Saturday, January 28, 2012

From Lenin to Deng Xiaoping: statues in Romania

Who decides in Romania where and whom shall be represented in the public space? This is the question. A recent decision taken by the local administration of the city of Bistrita in the northern part of Romania has puzzled me. They decided to build a statue of Deng Xiaoping in the Independence Square motivating that they received an address from the county' prefect...

If we take a look at the case of Bucharest we discover that the Bucharest Mayor has a "Scientific Council of the Administration of Monuments" (?!) that decides what personality should be represented. My puzzlement comes after two controversial decisions to (re)build in Bucharest the statue of King Carol (which cost was of 3 million Euro) on its former pre-communist site (realized by sculptor Florin Codre) and to place in front of the Bucharest National Theater (TNB) a equally costly project (worth 800.000 Euros) called "Caragialiana" by Ioan Bolborea and inspired by Romanian playwright I.L. Caragiale. Both projects were questioned by contemporary artists as part of their public interventions. See more about it on their website.

Let's not forget Bucharest is already scarred by such monuments as the "Memorial of rebirth - Eternal glory to the heroes and to the Romanian revolution of December 1989" (!) by Alexandru Ghildus also known as "the olive" or "the potato" failing to achieve the status of an obelisk the author intended so as to remember the heroes of the Romanian revolution of 1989 in the Revolution Square.

I ask why isn't a form of public consultation imagined before building such unrepresentative monuments and why isn't there more transparency in what concerns the selection of personalities to be remembered as well as in what concerns the authors of these projects.