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Art is hard. You have to please at least some people, because food costs money, but you also thrive on integrity and your ability to, like, challenge existing norms, man. Maybe that's why a certain subset of sculptors chooses to sneak their more batshit artwork into places you'd least expect to see it. That, friend, is how supposedly solemn walkways, roads, and parks often contain statues that can throw you right into Weird Shit Central at a moment's notice. You need only to know where to look.

And, of course, when to avert your eyes and run like the fucking wind.

9
The Big Giving -- London

Herald St

Ah, London! A veritable treasure trove of art and culture! Come, let us frolic in the sea of esteemed architecture, wonderful public art, and amazing sights. Let's take a walk along the South Bank and soak in all the HOLY MOTHER OF BALLS THERE'S A POOP-MAN AND HE'S THROWING UP!

Herald St
"Wharbargl!"

OK, what in the actual fuck is going on? Why are there a bunch of rock-encrusted things vomiting their guts out and leaking from various orifices in the middle of a square?

Flickr
"Arglebargle! Splort!"

Also, don't think I can't see you, statue on the left. You're clearly peeing.

The true beauty and terror of The Big Giving is that, much like the equally creepy EYE and Maman, it's a mobile exhibition. It was in London for but a while. Technically, this means that, should your local city council be wealthy and evil enough, this thing could turn up pretty much anywhere in your area too. Yes, even behind your bathroom window. Especially behind your bathroom window.

Hey, speaking of creepy art that can suddenly appear in your neighborhood ...

8
Calamita Cosmica -- Rome

Flickr

Calamita Cosmica is one of those sculptures that makes you scream, "Photoshop!" even when you see it in real life. Apart from its goofy plague-doctor-style nose -- presumably custom-made to mess with online goofballs who no doubt regularly present it as a real fossil -- it's an extremely realistic, 92-foot, 16,000-pound skeleton that was the last piece its sculptor finished before dropping dead.

Undeterred by the many, many "haunted by vengeful spirits" red flags this scenario presented, the Italian art bigwigs stuck old C.C. on outdoor display in Milan, where it became an instant hit among the art crowd. At least, the part of it that knew where it was -- I suspect that the folks who were unaware of its existence and just happened to stumble on a giant fucking skeleton chillin' around the corner were slightly less enticed.

Flickr
"THE PRICE FOR ADMISSION IS YOUR SOUL."

Not content to keep their colossal bone-god in one place, the Italians then sent it on a massive tour all across Europe, and if it wasn't hellbent on the destruction of all that is dear to us before, it certainly became so upon realizing that none of its foreign-host minions even bothered to pose it in amusing ways or even "accidentally" leave it lying around in the middle of some random road.

Alas, mankind failed in this seemingly simple task, and that, friend, is why there's always a strange feeling of dread behind all your other emotions. It's not stress or indigestion -- merely a countdown clock ticking away the time until Calamita Cosmica will finally arise and devour us all. Until that time, it is content lying in its secluded museum cave in Rome.

Resting. Waiting.

Dreaming.

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7
Mano Del Desierto -- Atacama Desert, Chile

Wikipedia

Let's say you're wandering the vast emptiness of the Chilean Atacama Desert for reasons I generously choose to believe are not crime-related, when suddenly, you see this:

Walter Bibikow/Photolibrary/Getty

Huh. That's a hand sticking out from the sand, all right. Are you hallucinating? Desert heat can do that to you, right? It's totally not the copious amount of chemicals you've ingested during the course of your completely law-abiding road trip. Turns out, you aren't seeing things, and also that hand-thing is quite a bit bigger than you originally assumed:

SoyChile
Gah!

It takes a special kind of mind to build a giant sculpture in the ass end of a desert and not torch it down after doing drugs for a week, Burning Man-style. Sculptor Mario Irarrazabal clearly has such a mind, which is why whatever chaos spirit is whispering in his ear at night prompted him to build his 36-foot Mano Del Desierto in the desert near the legendarily madcap mess of the Pan-American Highway.

