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2006 | 5 | 156-165
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THE ROLE OF POLITICAL FACTORS AND ADMINISTRATIVE RESOLUTIONS IN SCULPTURE (Politisku faktoru un administrtivu lemumu loma telnieciba)

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Sculpture in public space has been subjected to influences of ideological and political contexts as well as commissions from dominant authorities and religious institutions in almost all periods of history. Monuments realized in permanent materials have served to declare the might of the dominant political system, its ambitions and pretensions of existence. As sculpture in public space became an instrument of propaganda, administered territories were marked not just with works created in valuable materials but pieces in more modest materials as well. For instance, during the first post-war years public space was mapped with numerous plaster or concrete busts and figural monuments of Lenin erected at central town squares, close to institutions and schools but highway sides, parks, sanatoriums and kindergartens were decorated with kitschy plaster sculptures of pioneers, sportsmen and other cliche figural motifs found throughout the USSR. These plaster figures were cast at the USSR Art Foundation workshops after several officially acclaimed etalons and sometimes local artists were involved in realizing commissions based on accepted patterns. According to the slogan that art should be socialist in content but some traces of national culture can show in its form, there were also figures in national costumes. This low-quality mass art production in Latvia was called 'highway ghosts' or 'plaster ghosts'. Artists protested against these superficial sculptures made of cheap materials, and such objects were gradually removed. The plaster and concrete images of Lenin started to deteriorate and ruin in open air but it was not allowed to dismantle them. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s they had to be replaced by monuments in permanent materials - granite and bronze - in almost every town of Latvia. During this period of occupation Lenin monuments and memorial ensembles dedicated to Soviet soldiers made up the most part of sculpture in the public space.
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