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IS THIS THE MUSEUM WE WANTED?


When I started working as the Director of Tartu Art Museum on April 1 last year (no, it was not a joke!), I had a rather naive understanding of the work done by a state institution’s head. Obviously I presumed there would be a massive amount of bureaucratic duties, but I thought I would have plenty of time on the side to review the collections, develop interesting exhibition ideas, launch cooperation projects in every direction, and be in touch with the activities on both the local and international scene. This understanding was not completely wrong, but the proportion between reality and fiction turned out to be 99% in favour of A4 papers and 1% in favour of art. Since the whole of my time has been taken over by daily chores and problems – not issues important in terms of art history – I decided to take everyday questions out of the office and into the art hall, working with them inside the curatorial project I planned as the opening volley of my exhibition program.

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Is This the Museum We Wanted? is certainly a site- and context-specific project. On the one hand, it is a very personal exhibition that reflects the experiences, thoughts and feelings of a head of an institution in relation to the institution of a museum and the most diverse aspects of its daily life. On the other, however, the exhibition that spans three floors and combines our museum’s collections with contemporary art also studies the operational logic of an art museum away from the centre, focusing on issues that are probably in the minds of many museum and art buffs. I wish to project my personal experiences as the head of an art institution in a small and isolated Eastern European town with a dwindling population on a wider surface and share them with my colleagues, cultural audience, art and museum professionals, financiers and the general public.

Since an art museum is primarily expected to mediate and interpret its collections, sometimes it needs to take a time-out and pay attention to the institution itself. It is more fruitful to do it collectively, engaging all interested parties and the community. This exhibition can then be seen as a tool or discussion platform for critically reviewing the bases of its existence and sorting out the principles of operation that have become the norm. I wish for this exhibition to turn into a kind of laboratory where people try to find joint solutions to problems that occur in the context of a museum. Is This the Museum We Wanted? stems from the acute need to reinvent the museum – we cannot go on like in the past (whether that means the Cold War period or the nineties), because the whole world around the museum has changed from the political order to the developments in the fields of museums and art and visual culture in general. Also, we cannot

IS THIS THE MUSEUM WE WANTED?

WHY THIS EXHIBITION?


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act like Kumu, the Art Museum of Estonia (which for many is probably the yardstick for an art museum in Estonia), because we do not operate in the same context. Thus this museum needs to be re-conceptualised and solutions must be found to better fit with this time and space, making the most of the means and opportunities we currently have. In a word – we must invent the 21st century museum.

HOW TO VIEW THIS EXHIBITION? Is This the Museum We Wanted? is built on issues (one per room) that both the exhibition curator and perhaps every (art) museum employee ponders and seeks answers to. I would like to compare this exhibition to a magnifying glass, sharpening the anatomy of a museum as an organ­­­ism; taking the magnifying glass closer focuses on the significant dilemmas and substance for thought specifically in the art museum context. In some halls of the leaning building, the exhibition/magnifying glass is zoomed to the full extent and the viewer peers into Tartu Art Museum itself, partaking in the atmosphere, expectations and hopes of the institution. In addition to objects of art, the exhibition also displays publications, archive materials and process documentation. NB! There are also three massive projects encompassing the whole room and produced specifically for the opening exhibition of the new program. The fashion designer Jo Nurm has designed jackets for our staff so that the hall mon­itors turn into models during the exhibition, presenting the brand new collection in the halls. Graphic designer Jaan Evart has treated the 5.8 degree angle of the leaning building as a source of inspiration that he uses in all of the exhibition’s promotional materials and publications. However, the most spectacular work is painter Kristi Kongi’s monumental spatial project that experiments with colour perception in the museum’s upcoming shop. The visitors will encounter a situation slightly different from the usual – instead of the conventional stroll through the halls and passive enjoy­ ment of the pictures, the visitor is expected to actively think along and sometimes also express opinions. Don’t be afraid to join the exhibition in its meditation or to find connections between the questions, displayed objects and the museum!

WHY IS THE EXHIBITION CATALOGUE IMPORTANT? The exhibition Is This the Museum We Wanted? comes with a simple and inexpensive brochure that we compiled to function both as a guide to the exhibition and a workbook with plenty of exercises to solve. Every issue is accompanied by a cloud of additional questions that expands the issue, directs it forward and invites an opinion. As contemporary


art is a very much information-based phenomenon and the work’s idea might not initially be grasped fully, we have made this brochure to help think along with the exhibition. The guide also features introductions to displayed works and the separately curated sub-exhibitions within Is This the Museum We Wanted? Their goal is again to open the seemingly specific issues and bring the works closer to the viewer. In order to fully partake in the project Is This the Museum We Wanted?, it is recom­ mended to visit the exhibition with this brochure in hand.

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THANKS As the exhibition curator, I would very much like to thank my colleagues and exhibition co-curators, our Head of Collection Mare Joonsalu, the contemporary art curator Marika Agu and the volunteer Hanna-Liis Kont who came enthusiastically along with the idea of the project, brought their visions to the table and made them real. Many thanks for their constructive cooperation! I would like to say especially huge thanks to our conservators Ago Teedema and Nele Ambos who had such an extremely short time to find a large batch of decent frames in our frame storage and made them exhibitionready. I am also very very grateful to Arvi Kuld, Jevgeni Zolotko, Kristjan Nagla and all the others who helped to produce and install works for the project. Since we had to work in very limited financial and temporal restrictions, an exhibition of this scale would not have been possible without constructive assistance. The publication accompanying the exhibition would certainly not have materialised without the constructive and decisive work of language editor Paul Emmet and designer Jaan Evart. Thank you!

