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Henry M. Robert

The public will choose design for the Heavenly Sotnia Memorial and fund it

The Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the KCSA announced a nationwide competition to determine the best design of the monument to the fallen heroes of Maidan
29 April, 2014 - 11:42

The Heavenly Sotnia Memorial will be erected in downtown Kyiv approximately in a year’s time, as specified in the conditions of the competition initiated by the Ministry of Culture and the Kyiv City State Administration (KCSA). The competition is open to all persons, amateurs included, willing to offer their ideas and proposals, and will run till June 16. This stage will be followed by design competition, technical assessment of completed designs, and public discussion of them. The organizers expect to complete the nationwide competition in October, so as to have the memorial erected in February 2015, to mark the first anniversary of the terrible events that occurred on February 18-20, 2014. The best design will be chosen not only by an expert jury, which is still being formed, but the public, too. Online voting is ongoing at the specially created website nebesna.kga.gov.ua.

The organizers themselves still have no idea what the monument will look like. They say that it must be imaginative, artistic, and touch a chord. “This should be a joint effort of experts and the public,” Culture Minister Yevhen Nyshchuk said. “The chosen design must bring tears to people’s eyes and reflect the pain of this tragic event. People from Europe and the wider world will come to visit the memorial, and we must make sure that no one would dare to reproach us for having it too easy. The competition will be unconventional, lacking the criteria commonly put forward when competitions for honoring memory of heroes are held. These events were very painful, involving mass participation and many zat the organizers did not wish to delay the competition, because people were already erecting unauthorized memorials and chapels on the tragic events’ sites. After all, this situation prevents the capital’s downtown from living to its full potential. Therefore, authors of future designs have had certain limits put on them, as there are just a few sites available. These sites are: public garden near Ukraina hotel, where activists have already erected an interdenominational chapel; corner of Hrushevsky Street and Parkova Lane, just opposite the Lobanovsky Stadium; place near the stairs leading up to the Zhovtnevy Palace.

These sites are precisely where confrontations were hardest fought, and where most of the heroes were killed. According to Serhii Tselovalnyk, head of the KCSA’s Department of City Planning and Architecture, while mountains of flowers and bullet-pierced helmets and shields are bringing tears to our eyes now, they are not something that should be a permanent memorial or monument to the Heavenly Sotnia. “We need an artistic image that will allow us to experience a catharsis through reliving these events,” the chief architect of the capital maintained. “We want a monument that would be invulnerable to any attempts to desecrate it, and also take into account that the administrative center of the city cannot become a graveyard. On the other hand, this competition is the first of its kind in Ukraine. Our department will gather information, while the public will determine the winner.”

Besides the competition, the ministry and the KSCA have joined forces to implement another project concerning museumification of the heroic events. Some artifacts and artworks of the Euromaidan protesters have already been acquired by museums. Officials want now to systematize it all, but it is far from given that the Euromaidan story will be told at just one museum, as there may be several special exhibitions at the nation’s largest museum institutions. The final decision is up to amateurs and scholars who have been invited to the project’s working group.

Who will fund the memorial’s construction? The initiators of the competition say the whole nation will sponsor it. How much money will be needed will be determined after choosing the winning design.

The competition initiators’ reasoning looks convincing at the first glance. However, some of The Day’s experts had earlier pointed out that more time is needed to achieve full understanding of the events we all experienced. They also said that a bronze or granite monument to the Heavenly Sotnia would be inappropriate. According to architect Heorhii Duhovychny, the best option is to create a memorial wall with photos of fallen heroes and an interdenominational chapel (which already exists), and preserve some barricades. Perhaps, such a design will win at the end.

By Inna LYKHOVYD, The Day