The Internet tells me the statue is supposed to evoke emotions of loneliness, torture, helplessness, and whatnot, but I think we can all agree that its real purpose is more or less to mess with people and, maybe, just maybe, occasionally dislodge itself from its moorings and chase them down the highway like a horrifying love child of the Things from Fantastic Four and Addams Family.

Still, I can't help but feel that there are easier ways to flip people off with a giant hand statue ...

6
Gesture -- Prague

Wikipedia

Ah, there we go.

Yes, that's a giant purple hand in the middle of a river, flipping the most impressive bird this side of Johnny Cash to the world in general, and Prague Castle in particular. Granted, the Gesture was a more temporary exhibition than most for whatever reason, but I feel safe in including it because it a) just fucking turned up one day and b) was aimed smack-dab at the presidential residence just a couple of days before the 2013 early general election. That's about as unexpected as it gets.

News.com.au
"Yo, Vaclav, is it just me or does the river seem unusually hostile today?"

This decidedly Donald Trumpian take on political debate is the work of Cracked article alum David Cerny, who either doesn't like the president's politics very much or just loves seeing his name in the paper. Either way, it's kind of hard to take that thing as a straight-up insult: If I pissed someone off royally enough that they constructed a three-story middle finger across the road, I wouldn't even be mad. I'd be too busy drunkenly climbing the thing so I could plant my flag on top of it and claim it for myself.

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5
Eros Bendato -- Krakow, Poland

Wikimedia Commons

Every city has a meeting point -- the landmark central enough that friends out of town can easily find it and natives can allude to it with a simple one-word nickname that they think makes them seem cool. For instance, in Krakow, they meet by The Head. Said head, it should be mentioned, is a disembodied, eyeless, soulless bondage face known as Eros Bendato. This in itself is not so horrifying -- a giant decapitated head is a weird choice for a meeting point, but much better than, say, a massive, disembodied sphincter.

However, not unlike buttholes, The Head comes with a fair amount of stench and surprise. As is the case with all heads, the terror comes from within: Eros Bendato happens to be hollow, which offers any amount of opportunity for a) asshole tourists to make an already creepy statue even creepier by pulling stupid "let's stick our faces through the eye holes" crap and b) hobos and even bigger asshole tourists to use the statue as a waste and "foul-smelling liquid" depository (and presumably sleep inside whenever they get too drunk and confused). This makes every meeting by The Head a potential way for a terrifying, eyeless head to attack your multiple senses at once, sometimes by spouting suspicious liquids and drunk idiots from the neck hole. Art!

4
Children Are The Victims Of Adult Vices -- Moscow

Panoramio

With their nigh-mythical inability to give a fuck about anything short of a large-scale nuclear disaster (and sometimes, even that barely qualifies), you'd think the good people of Russia would be impervious to the old "creepy statue" thing. And for the most part, they are -- the country has more than its share of absurdly intimidating statues that embody the exact blend of indifference and insanity that has become their national stereotype.

And then there is Children Are The Victims Of Adult Vices, a small group of statues near the Kremlin that made a whole lot of Muscovites freak right the fuck out. The sculptures consist of a couple of innocent kids, circled by the physical representations of various adult fuck-ups that could ruin their lives. That's ... kind of creepy, but pretty unassuming as far as art goes: There's a message, it's a pretty important one, and not a single one of the "adult sin" statues is actively kicking babies.

It's just that the artist chooses to deliver his sobering message by representing the sins as the strangest vodka fever dreams this side of the Russians' actual dreams. War is a BDSM-themed gas-mask knight holding a Mickey Mouse missile:

Self-archeology
"Because fuck everyone's childhood, that's why."

In a fairly inspired Russian reversal of The Muppet Show, Prostitution and Theft are an anthropomorphic boob-frog and a nicely dressed pig-man:

Self-archeology
Nearby, a whole generation of Muscovite teens are nursing extremely awkward boners
and developing some pretty specific ideas about sex.