When operating in art institutions, one must never forget the most important actor in the field of art – the artist – whose creativity provides their work and substance for thought. Thus the greatest thanks go obviously to the artists who came along with the idea of the exhibition, produced new works and loaned existing pieces for display. The whole process has been very constructive and enjoyable for me. Thanks a lot! Rael Artel Exhibition curator and Director of the Tartu Art Museum

IS THIS THE MUSEUM WE WANTED?

Of course I would also like to thank the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and Tartu City Government for their trust and financial support. And I thank all the private sponsors and supporters who lent their advice and efforts to the project!


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HOW GREAT SHOULD THE ART WE DISPLAY BE? They do say that size does not matter, but the question of how great the art should be on display in an art museum of an Eastern European small town is still there. Or rather: at what distance should our exhibitions still be visible? Should we focus on artists related to Tartu whose works are in our collection or should we look to contemporary artists operating today? What are our ambitions on the Tartu, Estonian, Eastern European and world scene? How great can art be before being too big for our bite? What would be the maximum size for the chunk we take so that the museum could chew it off and the audience be able to digest it? Should we try hard to bring great world names from art history to Tartu? Are we ready and able to do it? Would you, the visitors, wish to think along with an initially unknown piece?


TORIL JOHANNESSEN TRANSCENDENTAL PHYSICS 2014 POLYSTYRENE FOAM, 900 × 350 × 110 CM Courtesy of the artist

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On the floor of the biggest hall on the first floor in Tartu Art Museum lies a gigantic white object the form and function of which is at first glance confounding. TRANSCENDENTAL PHYSICS – the name of the sculpture that has conquered the room – dictates the exhibition visitor’s movement trajectory in the museum. So what is it? How do you observe it and what to think about it?

Toril Johannessen (b 1978) is a Norwegian artist who lives in Bergen. She graduated from the Bergen National Academy of the Arts and continued her education in the Kunsthochschule Weissensee in Berlin and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. In her works, Toril Johannessen combines photography, texts, drawings and installations. For years she has investigated the links between art and science. Johannessen is a member of the creative initiative Flaggfabrikken, a contemporary centre for art and photography.

HOW GREAT SHOULD THE ART WE DISPLAY BE?

The polystyrene foam sculpture by the Norwegian artist TORIL JOHANNESSEN is a site-specific piece that has arisen directly from the architecture of the Tartu Art Museum exhibition gallery. The artist has designed absolutely the biggest possible object that fits inside the gallery in one piece. This gesture of institutional critique is the result of strict measurements, careful testing, deliberation of alternatives, and sober calculations. One the one hand TRANSCENDENTAL PHYSICS visualises for the viewer the limits and architectural characteristics of the Tartu Art Museum exhibition hall; on the other hand it raises the question of the intellectual and creative limits of this exhibition institution. If this white styrofoam body provides the viewer with an understanding of the museum’s physical dimensions, what should the viewer expect in terms of substance?


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Sketches for Toril Johannessen’s sculpture Transcendental Physics


HOW GREAT SHOULD THE ART WE DISPLAY BE?

Sketches for Toril Johannessen’s sculpture Transcendental Physics

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IS THIS A TYPICAL COLONIAL SITUATION? A typical colonial situation*: the arrival of some stranger from a faraway land. She has a completely different background in education and experiences, appearance, understandings, habits, work methods and values. She starts to radically reorganise the organically evolved structures and systems that thus far seemed self-evident. The alien minority starts to dominate the local majority and imposes its racial and cultural superiority. She uses tools that cause alienation and mistrust in the local community and works at a pace that throws the conventional local rhythm completely off. So what to do now? Should one review existing understandings and values and go along with what the stranger offers? Or should one turn completely inward, standing categorically against all that has never been seen or heard before? How to continue acting under alien domination? Should one introduce the stranger to customs that have evolved thus far, hoping she adopts them? Should one cooperate with the stranger or leave the danger zone? Or should one simply decapitate the stranger and eat her? * Frantz Fanon has analysed at length the psychological background to a situation caused by colonialism


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Engraving of a view towards the city and the Bay of Singapore. Tartu University Art Museum. Photo: Rael Artel

IS THIS A TYPICAL COLONIAL SITUATION?

Engraving of a view towards Bourbon Island. Tartu University Art Museum. Photo: Rael Artel


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ENGRAVINGS FROM THE Tartu University Art Museum COLLECTION Sheets from the series: Voyage autour du monde, fait par ordre du sur roi les corvettes de S. M. l’Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Atlas historique. À Paris, 1825 Marie Alexandre Duparc. After a drawing by Jacques Arago. New Holland, Baie des Chiens Marins, Peron Peninsula. Meeting with the savages. 1824. Etching. Canvas 33.6 × 50 cm

Sheets from the series: L. A. Bougainville (1729–1811) Album pittoresque de la frégate la Thétis et de la corvette l’Espérance: collection des dessins relatifs al leur voyage autour du monde en 1824, 1825 et 1826: sous les ordres de M. le baron de Bougainville... À Paris, 1827–1828 A. Buchebois, V. Adam, J. de Langlumé. The view towards Bourbon Island. 1828. Litography. Canvas 36 × 54.6 cm V. Adam, J. de Langlumé. Travellers’ camp. 1828. Litography. Canvas 35.7 × 54.4 cm

Jean-Nicholas Le Rouge, E. Forget. After a drawing by Sebastien Leroy. Interior of a Timorese woman’s dwelling. 1825. Coloured etching. Canvas 34 × 50 cm

Isidore Laurent Deroy, J. de Langlumé. View towards the city and the Bay of Singapore. 1828. Litography. Canvas 35.9 × 54.5 cm

Jean-Nicholas Le Rouge. After a drawing by Jacques Arago. View towards the Rio de Janeiro theatre. 1825. Etching. Canvas 33.8 × 50 cm

ALSO ON DISPLAY ARE BOOKS FROM THE RARITY COLLECTION OF TARTU UNIVERSITY LIBARY.

