One of the oldest bridges across the Neris River in Vilnius was fully renovated in 1952. On that occasion, four sculptural compositions were erected on its four corners following the canon of Soviet realism and illustrating the corner-stone symbols of Soviet ideology: soldiers, scientists, farmers, and workers. Four pairs of sculptors were entrusted to create them. Even the title of this sculptural ensemble, “Industry and Building”, speaks of the aesthetics of the time.
Now they are, perhaps, the only remaining monuments of the Soviet era in Vilnius, yet untouched. One of the reasons is that they are not related directly to the sadly famous personalities of that period, although feelings concerning the destiny of these sculptures rise and fall periodically even now.
Today they came to the focus of society because of…the gay community. After having looked for their own symbol in Vilnius for a long time they decided that the monument corresponding most exactly to their worldview is the “Two Workers”. Arguing that this is the only sculpture representing two young men together they have chosen this monument as a symbol of their struggle for their rights.
The 82-year-old sculptor Bronius Vyšniauskas, the author of this sculpture, has called the choice of gay people “absurd and offensive”. The old man cannot understand what homosexuals and his work have in common, especially because he does not like them.
A third party has joined the argument: Soviet sculptures should be taken down and thus all disagreements would be solved.
We can listen to all of them without comment: the leaders of the gay rights movement in Lithuania who feel foreign and rejected in this heterosexual world; the old sculptor for whom the Soviet ideals he was making monuments for are sacred and who is feels grief because his work is rejected together with the former ideology; the new ideologists who think that it is necessary to replace all Soviet “dinosaurs“ with the new national ones. The monument, standing for more than fifty years, was erected in one of the busiest places in Vilnius. Thousands of people pass it everyday without even noticing that it is still there. Perhaps, they are going to notice it soon because the gay movement is going to parade and place flowers at this monument that is taking on a new meaning. —lfc.lt
Valdas Navasaitis (b. 1960) was born in Kaunas. In 1983–1986, he worked as a director, scriptwriter and cameraman at the “Banga” amateur film studio in Kaunas. In 1984, together with director Šarūnas Bartas, he went on an expedition to Siberia (in the eastern part of the Sayan Mountains) to shoot the film Tofalaria. In 1988–1993, he studied film directing at the Moscow State Cinematography Institute. In 1992–1997, he created films for the Kinema film studio. In 1999, Navasaitis founded and became the head of the Image and Sound Studio. He is a member of the Lithuanian Cinematographers’ Union and of the Association of Producers, and he sits on the Cinema Council at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. He is also a member of the European Documentary Network. —14th Vilnius International Film Festival
Marius Ivaškevičius (g. 1973) graduated from Vilnius University with a degree in Lithuanian Philology and is a prose riter and dramaturge. Ivaškevičius published his first book, a collection of short stories called “Children for Sale” (“Kam vaikų”), in 1996. He later wrote two novels, several essays, and other prose works. He made his debut as dramaturge in 1998. His play “The Neighbour” (“Kaimynas”) won the National Drama Competition in 2000 and was performed at the Vilnius Youth Theatre. In 2002, he was awarded the prize for best Lithuanian dramaturgical performance in Lithuanian theatres by the Ministry of Culture for his play “Malysh”, which he directed himself for the Oskaras Koršunovas Theatre. His play “Madagascar” (“Madagaskaras”), published in 2004, received the prize for most artistic book in Lithuania in the same year. He also writes screenplays and directs films. —Vilnius International Film Festival