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Eyes looking far: St. Petersburg chooses one of two projects for the Viktor Tsoy monument

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A decision on the Viktor Tsoy monument in St. Petersburg is suspended. The City Council meeting, which was due to be held today and which was supposed to deliver a compromise, was moved.

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There is no certainty even about what would the monument look like and who’ll author it. Two sculptors are coming up with their ideas. Alexandra Lee met both 

Sculptor Matvey Makushkin is being accused of artistic shrewdness, cussedness and even plagiarism. But he continues working on a Tsoy sculpture. Songs, personal archives and memoirs do help a lot. Twenty five years ago, the ticketless boy was lucky to witness the rock idol live at a concert in a small Siberian town. Just a few months before his death.

Matvey Makushkin, sculptor: “I recall him being very tall. His face had no expression, eyes were looking far. As if he was not here, but somewhere far away”

The eyes are rooted deeply in his memory. And this pose too, as if borrowed from the idol, and the famous photograph, taken in 1988 at the also famous interrupted concert in Moscow

Matvey Makushkin, sculptor: “He stood in that pose, keeping his hands together and looked into distance. I don’t know what he was thinking of at that moment, but it was characteristic”

Matvey presented this look at a competition organized in 2009 by the Tsoy remembrance Fund. After a landslide victory in the 1st round, the author – for some reason – rejected his initial idea and presented this, completely different, sculpture of Soviet epoch’s last rock star.

The main favorite received no support with his Tsoy monument idea, but works of other authors – despite good marks from the jury – were found not convincing enough by the Fund and by the father of the dead musician – Robert Tsoy.

They got back to the 1st winner blueprint, suggesting it has to be worked up together with the competition’s finalist Alexey Nechiporuk. But there was not enough space for the two sculptors – even in a spacious workshop.

And then the second author decided to make his own sculpture of Tsoy – using the blueprint which took him to the finals of the competition.

Just like Makushkin, Nechiporuk will reflect the singer looking far beyond. But the rest of his vision of the star called Tsoy, which he has been rigorously concealing from the public eye, does not look like the photographic Tsoy by Makushkin. The main difference is the position of hands. The singer was open to his fans, despite somewhat confined and even grim outlook – say the sculptor and the author of the project. The composition is balanced by a guitar hanging on his back, authors explain using professional language.

Gennadiy Chelbogashev, architect: “The main difficulty is that we’re not making just a guitar or intertwining hands. We are making an image. The image is what’s important for us in the 1st place”

The two projects were also different cost-wise. The ordering party – the Tsoy Fund – would have had to spend 15 million rubles on it. Authors have already found a sponsor, but the competition’s organizers are meddling with their verdict.

Gennadiy Chelbogashev, architect: “The Tsoy Fund is dictating its own view on what the monument should look like. That is the problem. The Fund liked this work, reportedly. But its hard to evaluate. How can you evaluate music if you’re not a professional?”

The monument must be rescued not by professionals or relatives, but by the fans – says former member of the Fund and former manager of the “Kino” band. So far, he claims, the conflicting sides have been having personal interests.

Yuriy Belishkin, former manager of “Kino”: “Money, ambition and so on. Anything, but love. But when there’s love, you get the right thing. I like the 2nd version, but if the people choose the 1st one – I’ll accept it” 

Love and remembrance can be expressed without intrigues, money and even professional recognition. Street artists from Belarus know that for sure. To gift one of St. Petersburg courtyards with the very same far-reaching look of Tsoy, authors of the portrait didn’t even have problems finding a place for it. Although in the story of a future monument this was the easiest matter.

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “Only the location of the new monument has been determined. Here – in a garden at the Prospekt Veteranov. Its territory will look different with the monuments arrival. And while the council is deliberating which project would be fulfilled, the city is waiting for changes”

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