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Mysterious Head Sculpture Captivates St. Petersburg

The strange art object appeared on a sandy shore of St. Petersburg’s Vasilievsky Island this month. Kirill Grunichev / Viontakte

A mysterious antique head that appeared on the shores of St. Petersburg’s Vasilievsky Island this month has quickly become a social-media sensation — but no one knew where it came from, until now. 

The strange art object, placed on a sandy shore with Soviet-era apartment buildings looming on the horizon reminded locals of the surrealism of Salvador Dali’s paintings, while others saw references to “The Lord of the Rings” movie franchise or the famous head sculpture in Krakow, Poland. The mystery of its appearance only added to its allure, with locals joking that someone “lost their head.”

The local MR7 news website finally uncovered the head’s mysterious origins this month: it once had a home in the offices of another St. Petersburg publication, the Sobaka.ru news website.

Sobaka had used it as a decoration during last year’s party for its 50 Most Famous People in St. Petersburg list, with guests posing in front of the infamous head and posting pictures on social media, MR7 said.

MR7 reported that the sculpture, reportedly made of foam, was first found near a dumpster on Uralskaya Street near Sobaka’s offices this spring before it disappeared for months, reappearing on Vasilievsky Island on Dec. 10. 

In the weeks since it was dropped on Vasilievsky Island, it has become Instagram fodder for St. Petersburg locals, giving it a second life.

The artist behind the head, Vera Martynov, shared on Facebook her frustration that her work had been dumped in the trash, saying that she would have rather taken the head home with her. 


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