Riga | Memorial to Soviet Occupation Victims
A fluid stone landscape that evolves from below street level to a visible peak (top of the Forum). It contains places to rest, listen and discuss (stone steps, levels, forum and stone tables) all built in the fluid stone scape.
landSCAPES – sketches for The Memorial to Soviet Occupation Victims in Riga, Latvia
Starting point of our proposal is the belief that the commemoration of any totalitarian system should not be understood and experienced as finished and past. We understand the past as process within human species which has to be remembered carefully: its impact on individuals both, victims and perpetrators alike. This impact is always part of our presence.
Material: Granite from former USSR quarry. Forced labor workers from Latvia also had to work in soviet stone quarries. The presence of material from the goals of deportation commemorate the times of forced displacement to which tens of thousands Latvians have been exposed, many of them didn’t survive to return home.
Architecture: A fluid stone landscape that evolves from below street level to a visible peak (top of the Forum). It contains places to rest, listen and discuss (stone steps, levels, forum and stone tables) all built in the fluid stone scape. Different treatment of the stone surfaces (raw to polished) signifies interfaces for audio files. All transitions (from raw to polished, from street to landSCAPES to the Museum) are treated this way: a rather organic and fluid change from one to another – borders cannot be determined clearly.
Sound Files: Interviews, reports and songs of victims, survivors as well as collaborators, members of soviet organizations will be audible when the visitor connects physically to the stone. Contacting the stone with your ears or your ellbows while covering your ears with the palm of your hands will transmit the sound via your bones – the voices of the past become audible. Close collaboration with the Museum for selection of files – landSCAPES works as an extention of the Museum opening towards the city.
Temperature: Depending on the season either the sun or a built in heating-system will fully or partially warm up the stones (around interface areas). Thus the cold stone develops a human warmth – polished parts of the stone surface emphasize the lively impression of the heard audio recording.
With our choice of material, the shape of our sculptural architecture, the sound files and different temperature levels we create a challenging connection between public space, the given urban surroundings und human interaction on different levels:
A memorial is not just about judging the past but also about drawing the attention to the visitor’s present. We want to provide space for the past: looking at many layers of the times of occupation is the first step to understand and question it. Only then the past’s burden will influence the decendants’ moral obligations for the present and the future towards a responsible and emphatic conciousness.