Abandoned Story

British Artist Buries MiG-21 Fighter Jet, Marking the End of an Era

The Prague art Gallery Rudolfinum marks its 100th exhibition with a series of extraordinary events, among them the burial of a Soviet-made MiG-21 fighter plane.

Over the weekend, the premises of the research center ELI Beamlines in Dolní Břežany near Prague were bustling with activity as workers assembled a dismantled MiG-21 fighter plane, brought in on several trucks, in preparation for its burial deep underground. As bulldozers dug a large hole to accommodate the plane, numerous spectators looked on with a blend of curiosity and disbelief.

This intriguing artistic concept originates from the mind of British contemporary artist Roger Hiorns, whose expertise lies in sculpture and installation, working with diverse materials such as metals, wood, and plastics. The chosen aircraft, a Soviet-made MiG-21 fighter jet, serves as a symbol of the end of an era, bidding farewell to a period of development represented by the MiG planes. While the art concept is somewhat challenging for some to comprehend fully, the gallery curator, David Korecký, explained that obtaining the plane for this purpose proved to be no easy feat.

Roger Hiorns, photo: CTK

The ambitious project demanded not only finding the appropriate plane but also obtaining the necessary permissions for the art installation. Moreover, the plane required thorough decontamination and conservation measures to prevent any environmental pollution. The burial process itself, estimated to take three days, involved coordinating a team of skilled workmen.

Roger Hiorns has long been fascinated with the idea of submerging planes that typically soar in the skies beneath the earth’s surface. He executed a similar project last year by burying his first plane in a field outside Birmingham, and he envisions a future with numerous grounded planes buried at various locations worldwide.

The MiG-21 chosen for this endeavor was produced in 1971 and decommissioned in 1996. With its rich history, the MiG-21 holds a prominent position in the aviation world, having been utilized by the air forces of more than 50 countries. Remarkably, over 10,000 MiG-21s have been manufactured throughout its operational years, solidifying its status as the most widely and longest-produced supersonic aircraft—a legend among fighter aircraft during the Cold War era.

Image credits: CTK

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