• August 23, 2017
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Radczenko: Let’s not exchange old donkeys for new ones

On the 23rd of August 1991 crowd of citizens and guests gathered on the Lukiškės square of Lithuanian capital. Two days ago Soviet August Coup fell and Lithuania regained independence. Countries all over the world were competing which one approves Lithuania’s independence as first. Lithuanian Sajūdis organized mass meeting to memorialize Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and to show happiness of Lithuanians with regaining their independence.

‘We needed an important symbol. We were thinking to take away KGB building or do something else that is also important – that was the moment when we all thought about the monument of Lenin’ – this is it! Let’s collapse this monument! – recalls Andrius Kubilius.

A big crane appeared on the square and it broke the bronze monument from stone pedestal. It turned out that workers in 1952 foreseen such possibility – the monument was well attached and did not break completely. Two legs remained on the pedestal. They were removed few days later with the rest of the pedestal. Since then, the square has not been disfigured by any monument, but there were ideas to put some stone or bronze donkey once again.

In 1999 Lithuanian government adopted a resolution that said that the square is very important for Lithuanian sovereignty and is the representative square of Lithuania. It is the only resolution in the world concerning…city square and it’s architecture. Since then, Lithuanian government and Vilnius self-government got ready to tidy up the square. In 2007 they organized self-government creative workshops in Vilnius and they chose 7 projects from which one was going to be fulfilled. But none of them was approved by authorities or citizens. This year, Lithuanian Ministry of Culture organized next workshops where out of 32 ideas, 5 best were chosen. Government is going to spend 500 thousand euro on fulfilling one, that will be chosen in October 2017.

Arūnas Sakalauskas „Żołnierz Wolności” sculpture might have biggest chances. Architects Gintaras Čaikauskas, Linas Naujokaitis and Kęstutis Akelaitis planed the way to integrate it into Rėda circle, completing it with historical accents formed on the square. Darius Žiūra, by contrast, wants to scan face of every pedestrian walking on the square and form a video installation thanks to which all of us will have a chance to become a monument. Andrius Labašauskas would like to create an artificial hill where visitors could lay down and admire the view of Vilnius and Church of St. Philip and St. Jacob. On the other side of the hill, he would like to have a wall with the most important dates of Lithuanian history. Algimantas Lelešius wants to create a lot of little architectural accents telling about various happenings in Lithuanian history. Wheres Tomas Grunskis wants to form a square in the shape of Pogoń and lay it out with tiles that would illuminate with various shapes.

These ideas have been coming for years. Representatives of older generations are more conservative and patriotic – they want a monument in the center of Vilnius depicting tough history of Lithuania. Younger generation wants it more liberal and modern way – they want something more innovative in the center of Lithuanian capital, less solemn. In my opinion it is best to leave the square just the way it is. Without monuments and bright installations.

Since 1860 there has been the biggest market where they also placed a city weight. Square was surrounded by shops and cafes. In 1897, on the initiative of Salomon Górewicz, a first agricultural exhibition took place right there. A fair has been organized here each year since 1900 and since 1904 – Saint Casimir’s Fair. In the interwar period, they did not place Józef Piłsudski monument, as it is according to Wikipedia. It continued to be a market place where they soon also started arranging green landscape. Witch is the best way to organize it today – beautiful park with paths and benches. It would also be the best way to honor our freedom – it would show that we are also free from soviet monumentalism. From thinking that the city should be filled with monuments and sculptures. Remind yourself how many lances have been broken in fight for removing these soviet donkeys from the Green Bridge. And now see how good it looks without them. Same as the Square without Lenin.

Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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