Vladimir Putin’s massive head, complete with stark white, cryptic eyes, can be seen from space.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, employed its Resurs-P Earth observation satellite to snap a shot of its president’s head, which an artist and apparent Putin fanatic carved into a field in Verona, Italy. Roscomos posted the image to its Instagram account on July 7.
“We wanted to check whether or not [this portrait of] Putin is visible from outer space,” a Roscosmos official told the Russian media agency RBC.
Indeed it is. The Italian artist Dario Gambarin used a tractor to mow Putin’s head into the ground, which The Moscow Times reports as being a 25,000 square meter “art piece.” Gambrin completed the Earthly portrait in recognition of Putin’s attendance at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, a forum for the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations to tackle international issues, like global disruptions in climate (President Trump, who is skeptical of climate science, did not attend the climate talks). Gambarin felt that Putin’s leadership efforts might galvanize the world’s most influential nations to resolve some of humanity’s problems.
“Why did I decide to depict Vladimir Putin? Because I believe in his major diplomatic experience, which he can put to use at the G20 meeting,’’ Gambarin told RBC. “A politician such as Putin can help new world leaders establish a durable balance in the world and solve current problems.”
Although Gambarin is enthusiastic about Putin’s leadership, many of Putin’s journalists aren’t so keen on Putin’s rule, which they find murderous and corrupt. Since 2000, when he was first elected president, twenty-five journalists have been murdered in Russia, most which investigated corruption, politics, and crime. Today, Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that rates democracy and media freedom around the world, rates Russia’s press freedom as “Not Free,” ranking it a dismal 180 out of 199 in countries.
In contrast, Freedom House most recently assigned the United States a press freedom status of “Free,” a status given to just 13 percent of nations.
Gambarin, however, does not exclusively carve the heads of media-restricting quasi-dictators into Italian fields. In 2009 he created a portrait of then-President Barack Obama, who had this to say to the White House press corps during his final press briefing in January 2017:
“America needs you, and our democracy needs you. My hope is that you will continue with the sane tenacity that you showed us.”
President Obama concluded by underscoring the need for a vigilant, suspicious press.
“You are not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics, you’re supposed to ask me tough questions.”