Ivana Bašić is an installation artist from Serbia living in New York and in her work, she often deals with the transformation of living beings into matter. Death and pain and new life stemming from them are consistent themes in Bašić’s work. The exhibition features Bašić’s piece A thousand years ago 10 seconds of breath were 40 grams of dust (2017): two pink alabaster stones that slowly self-destruct into dust. At the same time, the visitors of the exhibition inhale the dust, thereby making it a part of the circle of life again.
Pakui Hardware is an artist duo from Lithuania based in Berlin. Neringa Černiauskaitė and Ugnius Gelguda, who are behind the name, take an interest in how modern technology is shaping the economy and physical reality, including the human body. The exhibition features the duo’s installation The Return of Sweetness (2018) that depicts digestion as a hi-tech process.
Anu Juurak is an Estonian graphic artist and installation artist. Since the 1990s, her work has depicted the undefined unknown and the interpretation of death in our culture. The coal ramp of the Contemporary Art Museum will exhibit her work How Does it Feel To Die (2008), which was initially made for an exhibition at the Tallinn City Gallery. Among other things, what inspired the artist to create the piece was the connection of Estonian identity to death: from folk tradition to war and suicide. The installation can be likened to a modern Danse Macabre that takes kings, bishops and farmers alike in its cold embrace.
Jussi Kivi is a Finnish artist and adventurer who has explored abandoned places and underground passages his entire life. Jussi Kivi has also represented Finland at the Venice biennale (2009) and won the Ars Fennica Award (2009). The exhibition includes Kivi’s photo of the sewers under Helsinki and his drawings of various underground locations. As a new work for the exhibition, Jussi Kivi has created a darkroom that offers a view into an abandoned tunnel that was once in use. In his work, Jussi Kivi points out structures that are often out of view for the average person but which often actually underpin our entire civilisation.
Raul Keller is an Estonian artist mostly known for his sound installations, performances and radiophonic art. The storm drain in front of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia is the location for his installation Girl in the Sewer (2011), which was initially made for the LIFT11 festival of urban installations. The work refers to a poem by Jüri Üdi and it is also a reminder of lost places and an image of falling into a void that is simultaneously eerie and absurd.
Johanna Maria Parv
Johanna Maria Parv is an Estonian fashion designer who is completing her master’s degree at the Central Saint Martin’s University in London. The exhibition includes works from Parv’s 2017 collection Safe Ride. For several years, Parv has been working on enhancing the functionality of womenswear, and as a result, has added holes and unexpected fastenings to garments. This has resulted in objects that should logically add confidence when trying to make it in life but, in reality, they deform and constrain the human body in fixed forms.
Hanna Samoson is an Estonian artist living in Prague who mostly works with photography and installations. In her works, a keen feel for her times meets surreal humour. Samoson’s work Unnamed (2017/2019) is an installation-slide from her series Mom, You Don't Have to Worry About It – a lie the artist has told the most in her life. Although we hear various warnings about the imminent destruction of the world on a daily basis, we still feel we can keep going the same way. Up to the point where the slide eventually comes to an end.
Emilija Škarnulytė is a Lithuanian artist who creates illusions of the future where fantastic creatures roam and the achievements of humanity have become a distant past. Among other things, her works have been awarded this year’s Future Generation Art Prize. The exhibition features Škarnulytė’s video installation Sirenomelia (2017) where a solitary mermaid swims around in an abandoned NATO submarine base. The artist is making a poetic reference to once important but now forgotten facilities and a future world where things that people have created have become ruins.
Peeter Ulas was an Estonian graphic artist who explored very diverse topics in his artistic career that lasted more than half a century. The exhibition shows his graphic art from the 1970s that veers into surrealism. Ulas was inspired by Nordic nature, and he used its darkness and harshness to create frighteningly beautiful and mysterious works. “Ulas is one of the greatest mystificators in Estonian art, knowing and skilfully using people’s characteristic tendency to start fantasising at the moment when they have reached the eerie abyss that gains ground between two states of being – knowledge and ignorance,” art historian Vappu Thurlow has aptly written about Ulas.
Brit Pavelson & Sissela Jensen
Brit Pavelson & Sissela Jensen are a duo of artists that came together specifically for this exhibition. Both are artists with a background in feminist graphic design. For the exhibition, they created a new work for the screen on the facade of the Explorer office building. The work draws on autumnal death and rot that gives birth to new life. This way, depending on the viewer, death and decay can be beautiful. With the breathing building, the artists are also referencing the traditional Estonian religion animism where all living and inanimate things were considered to have a soul.
