Installed in 2001, this is a group of bronze sculptures created by Russian artist Mihail Chemiakin, located in a park in Bolotnaya Square, just south of the Kremlin. The 13 allegorical sculptures depict alcoholism, exploitation of child labor, indifference, drug addiction, prostitution, sadism, ignorance, pseudoscience, war, poverty, theft, for those without memory, and advocating violence.
Standing in front of the 13 vices are two blindfolded, golden children. At their feet are a ball and two books: “Folk Russian Tales” and A.S. Pushkin “Fairy Tales.”
In the photo above, Ignorance is a man with a head of a donkey, a jester’s staff in one hand and a clock in the other. Irresponsible Science is a hooded figure holding a scroll with pseudo-knowledge on it. He or she holds a stick with strings used to manipulate a small, clothed mutant, who resembles a human being but has a lizard tail, three legs and two animal heads. There is a complicated lab assembly at his/her other foot: perhaps an alchemist’s contraption?
In the center of the vices, the only one on a pedestal, is Indifference, using two of its four arms to cover its ears; the other two are crossed across its chest. Its eyes are shut and its mouth is closed.
Propaganda of Violence is holding a shield embossed with weaponry. The tall hat has the look of a cannon. To his right is a stack of books, one of which is Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” To his left is the statue representing Sadism, a bloated, savage man with rhinoceros horn above his nose. Around his waist he has a rope that ends in a noose; a long, sharp knife dangles from the rope.
For Those Without Memory is represented by a pillory, a torture device used for punishment by public humiliation. Snakes are crawling up the column. Child Labor is portrayed as a nicely dressed man with a head of a bird inviting you to come to his factory. The door is slightly open, yet there are impressions of hands pressing out from the inside, perhaps indicating it is not easy to exit.
Poverty is depicted as an old woman, barefoot, her breasts sagging, begging for help. War is portrayed as a humanoid with a thin, robotic neck, wearing a gas mask. He is holding a bomb with a Mickey Mouse head on top of it, presenting it towards the children as if it were a toy. His feet are bird-like and the wings resemble swords.
Drug Addiction is a butler, politely offering a syringe in one hand and some other drug in the other. Like war, he sprouts has sword-like wings; the two figures are at either end of the arc of statues. Prostitution is depicted as an attractive, bare-breasted woman with a frog head. Theft is a man with a head of a pig. He is offering a small bag, carries a larger one slung over his shoulder, and is winking. Alcoholism is a bloated Dionysus, straddling a wine barrel and wielding a flagon in one hand and a drinking horn in the other.
There are explanatory signs in several languages explaining the meaning of the artists intent:
I created the sculptural composition “Children are the Victims of Adults’ Vices” as a symbol and a call for action to save the living and future generations. For many years it has been declared and pathetically exclaimed: “Children are our future!” However, it would take volumes to write down all the crimes of the society against children. I, as an artist, call upon you with this work to turn your heads backward to hear and behold all those sorrows and horrors our children have to suffer nowadays. All sensible and honest people should stop and think before it’s too late. Don’t be indifferent! Fight and do your best to save Russia’s future!