Controversial Jaak Joala statue deposited in storage at ERM in Tartu

Pieces of the disassembled Jaak Joala monument, now at ERM in Tartu.
Pieces of the disassembled Jaak Joala monument, now at ERM in Tartu. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

A controversial monument to Estonian singer Jaak Joala (1950-2014) has been deposited at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) in Tartu, though will not be on display to the public.

On Thursday, the statue reached Tartu from its original location in Viljandi, Joala's home-town, where it had been on public display for just days before being encased in a plywood box, following a complaint from Joala's widow.

The monument and its accompanying box will be kept in storage and it will not be on display for around 10 years, museum director Kertu Saks told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).

She said: "It's definitely not being assembled at present. That time when the wounds, as it were, have healed, and when it might be exhibited is still a long way off. Initially, it won't be exhibited for 10 years."

That the statue was concealed soon after its unveiling in the South Estonian town, around new year 2020/2021, was the result of an injunction from Joala's widow, not to use his likeness in the edifice.

The installation had also attracted a range of opinions on its aesthetic merit.

At the same time, the saga itself sits well with ERM's remit, Saks added.

"It is a clear tale, of a kind which the ERM does collect. We see it in light of the fact that the statue arrived at ERM with the box, and that this is actually a tribute to all those who were involved in the creation, and also the taking down, of the statue. There were opposing views. People were passionately both for and against it, and it is this passion which makes the story actually culturally interesting. That's why we wanted it at ERM," said Saks.

The monument had been removed in January this year and kept in storage.

Jaak Joala memorabilia. Source: Raadio 4

Joala was often referred to as one of the "three tenors" of Estonia (along with Ivo Linna and Tõnis Mägi), and his fame as a singer and actor spread far beyond occupied Estonia's borders into the rest of the Soviet Union and beyond. He became more reclusive towards the end of his life.

Famous movies he starred in include 1982's "Teisikud", which featured a pan-Baltic States' rallycar race and culminated in a Russian-language rendition of the Steve Winwood hit "Vallerie", sung by Joala.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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