Jean-Nicholas Le Rouge, E. Forget. The Isle of Timor. First landing. 1825. Coloured etching. Canvas 33.5 × 49.8 cm E. Forget. After a drawing by Pierre Antoine Marchais. New Holland, Baie des Chiens Marins. 1825. Coloured etching. Canvas 34.2 × 50.6 cm Claude Joseph Pomel. After Jean Vasserot. The Isle of Timor. View of the surroundings in Coupang. 182. Coloured etching. Canvas 33.7 × 49 cm Edme Bovinet. After J. Arago. Greater Asia Archipelago. Getting to know the Ombai Islands. 1825. Etching. Canvas 33.7 × 49.4 cm


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WHAT IS THE COLOUR OF ENERGY? While the more rational part of the population may delegate theories of energy fields, esoteric practices and transcendental meditation into the category of fairy tales, it does not yet make these phenomena non-existent or insignificant. Could we say that rooms and spaces also have their energy field, much like humans and animals? What is the energy of art works? What kind of energy is radiated by art institutions? From whence such energy and where is it absorbed? Can an institution’s inner energy level also be perceived outside? How does one recognise energy fountains and vampires? How is synergy created inside an institution and between institutions? How to change negative energy to positive? What to eat to gain good energy?


FLO KASEARU CLEANSING 2014 VIDEO, 4 MIN 12 S Courtesy of the artist

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The leaning building that hosts the museum’s exhibitions was built in 1793, over two hundred years ago. The building has survived several wars and political orders and seen better and worse days. Although it might be invisible or of little importance to many, a space must have its own memory and energetic field. The walls of the museum’s exhibition hall have recorded the energy of all the artworks displayed in the room and one can expect that the accumulated energetic background of the first floor in the leaning building desperately needs to be reviewed, the rooms cleaned. This is precisely the job for an especially sensitive and energetically capable person who tries to create some order in the leaning house’s halls again, preparing the rooms for new ideas and activities.

Flo Kasearu (b 1985) is an artist and the Director of Flo Kasearu’s House Museum. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts Department of Painting and continued her education at Rebecca Horn’s studio in the Universität der Künste Berlin. In her work, she is interested in various issues from public space studies and the analysis of nationalist values and mass behaviour to playing with liberty and economic depression. 2012 Köler Prize laureate and audience favourite.

WHAT IS THE COLOUR OF ENERGY?

FLO KASEARU’s work CLEANSING can be seen as a practical gift to the new head of the museum – namely, she cooperates with specialists to assess the energetic status of the room, trying to rid it of the tiredness and obsolescence. The video documents her extraordinary and supernatural room-cleansing process and hopefully the new program can start at the end of the exhibition in energetically more bright and pleasant halls.


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Scene from Flo Kasearu’s video Cleansing


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WHAT IS THE COLOUR OF ENERGY?

Scene from Flo Kasearu’s video Cleansing


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WHAT SHOULD A GOOD MUSEUM SHOP LOOK LIKE? An art museum’s shop is usually the point of sale for art books or paraphernalia about the collections. This gives the exhibition visitor a chance to take the experience back home or to delve more deeply into an issue that raised interest. For a museum it should be the opportunity to present exhibitions and collections more diversely and also serve as a source of additional income. However, how does one create a functioning museum shop under the conditions of lack of space, labour and starting capital? Should every museum have a shop at all? What could be learned from the experience of other institutions? Who is the museum shop for? What does the visitor hope to find here? What would the museum and local cultural life gain from a well-stocked museum shop? H-LK


Pages from Hanna-Liis Kont’s presentation Tartu Art Museum Shop

WHAT SHOULD A GOOD MUSEUM SHOP LOOK LIKE?

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Kristi Kongi’s sketch for the painting installation Candy Factory


KRISTI KONGI CANDY FACTORY 2014 INSTALLATION (ACRYLIC, AEROSOL ON WALL), dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist

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CANDY FACTORY is KRISTI KONGI’s monumental painting installation developed specially for the future museum shop rooms in Tartu Art Museum. Painting directly onto the walls lets her enter into a vibrant dialogue with the space and its function – to be the museum’s calling card and first greeting to the visitor. In her works, KONGI is playful and experimental, also extremely picturesque. Sometimes even so much that the viewer’s brain experiences the tender and rare short circuit between nerves and colours.

Kristi Kongi (b 1985) is an artist living and working in Tallinn who graduated from Tartu Art School Department of Painting and Estonian Academy of the Arts Master’s program in Fine Arts. Kongi’s works mainly deal with colours and their mutual relations; her pieces are often bright, joyous and playful, creating unexpected links. In 2013 Kongi won the Sadolin Prize for Contemporary Art.

WHAT SHOULD A GOOD MUSEUM SHOP LOOK LIKE?

The three-dimensional painting installation is in constant motion for the viewer. The painting shifts when the viewer moves through or past it. The painting shifts when the light falling on it changes. Lights and viewing angles shift. Colour shifts according to the passage of time in the room. Space and colour are essential qualities for art which is why KONGI’s installation will be in the Tartu Art Museum rooms for a longer period. So there will be time to view this piece – time and time again.


