Russian town stole «Kissing Students» from Tartu

Sculptor Mati Karmin was treated to an unpleasant surprise a few days ago when he discovered photos taken in an urban neighborhood of St. Petersburg in his mailbox. A copy of one of Karmin’s sculptures «Kissing Students»has been erected in the town without his consent or that of the city of Tartu.

Karmin received a polite letter from Russian construction company Otdelstroy last November. Nadya Emelayanova from the company’s marketing department informed Karmin that they had noticed the beautiful «Kissing Students»statue in Tartu the idea, design and execution of which had left a lasting impression.

The company wrote that it plans to build an urban neighborhood near St. Petersburg that would benefit from having something similar. Karmin was asked whether he could make a copy and how much it would cost.

The artist never replied to the letter. «I didn’t even write back because the statue is a symbol of Tartu. While I own the intellectual rights, Tartu owns the statue,»Karmin said.

The matter was followed up a few days ago. It turned out that Karmin’s failure to reply did not stop a copy from being made in St. Petersburg’s Kudrovo neighborhood. The kissers’ fountain was opened on August 26. It is located in a pedestrian area, in the middle of a great bedroom suburb. Karmin learned of the statue when a stranger sent him photos of it.

Things are way beyond inspiration. «It is plagiarism pure and simple, except for the fact the students’ necks have been made longer. But the architectural side – fountain, four domes spitting water, granite… It is virtually impossible to make a more exact copy,»Karmin said.

The sculptor said that Russia’s kissers are a little more wooden. «But the statues are still the same, down to the creases in the man’s pants,»Karmin said. True, the young man and woman in St. Petersburg are a mirror image of the statue in Tartu.

Karmin has turned to the city of Tartu, Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Authors’ Society. The latter’s hands are short however. The society’s attorney Anne-Ly Hussar recommends Tartu to make the matter official and write to the Russian local government. «Kissing Students»is a symbol of Tartu. «If another city has erected a copy, they should have first secured permission,»Hussar said.

Karmin also expects Tartu to fight for its statue as taking on the Russian justice system alone would be too much for him. The sculptor said he does not want to share his work with a Russian suburb.

«Had the mayor of St. Petersburg turned to Urmas Klaas and had the city said yes, it would have been a different matter. However, it would have to have been an official request in that case,»Karmin said.

Karmin sees taking down the sculpture as the solution. «The standard practice in copyright law is for the fake to be destroyed, but that requires a court decision.»There are other options that would require the local government to humble itself and launch talks with Tartu and Karmin. «My condition is for them to build the Tartu City Hall behind their kissers,»Karmin said, smiling.

Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas said that the city government has put their attorneys to work and is planning to send an official inquiry concerning plagiarism to Kudrovo. «What we are dealing with is misuse of one of Tartu’s more important symbols for which neither the city nor the author has given permission. I will contact the foreign and culture ministries to decide what happens next,»Klaas said. The mayor added the city is yet to decide what kind of a claim to file and against whom.

«Copyright is such a serious thing it should be observed by all countries, including Russia. The culture and foreign ministries should definitely take a stand here,»the mayor said.

Postimees was told from the Estonian Ministry of Culture yesterday evening that the complaint has reached Moscow’s cultural adviser Dmitri Mironov. There is little the culture ministry and the Estonian state can do beyond this point as copyright disputes are handled in civil court.

Otdelstroy could not find a single person with knowledge of the sculpture saga yesterday. After several phone calls, we decided to wait for an email reply.

postimees.ee
Tartu Russian
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
7 views in december
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Estonia's biggest banks are reminding their customers ahead of the upcoming holidays that interbank transfers will be significantly affected by the upcoming Christmas holidays — even beginning as soon as this weekend. Swedbank announced that if an interbank transfer has not been completed by the end of the business day on Friday, 21 December, the money sent will only be received by the other bank next Thursday, 27 December. SEB and LHV both noted that they...
Society
In a doctoral thesis successfully defended at Tallinn University (TLÜ) on Monday, Dr Maarja Merivoo-Parro examined what Estonian life was like in the Cold War-era United States and how this manifested in humor, music, education, recreation and academic mobility. Following the abolishment of serfdom, Estonians have been involved in a number of significant waves of migration, both voluntary and involuntary. It is due to this migration that Estonians have a w...
Society
At the Riigikogu sitting beginning at 10:00 EET on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) will provide an overview of the activities of the Estonian government in the implementation of EU policies. Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Toomas Vitsut (Centre) will also deliver a report, and representatives of the Riigikogu's parliamentary groups will present their positions, according to a Riigikogu press release. In his rep...
Society
Chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Mart Helme has called on Helir-Valdor Seeder, chairman of junior coalition member Pro Patria to tie the latter's support for the state budget bill to a decision by the government not to support joining the UN Global Compact on Migration. "Pro Patria still has the chance to demand from its coalition partners [the Center Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDE)] that its stances be t...
Society
Political news portal Politico published its list of the most influential people in Europe next year last week, with fifth place going to Estonia’s cybersecurity ambassador Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar. Tiirmaa-Klaar takes her place in between well-known Europeans, after Secretary General of the European Commission Martin Selmayr and in front of Ukrainian presidential hopeful Yulia Tymoshenko. Politico believes Italy’s populist interior minister Matteo Salvini will...
Society
Representatives of the transport ministries of the Baltic states, Finland and Poland who met in Tallinn on Monday were of differing opinions regarding whether to remain in summer or winter time once the practice of changing the clocks twice per year comes to an end. A recent survey indicates that more than half of Estonians would prefer permanent summer time. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Poland jointly acknowledged that the agreement to end the...
Society
Ida-Viru Central Hospital is having trouble with patients not showing up to scheduled specialist appointments. To combat this issue, beginning next year, the hospital will start charging visit fees for no-show appointments as well. Last year, patients at Ida-Viru Central Hospital failed to show up for scheduled appointments a total of nearly 9,500 times, accounting for some 5% of all hospital visits, reported ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera. "Patients...
Society
Tallinn city government finds that it is not reasonable to relocate the Tallinn Bus Station to the Ülemiste district near Tallinn Airport and that it should be left in its current location on Lastekodu Street. In connection with the preparation of an architectural idea competition and the drawing up of a detailed plan for the Ülemiste terminal in the framework of the Rail Baltic railway project, the city is drawing the attention of the Ministry of Economic...
Society
A criminal investigation has been launched into the Medita Clinic, one of the largest private sector bidders in public procurement tenders in the health sector in Estonia. The Northern District Prosecutor's Office initiated the investigation in accordance with the Penal Code section concerning the transmission of false information, according to ETV investigative show Pealtnägija. The Medita Clinic was the largest private provider of specialist medical care...