An anatomical map of Russia

By Wladimir Sgibnev

In a gallery in Berlin I stumbled upon a map drawn by the Russian artist and illustrator Leonid Tishkov. This stunning map is brimming with corporeal metaphorics: Tishkov conceptualises Russia as a hermahrodite being — Europe is its the female part and Asia its male — and composes an amusing and thought-provoking story around it.

Sure, the radioactive dump on Novaya Zemlya archipelago explains why the Islands could be conceived of as Russia’s faeces. But who ever thought, Kamchatka was Russia’s penis, peeing the Kurile Islands on Japan?

Leonid Tishkov's (1997) Anatomy of Russia (Courtesy of Jiri Svestka Gallery Berlin)

My translation of the map’s labels might be difficult to follow, but since I cannot redraw the map from scratch with all the English-language labels and annotations, I invite the reader to try and have a look on the table below. The labels are arranged according to their location on the map:

Anatomical map of Russia

map scale 1:1000

The northern ocean, left to right:

Barents Sea

Novaya Zemlya (Russia’s faeces)

Kara Sea

Cape Zhelaniya

Laptev Sea

Eastern Siberian Sea

USA

male genitals of Russia

countries on the left, from above:

Northern neighbours

Sweden

Fins

Chukhnya

Latvia

Lithuania

Belorussia

Poland

Ukraine

Moldavia

Hungary

Romania

diverse Yugoslavians

Caucasus

Russia, European part, from above:

Moscow (the breast, mamma)

Ryazan

Tula

Kaluga

Volga our mother

Europe (the female part)

Astrakhan

Russia, Asian part, left to right:

Ural — Russia’s gastrointestinal tract

Omsk

Asia (the male part)

Novosibirsk

Krasnoyarsk

Baykal (the urethra)

Amur our father

Magadan

Pacific Ocean, from above:

Kamchatka peninsula

Okhotsk Sea

Sakhalin island

Japan

Vladivostok

Southern borders, left to right:

Kaspian Lake (the womb of Russia)

Azeris

Kazakhstan

Mongolia

China

Left:

Russia’s female genitals

Centre:

The great androgynous Russia:

Asia is its male part

Europe — its female one

Moscow is there our foster mother

Christ Saviour cathedral glows with its nipple

hides its uterus in the black soil

everyone calls Volga its mother

yet father we call the Amur

Russia hauled out and drooped Kamchaka

with the Kurile Islands we pissed on Japan

we crapped with Novaya Zemlya

Russia Russia is only our dear mother our stepfather —

the Ural is her bowel the gastrointestinal crooked Russian path

the Baikal is the bladder

yet the Kaspian lake is an unfathomable vagina producing oil

protect it from the Musulman

they have surrounded it from all sides

they want to disgrace it

we won’t let offend Russia our motherland our people

the great time will come

the vulcanic Kamchatka will rise

will unite itself nay will insurge against America her Hollywood

will unite themselves the Asian part and the European one

the great androgynous Russia will copulate with itself

Kamchatka will enter the Kaspian

and will stand there forever

Russia will not need anyone

neither Germany nor America

and even less Libya

a long orgasm awaits Russia

eternal peace and honour to the tricolour

composed and drawn by L. A. Tishkov

Right:

1 – external genitals of Russia, 2 – head of the penis, 3 – penis corpus, 4 – spermatic duct, 5 – prostatic gland, 6 – the river Amur, 7 – seminal vesicle, 8 – scrotum, 8 – testicle

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Über Wladimir Sgibnev

I'm a post-doc researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig, working on post-Soviet cities and mobilities. Prior to that, I completed my PhD at the Central Asia department of Berlin's Humboldt University, doing research on urban space production in Tajikistan. Surely, I work with different sorts of maps, mental maps for the most of them; but generally speaking I think of maps as the summit of mankind's asthetic and data processing capacity. The world needs more maps to be a better place!
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