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HOW DO ARTISTS GET INTO A MUSEUM? On what grounds are artists invited into a museum to put on an exhibition? Is it more to do with the artist’s skilful sales talk or is it a pure lottery? Should one get along with museum staff or ignore all opinions and prejudices? Or should the artist work for years flawlessly on what she considers important and hope to one day be noticed and given a chance? Should art speak for itself or can you do things a little more smoothly? How can one fit into exhibition politics and adapt to the time period’s mental state of affairs?


FLO KASEARU PARTY NEXT DOOR 2014 INSTALLATION (METAL, WOOD, PVC) Courtesy of the artist

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Anyone entering the museum is greeted by FLO KASEARU’s installation PARTY NEXT DOOR, adjacent to the entrance. This is a small collection of offers and prayers by artists that were left on the museum door as a request for an exhibition. The form of the piece was inspired by the primarily urban practice where an apartment building’s entrance door becomes a message board for notices with contact info and an interest in purchasing an apartment there. The substance was inspired by the phenomenon experienced time and again by the heads of any institution organising exhibitions: every once in a while their mailbox receives a request for presenting the sender’s work at that precise location.

HOW DO ARTISTS GET INTO A MUSEUM?

All notices, offers and signatories used in the piece PARTY NEXT DOOR are fictitious and have no relations with the dominant reality.


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A look at Flo Kasearu’s installation Party Next Door. Photo: Rael Artel


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WHERE TO MOVE? All roads are seemingly open. Where should the artist or art institution move in this contemporary open world? How can artists get to Tartu or away from Tartu? In which direction should one communicate? How are relationships created and what must be done to keep them? How are dialogues created, how do they evolve and last? With whom to hold dialogues? What is the quality and result of such dialogues? Is avoidance of dialogues a sign of xenophobia? What kind of dialogues do we want to hold and with whom?


DAN PERJOVSCHI GLOBAL-LOCAL, BERLIN-BASEL 2013 MARKER ON WALL, 130 × 350 CM Courtesy of the artist

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DAN PERJOVSCHI’s drawing that has the sub-title of GLOBAL-LOCAL, BERLIN-BASEL on the basis of the various issues in it, visualises in Tartu Art Museum’s lobby perhaps one of the most pressing dilemmas for an art institution operating in the relatively isolated periphery of a contemporary open world: should one turn in on oneself and be re­ signed to admiring one’s belly button or should one try to look farther and seek contact with the Other outside one’s tradition and culture? The answer to this dilemma defines much of the institution’s face and position in the art scene and the choices give rise to lifestyle and mentality.

Dan Perjovschi (b 1961) lives and works in Bucharest. He is an internationally renowned artist who works primarily with drawings, combining them also with installation, performance and video. The direct-to-wall pieces with simple form offer witty comment on the social reality, political and economic relations, art world paradoxes and local peculiarities. Perjovschi has had an innumerable series of presentations at international exhibitions, public actions, biennials and festival.

WHERE TO MOVE?

The drawing’s other part, BERLIN-BASEL, pokes fun at the art world’s trends in the last decades and the art market logic that has come to dominate it, taunting primarily the Eastern European artists who attracted attention in the 1990s with socially sensitive works but whose careers have now led them to the expensive art fairs offering their wares to the upper class. GLOBAL-LOCAL, BERLIN-BASEL will be displayed to the viewers until the end of this director’s tenure.


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Dan Perjovschi’s drawing Global-Local, Berlin-Basel in the Tartu Art Museum lobby. Photo: Rael Artel


JAAN TOOMIK THE WAY TO SÃO PAOLO 1994 VIDEO, 10 MIN 44 S Courtesy of the Art Museum of Estonia

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JAAN TOOMIK’s THE ROAD TO SÃO PAOLO is a seminal work both in terms of Estonian video art history and Tartu. This idea that was born almost 20 years ago arose from the international exhibition invitation to TOOMIK – an invitation to participate in the São Paolo biennial, one of the world’s oldest and most dignified international contemporary art events. When he looked at the atlas for information about São Paolo, the artist discovered that the city is on the same row as his birthplace Tartu and Prague (coincidentally the site for TOOMIK’s public action MY PRICK IS CLEAN). From the River Emajõgi started his road to São Paolo and the international art world. TOOMIK’s video has been highly visible in Tartu Art Museum but at the same time incognito. Obviously the location of the exhibition house that is almost on the bank of the River Emajõgi is a reminder of the mirror cube’s travels, but the work in its nuances has made its nest inside the house – two large mirrors of the exhibition house are actually parts of the video installation that was on display in the museum in 1997. Now the installation mirrors and video meet again. 20 years have passed and the artist has reached another place on his road from Tartu.

Jaan Toomik (b 1961) is a video, painting and performance artist. From 1985–1991 he studied painting at the Estonian National Institute of Art and currently works as a professor in the Estonian Academy of Arts. He started participating in exhibitions with Neo-Expressionist paintings and moved to location-specific performance and installation that he recorded on video. Currently Toomik works with paintings and produces pieces in short film format. He has participated in many major international contemporary art exhibitions.

WHERE TO MOVE?

PS. Tanel Rander has proposed an intriguing association: TOOMIK’s mirror cube in the river was the seed that grew into the shopping centre Plasku.


