Save Rugina! (petition)


To: Acting President of the Republic of Moldova, Marian Lupu
Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Vlad Filat
Mayer of Chişinău, Dorin Chirtoacă
Copies: Attorney General of the Republic of Moldova Valeriu Zubco
Deputy Secretary-General of the National Commission for UNESCO in R. M., Constantin Rusnac

It took the artists Nicolai Ischimji and Valerii Moshkov 25 years of hard work and several tons of scrap-metal and industrial waste to sculpt this unique art installation of European significance – the outdoor sculpture complex “Rugina & Co” – “РЖАвЧИНАХ” (“RustInRanks”). The exhibition of sculptures is organically integrated into the landscape and includes pieces such as “Purgatory”, “Bureaucratic Apparatus”, “The Shepherd”, “Iron Curtain” – a vivid three-dimensional contemplation on the age of totalitarianism and industrialization.

“Rugina” by any account is a major phenomenon of Moldova’s contemporary art: this sculptural complex is a testimony to the conceptual power and a vast creative potential of its artists. Moreover, it is a true blueprint of non-conformity, an example of selfless service to the ideals of art and expressional freedom in the conditions of underground under a totalitarian regime, a powerful manifesto of intellectual independence and global mentality.

What is the problem? Admired by audiences and highly valued by the expert community, “Rugina” has not yet gained the recognition of Moldovan authorities and is now under a threat of demolition! One of the pieces has been stolen, several others badly damaged. The artists’ studio, which serves an integral part and the technical basis for the project, containing the archives, sculptures, tools, paintings and a library, has been taken over by unidentified individuals with the connivance of some employees of the Mayor’s Cabinet (Primaria). The case of illegal breaking into the studio has been stuck in the Prosecutors Office for a year now. The public space, which is home to the “Rugina” complex, is being continuously diminished and blocked by new illegally installed fences. The land is now subject to privatization and is earmarked for conversion to private use.

Will photographs and books remain all that is left of “Rugina”, a unique multidimensional space born as the result of a tremendous creative effort, an embodiment of an incredible spiritual power? The authors of “Rugina” have always rejected tempting offers to sell individual sculptures of the complex or move them abroad, so that the integrity of the complex could be preserved. They are now eager to make “Rugina” their gift to the city.

We the undersigned petition the Acting President of the Republic of Moldova, the Government of the Republic of Moldova and the Mayor of the city of Chişinău to save the “Rugina” complex from demolition and to preserve it for present and future generations; to provide and guarantee unrestricted access to the sculptural complex for all viewers – be it the residents of Chişinău or tourists; to prevent the growing threat of privatization of communal lands; to stop the illegal seizure of the studio of Nicolai Ischimji and Valerii Moshkov.

How can “Rugina” be saved? The problem is not unresolvable and the solution does not require extraordinary effort or costs. It can be solved by creating an inter-departmental commission to include representatives of local authorities (Municipal Directorates of Culture and of Assets), Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Moldova, the Artists Union and the Architects Union, the Tourism Agency of Moldova, Parliamentary Commission on Culture, the Academy of Sciences, as well as independent experts on modern culture and representatives of non-government organisations.

Now is the time to grant “Rugina” an official status, which would help it survive and take its legitimate place in the history of Moldovan as well as European art. Then the project “Rugina – XX century – Globline” will get the chance of its full realization and will become truly global. We now need to act IMMEDIATELY to protect our cultural legacy from theft and destruction. Therefore, until the Commission takes an official, legitimate decision, all actions in regards to the artists’ studio and adjacent land, including “Rugina” must be suspended, including but not limited to its partitioning or any change in status or zoning. It is within our joint power and in our common interests, it is our responsibility as citizens of the local and global community to protect this monument of contemporary culture which is one of Moldova’s key Cultural Heritage objects of the late 20th – early 21st century.

Moldova has to share its art with the world, to be proud of it and to preserve it for future generations.

—“Rugina & Co.”, 3 Ghidighici, Chişinău

Sign the petition here.

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Filed under contemporary art, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals

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