‘Ottawa’ Five Competing Designs Revealed for Victims of Communism Memorial
The Department of Canadian Heritage has revealed five competing designs for a relocated and drastically downsized Memorial to the Victims of Communism at the Garden of the Provinces and Territories on Wellington Street.
Only one of the five designs is literally representational — depicting a toppling sculpture of Communist icon Vladimir Lenin. Three others feature collections of artfully arranged rods, while one relies on a “veil,” reminiscent of the wooden veil at Lansdowne’s Park’s TD Place, to convey its meaning.
Five teams of artists, architects, landscape architects and other design professionals were short-listed last November and given until Thursday to submit their proposals.
Here’s a summary of the teams and their creations:
Team space2place, made up of Vancouver landscape architect Jeff Cutler and Philadelphia artist Ken Lum.
Its entry shows a sculpture of Lenin in the throes of being toppled, “recreating in permanent form the befalling of Communist statuary at the zenith of decisive political and social change.”
Lenin was chosen, the team says, because he is the “foundational figure” of the world’s first Communist state.
Team Mills, a seven-member team of artists, landscape architects and public art consultants led by Karen and Ben Mills of Hamilton.
Its proposed work is an array of bronze “stellae” in the form of a gently undulating, permeable curtain.
“From a distance, the slender triangulated monoliths form a collective identity,” the team’s literature says.
“However, up close, they reveal individually finished surfaces or ‘skins,’ echoing the distinct stories and experiences of different groups of refugees.”
As the sun sets, the work will be bathed in a soft light projected from a central plinth, gradually taking on a “warm, iridescent glow until it becomes an immense floating field of light.”
Team Moskaliuk, led by Markham, Ont. architect Wiktor Moskaliuk, with landscape architect Claire Bedat and artist Larysa Kurylas, both of Washington.
Radiating from the memorial’s core, 200 bronze blades remind visitors of the triumph of the human spirit over the “dehumanizing and oppressive nature” of communist regimes, the team says. Each blade is etched with the surnames of five victims honoured by Canadian families and represent 500,000 victims, giving form to the estimated 100 million deaths attributed to communism worldwide.
An oval in the central plinth, shaped like a shield, symbolizes Canada’s protection of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Team Raff, headed by Toronto artist and architect Paul Raff, along with landscape architects Brett Hoornaert and Luke Kairys and designer and arborist Michael Ormston-Holloway.
The focus is on a sweeping sculptural array, 21 metres long and nearly four metres high, divided into two sections. Along its length, a fine vertical veil of 365 stainless steel fins supports 4,412 bronze rods. Each rod describes a unique angle of the sun — one for each hour of every day in a year.
The memorial’s powerful form, the team’s literature says, “reflects the horrific magnitude of wrongdoing” while also invoking gratitude and optimism for the present.
Team Reich+Petch Architects, which includes Toronto architect Tony Reich, artist Catherine Widgery from Cambridge, Mass., and Matthew Sweig, a Toronto landscape architect.
The team says its design presents two realms: the darker communist realm on the lower level, and the lighter realm of safe haven that is Canada in a shimmering metal cube on the upper level.
The lower level of the cube is a Room of Remembrance, with walls perforated with quotes that speak of communism’s oppression and Canada’s open spirit. A “freedom bell” rings out every 15 minutes, triggering a “cloud of voices,” relating personal experiences with communism in many languages.
This is the second design competition for the $3-million memorial, made necessary after the incoming Liberal government scrapped the former Conservative government’s controversial plan to erect a massive memorial on a 5,000-square-metre site on Wellington Street near the Supreme Court of Canada.
Instead, it will be built on a 500-square-metre site at the Garden of the Provinces and Territories, just east of LeBreton Flats.
The designs will be evaluated by a five-member jury that includes Ludwik Klimkowski, chair of the memorial’s sponsoring group, Tribute to Liberty. Before reaching its decision, the jury will consider feedback from the public from a survey launched Thursday on Canadian Heritage’s website.
Klimkowski told the Citizen the jury expects to reconvene on March 24 to review the public input and will recommend one of the designs to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly by the end of this month.
Tribute of Liberty is expected to contribute $1.5 million – half the cost of the memorial – to the project.
Though it has struggled in the past to raise funds, Klimkowski said the non-profit group should have the money with something to spare.
“A number of pledges were contingent on actual construction commencement,” he said. “If you take those into consideration, I think we have exceeded our goal.”
Canadian Heritage said the winning design will be announced this summer, with major monument elements unveiled in December 2018 and completion of site work and landscaping by March 2019.
More than eight million Canadians can trace their origins to countries that have suffered under totalitarian communist regimes, the department says.