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Scene from Jaan Toomik’s video The Road to São Paolo. Art Museum of Estonia


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IS IT ART NOW? Both the museum and its visitor have certain expectations and preferences for the kind of art to be displayed in the exhibition hall. As if the museum had some sort of standard to be adhered to in both form and substance. Breaching fair practice could damage the reputation of art further. Could a certain kind of art be considered unfit for presentation in a museum? What would be examples of such art? What could be the museum’s position towards the mainstream and the alternative art phenomena that refuses to submit to definitions – which should be preferred? What are the grounds for detecting that today’s weirdo could be tomorrow’s celebrity? Even if street art has such a visible presence in the City of Tartu, one could ask: is it suitable for a museum as the bearer of high cultural values to present a sub-cultural art phenomenon? MA


MINAJALYDIA IS IT ART NOW? 2007/2014 STENCIL CLONE, IMAGE ON WALL, APPROX. 25 × 50 PRIVATE COLLECTION

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EDWARD VON LÕNGUS KOIDULA/TAMMSAARE 2010 STENCIL CLONE, IMAGE ON CANVAS, 220 × 150 TARTU ART MUSEUM MÜRA2000 INTERIOR DESIGN 2014 AEROSOL, STENCIL Courtesy of the artist

The question IS IT ART NOW? is MINAJALYDIA’s ironic flick on the nose with which she directs attention to the traditional forms and categories of art history, as if drafting a street art piece as a still life would auto­ matically win approval. “Signed, sealed, delivered – I’m Yours!”.

IS IT ART NOW?

EDWARD VON LÕNGUS’ piece KOIDULA/TAMMSAARE, by now a part of Tartu Art Museum’s collection, has grown out of the unofficial visual culture that continues to be unacceptable to a certain part of society as real and serious art. The street artist MÜRA2000 has decided to simulate the disobedience and randomness of the environment where the aforementioned piece originally existed. Yet MÜRA2000’s simulation acknowledges the unnatural, artificial essence of the context and accepts its incompetence in solving the problem. The seeming jux­ taposition of fading and non-fading art does not work substantially and the correct solution continues to be somewhere around the corner. MA


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MinaJaLydia is one of Tartu’s most prominent street artists whose double identity is revealed markedly in her alias (‘MeAndLydia’) as she is simultaneously one and the other. MinaJaLydia deals with the visualisation of various codes, communication disorders and error aesthetics. Whether those be binary code, Morse code, Braille or ornaments or patterns in their regularity. As for herself, she writes: “If Me spends her days solving everyday problems in the style of Kinder, Küche, Kirche, then Lydia spends her nights sketching, working in the art studio or sneaking around the streets spraypainting images on the walls.” Edward von Lõngus is one of Tartu’s most prominent street artists whose works have been accompanied by great noise and economic success. The combined Tammsaare/Koidula ensemble could be considered one of the most iconic works of Estonian street art that has found plenty of feedback both on the Internet and in the press. Lõngus himself has listed his roles as follows: practicing anarchist, revolutionary, self-made outlaw, folk artist, free radical, anti-terrorist, poetic vandal. MÜRA2000 is a street artist active in Tartu whose first stencil attempts emerged in the second half of 2004. This artist has low productivity yet has treated the urban environment as his canvas already for ten years. Focal interests are noise and disintegration in its purposefulness and essence that can more loosely be termed the aesthetics of dissolution. Müra2000 combines ready-made items and stencils.


MinaJaLydia stencil Is It Art Now?. Photo: MinaJaLydia

IS IT ART NOW?

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ROOM OF HORRORS. WHAT ARE WE SO SCARED OF?


FLO KASEARU’s series of drawings entitled FEARS OF A MUSEUM DIRECTOR is simultaneously funny and thought-provoking. The artist has mapped and visualised a bunch of nightmare scenarios that might torment the nights of a director responsible for the flawless progress of a museum. A total of 26 possible catastrophes befalling the museum have been drawn. True, some fears are less likely to come to fruition than others: for example, a UFO landing on the roof of the leaning building might undoubtedly happen any minute, but the possibility that the museum is relocated to Raadi seems more tangible and therefore scarier in comparison.

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One of the main causes of fear is certainly lack of knowledge about the future and the resulting unease. Lack of knowledge gives birth to speculations and the imagining of all possible events. The question is in how far to let one’s paranoias soar – should one stop at the fear of the future shaped by politicians, parties and officials with the predicted lifespan of four years or go all the way out to force majeure that has no other antidote but evacuation…

ROOM OF HORRORS. WHAT ARE WE SO SCARED OF?

The museum plucks works of art out of their everyday use and encloses them safely in vaults to preserve until the end of the world. Yet how does one ensure the preservation of works when anything could happen – from the flood to a new minister? How strong and secure must an institution be for its director to sleep soundly through the night?


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Flo Kasearu’s drawing Fears of a Museum Director. Lightning


Flo Kasearu’s drawing Fears of a Museum Director. Merger With Kumu

ROOM OF HORRORS. WHAT ARE WE SO SCARED OF?

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Flo Kasearu’s drawing Fears of a Museum Staff. Rael Artel Gallery


Flo Kasearu’s drawing Fears of a Museum Director. Godzilla

ROOM OF HORRORS. WHAT ARE WE SO SCARED OF?

