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Warsaw. There was supposed to be a monument to the victims of the Prague Massacre, there is a sculpture

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Just before the local elections, a socialist modernist sculpture appeared on Vilnius Square on a concrete pedestal with the inscription “To the Victims of the Massacre of Prague”. “Granite Gaze” has no connection with the battle of the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794. The city hall calls the initiative of one of the district's deputy mayors “abuse.” He ensures that everything is legal.

“Granite Gaze” is a sculpture by Dariusz Kowalski, previously standing, among others, in Strzegom. It depicts a head cut by waving plates. There are dark cubes on its surface, at the back and on the sides. The monument was erected unexpectedly. On Friday, it was erected with the help of a large crane, and photos from this operation can be found on Prague Facebook groups.

The concrete pedestal on Vilnius Square was prepared several years ago with the intention of restoring the monument to the Polish-Soviet Brotherhood in Arms, moved several dozen meters from its original location. After the construction of the metro station, the monument of the “four sleepers”, as Warsaw residents customarily referred to it, was to return – such a controversial decision was made by the then Warsaw Council. But then the councilors changed their mind, and the decommunization act came into force, which ordered the removal of names and objects praising communism from public space.

The cleaned monument could not be returned to Prague and remained in storage. The district came up with the idea of ​​commemorating the victims of the Prague Massacre of 1794 in this place. The inscription “To the Victims of the Prague Massacre” appeared on the pedestal, and next to it there were six display cases with educational boards and drawings. On Friday, the installation was enriched with a new, most impressive element.

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The sculpture appeared unexpectedlytvnwarszawa.pl

The deputy mayor became impatient while waiting for the monument

– This is not a monument, it is a sculpture – says at the beginning Jacek Wachowicz, deputy mayor of Praga Północ and president of the Piękna Praga association (he forms a ruling coalition with PiS in the district). She admits that she stood on his initiative. – This place has been waiting for several years to build a monument to the victims of the Prague Massacre. Although we have money reserved for the architectural competition and construction, the Warsaw Council has been withholding the decision for years. Hence the move – explains the deputy mayor. – This space had to be filled to attract tourists' attention – he adds.

Wachowicz argues with the accusation of the sculpture's lack of thematic connection with the event it is intended to commemorate. – This is not Mickey Mouse, it is an interesting sculpture by an outstanding artist. It's about symbolism. The stone face gives food for thought. There is no need to create a monument dripping with blood, showing murder and rape, to show the drama of those events – explains a local government official.

He assures that the sculpture was provided free of charge by the author, and the district only paid for its transport. It's supposed to last half a year.

Jacek Wachowicz argues that everything was done “100% in accordance with the law” and the implementation date had no connection with the elections. – No demonstration! I don't have to prove anything to anyone, I've been doing my own thing for decades, I've been working diligently for Prague, says Deputy Mayor Wachowicz.

“We perceive the situation at Wileński Square as an abuse”

The city hall is critical of the matter. – We perceive the situation at Wileński Square as an abuse, because the district described its intention as a temporary exhibition of sculpture, while it is actually erecting a monument under the slogan of a temporary exhibition. So he is trying to bypass the competences of the Warsaw Council – comments Monika Beuth, spokeswoman for the city hall.

– The inscription on the plinth, which was previously created without the appropriate consents, gives the sculpture a completely different context – for an outsider, it turns from a neutral artistic object into a monument – adds the official.

The sculpture appeared unexpectedlytvnwarszawa.pl

“A few hours before the election silence, in an atmosphere of scandal”

And opposition councilor of Praga Północ, Grzegorz Walkiewicz, reminds that the commemoration was to take place “as part of a supra-political agreement.”

– The form of commemoration was to be the result of the competition. Thanks to this, the monument was supposed to have high artistic value. Meanwhile, the monument was erected without any competition, without any consultation with artists, residents or the conservator of monuments – criticizes Walkiewicz. – Erecting a monument a few hours before the election silence, in an atmosphere of scandal, certainly does not serve the memory of the murdered people of Prague – he sums up.

Author:Piotr Bakalarski

Main photo source: tvnwarszawa.pl

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