Restoring Tank Dignity

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Ah yes, the Pink Tank. It’s one of the foremost icons recognizable to anyone interested in Czechoslovakia’s throwing-off of Soviet rule in the 1989 wave of Eastern European revolutions. True, the events that made this war-chariot famous (by making it pink) did not happen until about a year-and-a-half after the actual Velvet Revolution, but they unquestionably represented a deliberate snub to the Russians.

We’ve had occasion before on this blog to discuss the maverick Czech artist, David Černý, whose rosy re-christening of the Russian IS-2 tank that used to stand on Soviet Tankers’ Square in Prague made him famous, but that was in the context of one of his later (but just as wacky) artistic works. Anyway, the focus now is on the tank itself: whatever became of it? Lidové noviny provides the answer, via the Czech Twitter-news service Zpravy:

Lidovky: Růžový tank přebarvíme, plánují ruští kozáci:



“The pink tank we will paint another color, plan some Russian cossacks.” Yes, citizens of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk (in Siberia, just east of the Urals) – including members of the “Cossack Tank Brigade” stationed there – are taking up a collection to re-paint it to another “special” color, presumably closer to the green of its original military purpose. They have also paid for a special plaque, listing WWII veterans’ names from the Chelyabinsk area, that they are asking the Czech government to place in front of that tank. It’s no longer at the square (now known as Kinsky Square), by the way – it was moved to become part of the collection of Prague’s Military Museum, and a series of six photos accompanying the article show the tank (still pink, and with what looks like a snorkel on top lending it a certain priapic aspect) being moved across the Vltava River that bisects the Czech capital.

David Černý, by the way, has no problem with any of this. His only question is whether the Chelyabinsk cossacks would like to hire him to re-paint the tank, or whether they’re just going to send some other Russian artist of their choice to Prague to do the job. Does he really need the money – or was he joking?

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