Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Soul for the Our Lady of Vilnius Basement of Kindred Spirits

Some time ago, January 19, to be exact, I lingered over the obituary of David Sarkisyan. I had never heard of him during his lifetime, but he is someone that I regret not meeting, a man whom I would have gladly staked to a Svyturys at the OLV bar above. Some defining paragraphs from his obit:

"Mr. Sarkisyan, who was appointed the museum’s director in 2000, warned of a “cultural catastrophe,” saying that Moscow was losing its face and character. He was highly critical of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and his wife, Yelena Baturina, a billionaire real estate magnate.

His battles were hard fought but often futile. Thousands of signatures collected by the museum and vocal protests were not enough to save Voentorg, an early-20th-century department store located directly across the street from the museum’s main building. It was replaced by a new building that many regarded as a poor imitation of the old one."

Today, the New York Times ran another piece about Mr. Sarkisyan, An Appraisal: The Keeper of Moscow's Architectural Conscience"

Andre Ilyin's photo, below, accompanying the article, shows Mr. Sarkisyan in his office surrounded by a glorious jumble of archetypes and artifacts, a scene that evokes the Our Lady Vilnius Rectory office.

The following quotes cemented my feelings of solidarity with this man:

"...he was an extraordinary if anachronistic example of what a single person at the helm of a crumbling institution with few financial resources could accomplish — even in a world that seemed bent on silencing him."


“He was not interested in having a comfortable life; he didn’t follow any of the normal rules,” Peter Noever, director of the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, said in a recent telephone interview. “He stood for resistance.”

Thanks to all the people who are trying to save the natural habitat of the artistic spirit, possibly the Holy Spirit.

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