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Flo Kasearu Fears of a Museum Director. A Bomb. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. A Nuclear Bomb. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. A Strike. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Gone With the Wind. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Tartu Art Museum to Raadi!. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Mold. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Ice Age. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. 9/11. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Street Art. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Grafitti. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Fell Over!. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Jungle. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Support Pillar. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Warning: Building May Collapse!. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist

Fears of a Museum Director. Godzilla. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Merger With Kumu. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. New Wing. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. A Fire. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. A Flood. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of the Museum Staff. Rael Artel Gallery. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. A UFO. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Volcanic Eruption. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Lightning. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Tornado. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. War. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. New Highway. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. For Sale! 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist Fears of a Museum Director. Unchanged. 2014. Pencil on paper, 50 × 65 cm. Courtesy of the artist


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WHAT SHOULD BE THE VISUAL IDENTITY OF AN ART MUSEUM? An art museum is a professional institution operating with images and various forms of expression by visual culture. It is a place for accumulating thousands of visual communication positions. What should be the visual identity of the institution itself? How should an art museum define itself in the corporate world where every institution, enterprise and organisation in the public sphere fights for attention and market share? How should a museum manage its presence in the urban space, in the media, on its own territory? Does the experience of working with images provide the museum with an advantage or do traditions actually hold it back? What kind of images, symbols and rhetoric should an art museum use to position itself in the society? What kind of language and rhetorical mode to choose? Who to depict as one’s listener – or even dialogue partner?


It is difficult to answer a future-oriented question like “WHAT SHOULD BE THE IDENTITY OF AN ART MUSEUM” without first acquainting oneself with the specific institution’s context and history. Thus this portion of the exhibition deals with Tartu Art Museum publications through history, employing the classic chronological structure to provide one possible view of the museum’s visual identity in various decades.

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While the first decades were characterised predominantly by posters with simple text, the end of the 1950s started seeing the addition of reproductions of the works on display. A more abrupt shift came at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s when a large number of innovative designers joined the Estonian poster art scene. This period is also the most bountiful in the Tartu Art Museum poster archive – the authors prove, primarily through staged photos, that an exhibition poster need not be a mere information page consisting of text and reproduced art. The archive has a great representation of joint works by VILLU JÄRMUT and ENN KÄRMAS and also from authors such as SILVER VAHTRE, MARGUS HAAVAMÄGI and JÜRI KAARMA. However, the golden age ended with the 1990s and in economic restrictions posters returned to their one-dimensional approach, using the earlier tradition to primarily use art reproduction in exhibition poster design. In addition to posters, the exhibition also displays museum logos, exhibition rosters, self-portrait posters, and catalogues. Compared to posters, the heydays of Tartu Art Museum catalogues remains in a slightly earlier period – the 1970s. This assessment is based on the design aspect and relies mainly on the works of Kaljo Põllu. It was he who designed many of the catalogues of that period and his copious work means that the catalogues issued between the second part of the 1960s to the middle of the 1970s form a holistic and artistically intriguing ensemble that deserves a separate exhibition. Another significant period in catalogue development is the 2000s when the museum managed to produce a large number of in-depth catalogues/ monographs filled with plenty of pictures. The visitors can give the catalogues on the shelves a closer look if so desired but only on-site

WHAT SHOULD BE THE VISUAL IDENTITY OF AN ART MUSEUM?

Tartu Art Museum was founded in 1940, but the printing of publications was hampered in its first years due to both political and economic circumstances. The museum’s poster archive includes just one poster from 1949 and, instead of catalogues, exhibitions were accompanied by modest rosters. Afterward the number of exhibitions continued to grow along with the publication of catalogues and posters.


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and with the request that every publication finds its correct position in the exhibition afterward. Knowing the visual history of art museum publications enables de足 signing the future reality with greater awareness, implementing the best the previous creations had offered and trying to avoid any past mistakes. Have a wonderful visit! H-LK


1940s: Exhibition of Russian and Soviet Art. 1949. Designer unknown. 61 x 43 cm. Tartu Art Museum

WHAT SHOULD BE THE VISUAL IDENTITY OF AN ART MUSEUM?

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1960s: Exhibition of works by Konrad M채gi. 1968. Designer unknown. 83 x 55.5 cm. Tartu Art Museum

1950s: Exhibition of applied art from Soviet Latvia and Lithuania. 1956. Designer unknown. 83.5 x 60 cm. Tartu Art Museum

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WHAT SHOULD BE THE VISUAL IDENTITY OF AN ART MUSEUM?

1980s: Endel K천ks. 1987. Designer: Margus Haavam채gi. 88.5 x 59 cm. Tartu Art Museum

1970s: Solo exhibition by Juhan Muks. 1973. Designer unknown. 84 x 59.5 cm. Tartu Art Museum

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2000s: Estonian Artists’ Group. 2005. Designer: Peeter Paasmäe. 59.5 x 42 cm. Tartu Art Museum

1990s: Permanent exhibition. Estonian art. 1999. Designer: Tiina Viirelaid. 59.5 x 35.5 cm. Tartu Art Museum

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HOW TO ACT IN CASE OF AN EARTHQUAKE?


JAANUS SAMMA FILTER 2007/2014 INSTALLATION (SOUND, INSTALLATION), VARYING DIMENSIONS Courtesy of the artist

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We have seen in the movies how everything abruptly starts to shake in the room – shelves sway, lamps swing, objects clatter into each other and at first the people in the room have no idea what is going on. Suddenly they realise – an earthquake! JAANUS SAMMA’s installation FILTER plays with the same effect – at certain intervals the majestic crystal chandelier starts to flicker, vibrate and clamour ominously while the speakers play oppressive bass. Without warning all the lights go out. In the last hall of the second floor in Tartu Art Museum where everything already leans a bit, the people in the room might have even greater difficulty comprehending the situation – is the ground shaking or is the house about to fall down?

Jaanus Samma (b 1982) graduated from the Master’s program in Fine Arts at the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2009 and is currently acquiring a PhD in Arts and Design at the same institution since 2011. He has also continued his education in France (2006–2007). He focuses mostly on the changing nature of relationships in homosexuality in his works, but his pieces also address other general human problems. In 2013 Jaanus Samma was declared the winner of the grand prix and audience favourite titles of the contemporary art award Köler Prize. According to the jury, Samma merges in his works a caring and spirited discussion of the issue with intellectual study and the captivating creation of images.

