Viljandi to remove controversial installation commemorating singer

Jaak Joala monument in Viljandi.
Jaak Joala monument in Viljandi. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Authorities are to remove an installation in the South Estonian town of Viljandi commemorating legendary Estonian singer and performer Jaak Joala, mayor Madis Timpson says, at the singer's widow's request.

The city government is likely to make a formal decision to move the sculpture on Monday, Timpson told ERR.

The singer's widow, Maire Joala, had demanded the removal of his likeness, namely face and hands, from the installation by Monday, January 18 at the latest, making the demand via her lawyer.

ERR was unable to receive comment from the law firm Thursday, but a representative of its office said that they would comment after receiving a response from the Viljandi city government.

The installation, which was only unveiled at the end of 2020, was initiated by Viljandi councillor and Isamaa member Harri Juhani Aaltonen and created by Mati Karmin received a mixed reception, as much on the grounds of financial transparency surrounding its development as on aesthetic grounds.

MTÜ Meie Viljandi, the organization behind the development, reportedly reeived €50,000 in grant money towards the project.

A native of Viljandi, Jaak Joala played flute and also bass guitar in addition to singing; he was a member of two bands, "Kristallid" ("The Crystals") from the mid-1960s and then "Virmalised" ("Northern Lights") from the late 1960s and through the 1970s. He regularly performed in Russia and in the Russian language. After restoration of independence, he appeared on stage frequently with Estonia's other two biggest male singing stars, Tõnis Mägi and Ivo Linna, taking a more behind-the-scenes role in his final years, when he also suffered bouts of illness. He died on September 25 2014, in Tallinn.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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