, and a bust of Lajos Kossuth.

Some other Kolodko’s memorials in Hungary are the Raoul Wallenberg relief in Kisvárda, the World War I memorial in Csomád, and the Ukrainian Holodomor memorial in Szeged.

Back in Ukraine, Kolodko also created a statue of Ignacy Kamiński, a 19th century mayor of the city of Ivano-Frankivsk (Stanisławów back then), and several statues of bears — symbols of Transcarpathia — in Uzhhorod as well as one in Rakhiv. Finally, he designed a model of the statue of St. Martin for Mukachevo, but in the end another sculptor’s project was realized instead.

Cultural Codes

Let us now look into the meaning of all those works. Any work of art acts as a sort of a bridge of ideas. An artist gives form to his or her ideas so that they could be perceived by others. These others then come up with their own ideas that, in fact, are never identical to the artist’s original ideas. Thus, thanks to art ideas not only carry over, but also evolve, transmute, seethe, reproduce — in other words, live.

Franz Liszt in Uzhhorod

We will dedicate the final section to the reaction of the public, but for now we will focus on the original ideas that Mykhailo Kolodko transmits in his statues. It’s not hard to notice a common motive: most of the statues allude to cultural diversity of a land where they were installed.

Actually, when we talk about, for example, German, Hungarian, French, or Italian culture, we’re dealing with an abstract concept. In reality, a “culture” that we see on any specific piece of land is always defined by many different “cultures” that precede it or exist simultaneously with it. We may say that any country or region has multiple cultural layers, or rather countless cultural codes that can be grouped into various cultural layers. These codes (or memes, as we may also call them) can be behavioral, mental, linguistic, literary, artistic, musical, gastronomic, etc. In fact, they can be any object, act, idea, fact, or virtually anything related to human activity. Some of these codes may be unique to a certain culture, but most of them are shared by multiple cultures, and any culture — which, once again, is an abstract concept — emerges out of a specific combination of such codes.

Béla Bartók in Uzhhorod

When a person lives in a region, he or she inevitably absorbs its cultural codes in addition to those of his or her ancestry and those inculcated by education, if they are different. In case of Mykhailo Kolodko we can say that his works reflect the cultural codes of the region where he was born and spent most of his life and the one where he lives now, although Transcarpathia and Hungary have a lot in common culturally and historically, and besides, Mykhailo has Hungarian roots, so this most likely also influenced his choices during the early stage of his career.

Over a dozen cultural layers can be found in Transcarpathia, and most of them are represented in Kolodko’s works. First of all, modern Ukrainian layer is summarized in his miniature composition known as the United Ukraine that looks like a stylized map of the country and can be found in Uzhhorod. The statue of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk could fit here as well since he is a notable figure on the national level, but, as mentioned above, it was never installed permanently in a public space.

Nikola Šuhaj in Uzhhorod

Then there’s the Carpatho-Rusyn (or Carpatho-Ruthenian) layer, the one related to East Slavic ethnic groups of the Carpathian region — mainly Transcarpathian Rusyns, Lemkos, Boykos and Hutsuls — that are often associated with Ukrainians (actually, in the past the term Rusyn was used for all Ukrainians), but, due to their partial historical and geographical isolation and contacts with other nations, have some distinct linguistic and cultural characteristics.

The Arkan Dance statue on the Synevyr Pass mentioned above definitely belongs here since it represents a traditional Hutsul dance. The Knyahynia Meteorite installation in Uzhhorod features a figurine of a man in a traditional costume. The man is Vasyl Kryvyanyk, a local from the Lemko village of Knyahynia who found a piece of the eponymous meteorite in 1866.

Andy Warhol, whose mini-statue (as well as a life-size statue mentioned above) can be found in Uzhhorod, had Lemko roots. The same is true of Michael Strank, one of the men on the iconic World War II photograph, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, whose mini-statue, too, was installed in Kolodko’s hometown. The name of the Carpathia steamship famous for rescuing survivors of Titanic has also inspired the sculptor to dedicate to it a miniature in Uzhhorod.

Knot of Kroton

Gregory Žatkovich, the first governor of Carpathian Ruthenia, that is Transcarpathia, after the region became part of Czechoslovakia after World War I, sits atop a miniature copy of the Liberty Bell in Uzhhorod, thus in a way connecting three cultural layers: Carpatho-Rusyn, Czech and American. The composition known as the Knot of Kroton refers to Ivan “Kroton” Firtsak, an athlete and once the world’s strongest man who was born in Transcarpathia and became famous in Czechoslovakia. And another bridge between the Carpatho-Rusyn and Czech layers is the aforementioned statue (or rather two statues — in Uzhhorod and on Synevyr Pass) of Nikola Šuhaj, a Carpathian folk hero and a character in a novel by a Czech author, Ivan Olbracht.

