Estonian Soviet Sculpture

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Laurie says:

I was going to write about an exhibit of prints by women that I saw in Estonia, and I’ll do that soon. But first, I saw a film there that really impressed me. I wasn’t planning to write about it but I decided it was very impressive, so I was lucky that Deb could find information about the film on the web, in an article by Farah Abdessamad.

Aldona is a short film by Lithuanian-born visual artist and filmmaker Emilija Škarnulytė.  The film is about her grandmother, Aldona, touching sculptures from Lithuania’s Communist past.

None of the Baltic republics give the Communist sculptures much room. A lot of them were originally toppled. In Estonia, they are on a small patch of ground behind a museum. In Lithuania, they are in Grūtas Park, which Abdessamad describes as “a socialist-realist sculpture graveyard garden not far from [Aldona’s] hometown. There, among the monumental relics of past Soviet heroes, Aldona tries to recognize and remember the silhouettes of Stalin, Lenin, and fallen soldiers from the Great Patriotic War.”

The movie was very powerful and really moved me. There was something amazing about how she touched the sculptures. Toward the end of the film, the filmmaker reveals that Aldona went blind after the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

I wanted to touch the sculptures and feel something like what she felt. Of course, since my eyes are fine, I knew it would be a very different experience.

But I still wanted to do it. So I went to the field behind the museum.

The shadow is me taking the photo. You might recognize the heads of Lenin. The rest of the sculptures, except one, are mostly people who where prominent Communists when Estonia was still occupied by Russia.

I closed my eyes and ran my hands over the sculptures. It was texturally amazing and emotionally unexpectedly intense.

One sculpture from the 20’s was really good art. It was made during a short period when Russians and Estonians were given some “breathing space,” when starvation and shortages were replaced by a free market economy and a jazz age splashed onto the streets of the Russian cities.  This created a brief period of really fine radical art and,(not surprisingly), Stalin ended it. I was delighted to see something from that historical moment.

It’s a military sculpture and I took several photos of it.

As usual, click on the photos to get the best images.


I’m delighted that this film is available on the internet. I hope you will watch it for yourself.


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