HOW TO ACT IN CASE OF AN EARTHQUAKE?

As with every tremor, the small earthquake in the exhibition hall is unpleasant and unnerving. Since we have no idea whether it passes quickly and without major damage or whether the epicentre is directly below our feet, taking everything apart stone by stone, we must remain calm and accept our fate. Or should we act? Still, there is no need for concern – in a few moments it’s all over and the chandelier lights up as if nothing had happened. Hopefully every visitor has enough patience to wait for this unexpected, yet undoubtedly spectacular moment.


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Photo of Jaanus Samma’s installation Filter


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MUST EVERYTHING BE EXPLAINABLE THROUGH WORDS?


JEVGENI ZOLOTKO LUKEWARMTH. PROLOGUE 2013 INSTALLATION (WATERCOLOUR ON PAPER, VIDEO, SOUND, INSTALLATION), VARYING DIMENSIONS Courtesy of the artist

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Jevgeni Zolotko (b 1983) is an artist living and working in Tartu who graduated from the Department of Sculpture at Tartu Art College in 2008 and received his Master’s degree from the Estonian Academy of Arts. In 2011 he became the first to win the Köler Prize for Art. In his works, Zolotko experiments with various materials, using personal experiences to create narratives that engage the room as a whole.

MUST EVERYTHING BE EXPLAINABLE THROUGH WORDS?

What is that which is not black nor white, nor bad nor good, nor cold nor warm, nor this nor the other? In recent years, JEVGENI ZOLOTKO has dealt precisely with studies of neutrality and gray areas. These are not scientific investigations but his attempts at perceiving and interpreting gray areas, unmapped zones and ambiguity with the methods of contemporary art. LUKEWARMTH. Prologue with its primary keywords of undefinability and lack of extremes moves in the same direction. The umwelt created in the exhibition hall says as little as possible; on the one hand it directs and on the other hand restricts the viewer’s thoughts. Perhaps LUKEWARMTH. Prologue need not be defined too closely as it would be an attempt to define the undefinable.


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View towards Jevgeni Zolotko’s installation Lukewarmth. Prologue. Photo: Indrek Grigor


View towards Jevgeni Zolotko’s installation Lukewarmth. Prologue. Photo: Indrek Grigor

MUST EVERYTHING BE EXPLAINABLE THROUGH WORDS?

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HOW TO MANAGE IN A DISCOUNT MUSEUM? POVERTY MUSEUM? DIY MUSEUM? Many societies that consider themselves Western and that have valued art and culture as an integral part of the public sphere have now started to doubt its importance. Many governments have reduced allocations to culture and art, cut institutional budgets and semi-privatised the historically state-financed institutions. Many governments acting on the logic of neo-liberal capitalism do not share the values of previous generations and no longer want to bankroll cultural institutions that do not make a direct profit. How far can this policy go? Is it a temporary phenomenon or the start of something irreversible? How much can one cut? How to get by under the conditions of permanent frugality? What about extreme poverty? When will we reach the era where museum collections are cared for by a handful of fanatics who do not expect to be paid for their work? When do we have to transition to complete self-financing? When do we reach the situation where the state is so thin that no public service can be considered self-evident? What methods do we have to invent and what to store in order to survive?


TAMÁS KASZÁS AND ANIKÓ LORÁNT FAMINE FOOD 2011 INSTALLATION (DRAWING, WATERCOLOUR, PHOTO, TEXT, ORGANIC MATERIAL), VARYING DIMENSIONS Courtesy OF THE ARTISTS

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In their manifesto for FAMINE FOOD, the artists say that they have put together a selection of food recommendations for all that might turn out to be useful in the face of an impending food shortage. There have been plenty of famines and we have no reason to expect that their time has ended. Due to the impending economic and ecological catastro­ phe it will happen sooner or later. The installation by TAMÁS KASZÁS and ANIKÓ LORÁNT contains practical information about how to recognise and gather edible plants and prepare dishes from them. In order to survive in a potential emergency, we need to make preparations now. We need to be ready both physically and mentally for the situation where standards taken as norms need to be lowered significantly and where even the most elementary things run out.

Tamás Kaszás and Anikó Loránt are Hungarian artists who live and work in Budapest and make art under the name ex-artists’ collective. The central themes in their videos and installations are the impending ecological catastrophe and related survival strategies, autonomy, native know-how, fictional anthropology, and the conflict between theory and practice. Many of their works are experiments with nature survival, life in the woods, and foraging.

HOW TO MANAGE IN A DISCOUNT MUSEUM? POVERTY MUSEUM? DIY MUSEUM?

The installation FAMINE FOOD is a study by the Hungarian artist couple TAMÁS KASZÁS and ANIKÓ LORÁNT about what has been historically eaten in circumstances when there is nothing to eat. The installation in the form of a wall poster or message board combines various visual materials and introduces the viewer to all sorts of edible substances that might not rate the highest in the eyes of gourmet aficionados, but contain sufficient energy to keep one alive.


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Fragment of Tamás Kaszás’ and Anikó Loránt’s installation Famine Food. Photo: Tamás Kaszás


Fragment of Tamás Kaszás’ and Anikó Loránt’s installation Famine Food. Photo: Tamás Kaszás

HOW TO MANAGE IN A DISCOUNT MUSEUM? POVERTY MUSEUM? DIY MUSEUM?