Aaloe-Ader-Flo-Künnap-Soosalu is a group of Estonian artists, architects and urban planners who are represented at the exhibition with their work O (2011), which was first made for the LIFT11 festival of urban installations. O is a huge black ball that will block the last room of the Contemporary Art Museum during the run of the exhibition, and on Mondays, when the museum is closed, it will move around unexpected places around Tallinn. Just as the blindfolded player in Blind Man’s Buff feeling their way around in the darkness, at the exhibition, O symbolises the dark unknown that is approaching us as a great force and that cannot be stopped.
Mare Tralla is an Estonian artist living in London. She started out in the 1990s as one of the first feminist artists of Estonia and has been an activist for a long time alongside her work as an artist. Recently, there have been more protests in Estonia than perhaps over the past 28 years in total. How does one take to the streets when the occasion calls for it? Mare Tralla is conducting a workshop and a lecture for the exhibition for everyone interested in activism in Estonia, using historical and contemporary examples to demonstrate how to convey one’s political message through public protest.
The Üle Prahi group is a team of young artists and curators that will organise a dumpster diving café on 1 November, the opening night of the exhibition. There is a lot of waste in the world and more is being added with each passing moment. What should we do with it? In addition to the event, Üle Prahi is also making a web-based zine that teaches how to engage in dumpster diving in Tallinn and what this term actually means. Download Üle Prahi Zine “How to Dumpster Dive”
Curator: KKEK (Marika Agu, Maria Arusoo, Kaarin Kivirähk, Sten Ojavee)
Graphic Designer: Ott Metusala
Henri Eek, Marten Esko, Dénes Farkas, Jonna Karvinen, Alver Linnamägi, Mariam Meparishvili, Tõnu Narro, Hans-Otto Ojaste, Johannes Säre, Mihkel Säre, Laura Toots
Eesti Kultuurkapital, Eesti Kultuuriministeerium, Estmak Capital, Moe Peenviinavabrik
Kaisa Kaer, Nelli Kotova, Ilona Martson, Maia Melts, Kent Märjamaa, Tõnis Peljo, Ivi-Mai Põld, René Reinumägi, Inna Samoson, Ago Samoson, Elnara Taidre, Kalle Tiismaa, Aleksander Tsapov, Maria-Kristiina Ulas, Eesti Kunstimuuseum, Festo OÜ, Ida-Tallinna keskhaigla
It is an end of autumn like any other: dark, cold and damp. Yet there is a strange feeling that no one really knows what comes next. Some dark unknown is approaching like a fast-moving river with a black surface and horrible waves. The world is perishing but something new can be born out of its ruins.
There is a shortage of doctors, teachers, bus drivers. There are no more people. Alien species are taking over nature. During dark times, resistance has converged underground. Demonstrations are held every week, every day. However, is there a way out of a world that has come to a dead end? Is the light at the end of the tunnel liberation or just another train heading towards you?
This exhibition is about dread and hopelessness. It reflects a self-destructive situation where the man-made world is turning on us in an increasingly forceful way. The participating artists of the exhibition help create a journey guided by uncertainty about what lies ahead.
The exhibition is split between the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, the city space and a programme of events.
The exposition at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia includes completely new works (Jussi Kivi), works exhibited in Estonia for the first time (Ivana Bašić, Pakui Hardware, Jussi Kivi, Johanna Maria Parv, Emilia Škarnulyte), as well as works that have been made for previous exhibitions but have been given a new context and meaning (Anu Juurak, Peeter Ulas).
In the city space, you can see an animated photo collage by Brit Pavelson and Sissela Jensen on the screen of the Explorer office building (Kai 1), the work O by the Aaloe-Ader-Flo-Künnap-Soosalu group in various locations across Tallinn, and Raul Keller's installation Girl in the Sewer in a storm drain in front of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia.
The programme of events accompanying the exhibition asks if there is a way out of this hopeless situation. The possibility of activism and resistance in a society in crisis is a starting point for events created by Mare Tralla (5 and 6 November) and the Üle Prahi group (1 November). During the exhibition, on 20 November, a book launch is held for Active Art, edited by Joachim Hamou, Maija Rudovska and Barbara Sirieix.