Maybe even an installation that looks like two fish could be mentioned here since it refers to Malyi Uzh, a tributary to the city’s main river that ceased to exist due to earthworks during the Czechoslovak period.

And, of course, the Good Soldier Švejk, also mentioned before, belongs to Czech cultural layer, as well as miniature hedgehogs that are the symbol of the town of Jihlava in Czechia. Note that the mini-statue of Tomáš Masaryk in Uzhhorod was created by Roman Murnyk and Stepan Rusnak, although it looks very much like Kolodko’s works.

Swan Lake

We should not omit the time when Transcarpathia was part of the USSR. Kolodko’s composition Hasta la vista, Lenin, which looks like a railroad car supposedly containing Lenin’s bust, is a sort of farewell to the Soviet epoch. So is the Swan Lake miniature that alludes to the August Coup of 1991 when Tchaikovsky’s ballet was aired on TV. And, while we’re at it, there’s also a mini-statue that alludes to pre-Soviet Russia, the one of Peter the Great who — so the story goes — enjoyed Transcarpathian wine, although the statuette is often referred to as simply the monument to winemaking.

Hungarian layer, of course, is the most amply represented one. Here we find count Miklós Bercsényi and his wife Krisztina Csáky in Uzhhorod (who resided in the city’s castle), and Imre Thököly and Ilona Zrínyi in Mukachevo and Chynadiiovo (they owned the castles in the two towns), as well as Ilona’s son Francis II Rákóczi in Mukachevo. A miniature copy of the Holy Crown of Hungary was made by Kolodko for Uzhhorod. The crown was kept in Transcarpathia (in Mukachevo, to be more precise) for a short time during the Napoleonic Wars, so maybe Kolodko’s miniature Napoleon in Uzhhorod is looking for it? Well, Napoleon appeared there before the crown and originally referred to both the Napoleon cake and the Waterloo movie filmed in Transcarpathia in the 1960s, but we could easily fancy such an additional twist.

Miklós Bercsényi and Krisztina Csáky in Uzhhorod

Then there are the mini-statues of the great Hungarian composers Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók and Ferenc Erkel (the author of the music for the national anthem of Hungary); poets János Arany and Ferenc Kölcsey (who wrote the anthem’s lyrics); István Laudon, a Hungarian pedagogue and naturalist who lived in Uzhhorod; Harry Houdini, a famous Hungary-born illusionist; and, well, Főkukac.

Moreover, two great Hungarian inventors are honored in Uzhhorod. The first is Ernő Rubik, and Kolodko created a bronze copy of his famous cube, while the second is Tivadar Puskás, the inventor of the telephone exchange — to commemorate him and his invention, the sculptor made a tiny telephone and called it Hallom, which means I hear in Hungarian, and, according to one version, inspired Thomas Edison to use hello/hullo as a telephone greeting after he had heard it from Puskás.


The period when Transcarpathia was part of the Austrian Empire is represented by a mini-statue of Mozart in Uzhhorod, the life-size statues of Franz Joseph I and the whole Schönborn Park mentioned before. Note that there are also mini-statues of Erwein Friedrich Karl von Schönborn-Buchheim in Svalyava and of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, in Solochyn, both created by Roman Murnyk and Stepan Rusnak.

Kolodko’s miniature hanukkiah in Uzhhorod as well as his several Holocaust memorials in the region commemorate the Jewish heritage of Transcarpathia. A mini-statue of the legendary King Laborec celebrates the time when Transcarpathia was home to White Croats, while a miniature Arab is Muhammad al-Idrisi who was the first to mention Uzhhorod on a map. And the Celts mentioned before allude to archeological findings in the region and the most archaic cultural layer of Kolodko’s works.

Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka

A special mention is due to the statues of Adalbert Erdélyi, Gabriel Gluck, Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka and Ignác Roskovics (the life-size one). Each of these four artists spent at least some time in Transcarpathia, but the personality and works of each of them are an amalgam of multiple cultural layers, so their choice by Kolodko is really symbolic and to the point.

