Estonia makes monumental decision

  • 2007-08-16
  • From wire reports

OUTSTANDING IDEA? A model of the winning design shows how the Freedom Monument will look (Photo: Estonian Justice Ministry)

TALLINN - With the Bronze Soldier controversy still rumbling quietly in the background, Estonia is once again grappling with the rights and wrongs of locating a prominent monument in Tallinn.

A competition to design an Estonian Freedom Monument to serve a similar function as Latvia's famous landmark, has resulted in a 28-meter column topped by a cross winning the approval of the judging jury.

The successful entry also depicts Estonia in outline inside the cross instead of the more traditional - and confrontational - image of a hand brandishing a sword.

The jury gave 889 points to the winning design, titled 'Libertas', 670 points to second-placed 'OurPeople' and 656 points to third-placed 'Illusion'.

Archbishop Andres Poder, chairman of the competition jury, said Aug 15: "I hope the result meets expectations."

The jury will reveal the names of the designers of the top three entries in the near future and will publish the justification for its decision August 23.

The monument was commissioned by the Defense Ministry, whose intention is to site the new monument on Harjumagi Hill in Tallinn, providing final government approval is given for the design.

"We still have no landmark to symbolyze liberty for our people," said Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo, explaining the need for a symbol of Estonian resistance to oppression.

The plan is to unveil the new monument by the 90th anniversary of the outbreak of the War of Independence, November 28, 2008.

The Defense Ministry announced the competition March 14 and on Wednesday the jury picked three winning entries out of five shortlisted last week.

There have been attempts to erect a Freedom Monument in Vabaduse [Freedom] Square or its vicinity since the 1920s and several competitions have been organized for the purpose, but wrangling over designs has always prevented anything actually being erected.

After the restoration of Estonia's independence, the City of Tallinn organized a public competition for the design of a Freedom Monument in 2001-2002, but the winning entry was never built because of large-scale public opposition 's a hurdle the new design will also have to clear if it is to become a permanent fixture of the Tallinn skyline.

It did not take long for the first critical voice to make itself heard. Architectural History Professor Mart Kalm condemned the design as lacking artistic content, reported the Eesti Paevaleht newspaper.

"The first impression is that the jury was composed of people not connected with art, because the winning entry represents politicians' rather than artists' taste," Kalm said. He added that the Freedom Monument lacked any fresh artistic ideas, being literal and naive.

"Artistic people will regard it with contempt, while the general public will like it," he predicted.