Alcoholism is a Bacchus figure in his underwear, because nothing says "think about the children" like uncomfortably clear dick outlines. Sadism is a robed rhino dude, because even the most creatively creepy artists run out of ideas sometimes. However, my absolute favorite has to be the inexplicable figure of Irresponsible Science, warning Russia against the inevitable future where their offspring will be chased down by lab-made, two-headed werewolves.

Self-archeology
As befits a country led by a possible Bond villain.

So, yeah. Say what you want about Russia, but at least their "kids today" game is on goddamned point.

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3
The Kissing Dinosaurs -- Erlian, China

Orrazz

Even the most adorable sight can become terrifying if the context is right. A cute baby doesn't seem so cute when he's crawling on the wing of an airplane, and a bouquet of roses is considerably less luxurious after the unwelcoming recipient shoves it down your throat. As such, a pair of French-kissing brontosaurs might seem like the coolest thing ever, but this effect is severely diminished when they enter your line of sight unannounced, when you're driving toward them at high speed in the vast, plainy wilderness that is the Mongolian borderlands of China. There's only one way that particular scenario is going to play out: You're go'n get stomped, boy.

Atlas Obscura
Not kidding about the Frenching part, either. They be mackin'.

Sure, in reality the kissing dinosaurs of Erlian (or Erenhot, depending on whom you're asking) are just giant statues built over an isolated highway near the border of China and Mongolia to promote an unfortunately located dinosaur-themed roadside attraction nearby. But good luck Googling that fact when you're driving toward them in the banjo backwoods of the Eastern world at sunset. All you know is that merely by turning up you've just accidentally cock-blocked a giant dinosaur, and you have nowhere to run.

2
Fork In The Road -- Pasadena, California

Trippyfood

Fork in the road.

Fork. In the road.

Fuck you, Pasadena. Fuck you for taking the dumbest imaginable pun and making it an 18-foot reality, just waiting to bitch-slap unwary passers-by with its insurmountable dad-joke-ness. And fuck you in particular for making it a site for charitable acts like food drives so that Internet comedians with aggressive pun and statue allergies are unable to truly curb-stomp your shitty sense of humor.

Good job, you humanitarians, you. Fuck you.

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1
Victoria's Way Spiritual Sculpture Park -- Roundwood, Ireland

Victoria's Way

One might not expect to find a meditative sculpture park in Ireland, what with the country's relaxation rites of choice involving a lot more malt than mantras. Still, not every denizen of a country has to be a lazy-ass stereotype. Just ask the good people behind Victoria's Way, a place of meditation full of sculptures specifically designed to calm th-

Tripadvisor
Aahhhhh!

What the hell? Is that a dude chopping himself in two with a sword? That's ... that's not the kind of contemplation I -- or, for that matter, anyone -- was after. Still, maybe it's just an individual brain-fart sort of thing. Let's press on and see what we can find. Hey, there's a statue of a lady:

The Mystery World
AAAAHHHHHHH!

Motherfuck! I call into question the meditative qualities of this particular park!

Turns out, Victoria's Way leans heavily toward symbolism, and some of the ideas it's trying to convey require something a bit more ... heavy-handed than your average tourist-store aphorism book. The bugfuck bog monster in the entry header is accompanied by a plaque that reveals the statue is called Ferryman's End, and it acts as a metaphor for losing touch. His ferry has sunk, you see, so he has no way to reach the shore and thus no other option than going full Gollum. Every Ganesha and Skeletor Buddha and self-bisecting crazy guy and thinly veiled boobmonster comes with a similar moral. Elephant people make the best rock bands. The dual nature of man. Steer the hell clear of any and all serpent ladies. Good advice, all around.

Besides, the visitor should probably see what's coming when the park is dedicated to cryptographer Alan Turing and the main entrance is a vagina dentata.

Wikipedia
There's probably some symbolism here, but it escapes me.

Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.

For even more statues that would scare the crap out of any would be visitors, like a giant half lion/half fish that shoots water, check out The 6 Most Intimidating Statues From Around The World or take a look at The 10 Most Unintentionally Terrifying Statues In The World and see a giant statue honoring a rectal sponge.

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