Finally, some of Kolodko’s works in Uzhhorod refer to the wider world cultural heritage: there are miniature Eiffel Tower, Manneken Pis and Statue of Liberty, as well as a statuette of Jon Lord of Deep Purple fame. I can only add here that Slovak, Romanian, German and Romani (Gypsy) cultural layers of Transcarpathia are not represented enough to make Kolodko’s collection of public art really exhaustive in this regard.

Rezső Seress

Meanwhile in Hungary, it seems, Kolodko is only starting to discover, decipher and translate into sculpture cultural codes, for the scope of cultural layers covered by him here so far is rather limited.

The Hungarian layer, of course, dominates: Liszt, Houdini, the Rubik’s Cube, Rezső Seress (a pianist and composer known for his Gloomy Sunday tune), and cartoon and book characters — the ones mentioned above as well as Mekk Elek, A kockásfülű nyúl (The Rabbit with Checkered Ears) and The Fourteen-Carat Car (which refers to another book by Jenő Rejtő) — are the most obvious ones.

Mekk Elek

The Moon Buggy on Hold utca (Moon Street) celebrates Ferenc Pavlics, a Hungarian-born engineer behind the Apollo Moon Rover. And a diver with a key near New York Café is an allusion to an urban legend that says that the great playwright Ferenc Molnár, upon the café’s opening, threw its key into the Danube so that it would never close again.

Although an American character, Kermit the Frog in Kolodko’s interpretation refers to the time when frog legs were a delicacy in Hungary. Another international gastronomic pun is a miniature rat painting the word Lecsó on the wall. Lecsó is a Hungarian dish similar to the French ratatouille, which is also the title of a famous cartoon featuring a rat.


The communist period is represented by the 1956 tank and the short-lived ushanka statue, while the Jewish culture is commemorated with the statues of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, Hannah Szenes, a World War II heroine, and the Noah’s Ark.

The Austrian layer, in addition to Maria Theresia in Vác, is represented by Franz Joseph I in a hammock, and by Anton Dreher, an Austrian who founded the legendary brewery in the Hungarian capital, as well as a pair of horses pulling barrels with the Dreher beer.


We should not forget that Hungary is an EU member state, and the miniature Mr. Bean’s teddy bear on the former British embassy building reminds us of it, alluding to Brexit. And, of course, there are references to the wider world culture, namely a urinal alluding to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, and Libido, which is a nod to Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog (and his Hungarian-born wife and porn star Cicciolina).


We’ve mentioned earlier that an artist’s works provoke a response in others, so let us consider what kind of ideas and emotions Kolodko’s statues provoke in those who see them.

It seems some people think public art belongs to the public, that is to everyone and to no one in particular, which is in part true by definition and even more so in the case of “guerrilla” art. Thus, it is known that some of Mykhailo Kolodko’s mini-statues were stolen or damaged. While in most cases it’s a typical infantile vandalism, there’s one notable example of politically motivated vandalism.

In 2019, Kolodko installed the miniature ushanka, a Russian winter hat with a red star on it, next to the controversial Soviet memorial in Budapest’s Liberty Square. This was an obvious ironic allusion to both communist past that still has deep roots in the mentality of many Hungarians and the country’s current flirtation with Russia and “illiberal democracy”. However, Erik Fülöp, a member of the far-right Mi Hazánk Mozgalom (Our Homeland Movement), felt offended and, few days later, knocked the statue off with an axe and threw it into the Danube. Some time later, Kolodko installed a miniature axe in its place. Considering that the politician can’t do anything to the well-guarded Soviet memorial nearby, it’s interesting, from the psychological perspective, how a tiny guerrilla statue can be used to give vent to one’s suppressed negativity.

The Axe

Fülöp wasn’t the only one who was politically provoked by Kolodko’s sculpture. In Ukraine, some people felt offended by Hungarian references, and especially by the Holy Crown of Hungary. His statues of Franz Joseph I and other works in Schönborn Park also stirred controversy and accusations of “imperialism”. And the statue of Peter the Great is often called simply the monument to winemaking, probably to avoid undue attention.

Luckily, most people rightly take Kolodko’s work with a pinch of salt. The sheer number of the mini-statues turns them into the objects of treasure hunts. And some of them are really hard to find even if you know where to look for them — take, for example, Hallom in Uzhhorod, which is so small that it’s barely visible on the wall.

And when you find them, you start wondering about the meaning behind them, because, as we have seen, it can be quite sophisticated. Thus a game turns into a research. To uncover all hidden connections, you look up, dig deeper, interact with cultural codes, meditate — in other words, participate in the evolution of ideas.

Note: All photos used in the article are my own.



Ukrainian writer, translator, independent thinker and researcher

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