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VITAL QUESTION. WHICH ARE THE WORKS THAT WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT? We invite all visitors to browse the Tartu Art Museum golden collection of works that one would like to see on permanent exhibition! Why not come to the museum every weekend and meet time and again the art we have known since childhood? Why not see, observe and cheer on the art that is familiar to us from literature or a history workbook, an exhibition, TV or art history lesson in secondary school? Just as one can listen to a record over and over again, it is possible to spend time now and again in the company of a painting or video. Which are the works at Tartu Art Museum that one could look at over and over? Why are precisely these works important? What is captivated in them? Why do some pictures become visual anchors for a cultural community and others do not? Are classics permanent or does every era have its classics – and when something is elevated to a classic, can we forget about it in peace? How do we get images that matter to a community? Are art classics created by artists or the audience?


When making this selection of classics, one of the most important criteria was the age of the pieces. The principle was that truths set and take hold only after a certain time period. Works become truly known and loved when they have seen several generations grow, when they have become part of our school curriculum. There is probably no doubt that such works include KRISTJAN RAUD’s drawings of the Son of Kalev, EDUARD WIIRALT’s graphics, NIKOLAI TRIIK’s magnificent portraits, KONRAD MÄGI’s vibrant landscapes, and the works of a great number of other Pallas greats – ALEKSANDER VARDI, EERIK HAAMER, KARL PÄRSIMÄGI, JOHANNES VÕERAHANSU, ELMAR KITS, etc.

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Later works are a more complex issue. Art becomes multi-layered, continues to introduce ever more disturbing themes and styles and is often incomprehensible to viewers who do not bother to or cannot delve more deeply. At the recent exhibition of ANK ‘64 in the Tallinn Art Hall I realised that the art of this group is still extremely popular. The works of ÜLO SOOSTER, JÜRI ARRAK, PEETER MUDIST et al. are also certainly popular. However, the works from the artists in the last three decades probably requires further deliberation. Art historians may have already given their assessment, but in order for newer art to become necessary and beloved by the audience, it must first become a part of the school curriculum. MJ

VITAL QUESTION. WHICH ARE THE WORKS THAT WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT?

Much of the exhibition consists of art from the first part of the last century – mainly because there it’s all clear. The cullender holds works that have a level of quality and are significantly important to art history and that have not lost their value despite changes in our understanding and taste. Also, this art is aesthetic and comprehensible, a treat for everyone who seeks emotional and visual enjoyment in art.


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LIST OF PAINTINGS, GRAPHICS AND SCULPTURES FROM TARTU ART MUSEUM COLLECTION: Peeter Allik. Art. 1994. Linocut, 86 × 61.5 cm Peet Aren. Portrait of Sister. 1912. Oil on canvas, 89.8 × 67 cm Jüri Arrak. Objects With a Tie. 1967. Assemblage on cardboard, 68.8 × 48.3 cm Paul Burman. Horses. Oil on plywood, 53.5 × 71.3 cm Eerik Haamer, Blind. 1938. Oil on canvas, 138.2 × 180.2 cm Andrus Johani. Winter Scene in Tartu (Liiva Street in Winter). 1940. Oil on canvas, 59.7 × 72.7 cm Oskar Kallis. The Sun. Maestoso. 1917. Pastel, 29.1 × 27 cm Miljard Kilk. Resting. 1978. Oil on canvas, 90.5 × 125 cm Elmar Kits. The Fiddler. 1943. Oil on canvas, 80.5 × 100 cm Elmar Kits. Recollections. 1946. Oil on plywood, 64.9 × 91.5 cm Jaan Koort. Girl’s Head. 1930. Weathered bronze, 27 × 23.5 × 18.5 cm

Malle Leis. Young Gardeners. 1968. Oil on canvas, 100 × 100.3 cm Kaarel Liimand. Boy in Red Trousers. 1938. Oil on canvas, 99.2 × 64.8 cm Karin Luts. Children in Confirmation. 1936. Painting, 69.7 × 59.9 cm Alice Kask. Dog. 2008. Oil on canvas, 145 × 164 cm Natalie Mei. Milde Pilde’s ‘Twin Portrait’. 1950s. Collage, photo, cigarette, pencil, 41.3 × 29.6 cm Konrad Mägi. Portrait of a Norwegian Girl. 1909. Oil on canvas, 60.3 × 48 cm Konrad Mägi. Saadjärv Lake – Äksi Church. 1923–1924. Oil on canvas, 57.7 × 68.5 cm Konrad Mägi. Capri Motif. 1921–1922. Oil on canvas, 83 × 90 cm Peeter Mudist. Twin Portrait With Pocket Folio. 1975. Oil on canvas, 102.5 × 95 cm Hando Mugasto. Blind People. 1931. Coal, 53.3 × 41.5 cm Villem Ormisson. Still Life With Painted Eggs. 1914–1918. Oil on canvas, 61.5 × 51 cm Enn Põldroos. Self-Portrait. 1967. Oil, collage on cardboard, 59.5 × 53 cm

Endel Kõks. In a Cafe. 1940. Oil on plywood, 56.7 × 51.4 cm

Kaljo Põllu. World Like a Cauldron. From the series Tent People. 1974. Mezzotint, paper, 41.4 × 38.7 cm

Märt Laarman. Still Life (Guitar with Bottles). 1929. Oil on canvas, 84 × 67.2 cm

Kaljo Põllu. Legend. From the series Tent People. 1974. Mezzotint, paper, 35.8 × 48.7 cm

Ants Laikmaa. Italian Boy. 1912. Pastel, 29 × 19.4 cm

Karl Pärsimägi. Farmhouse Room. 1935. Oil on canvas, 65.5 × 81 cm

Ants Laikmaa. Tunisian Maiden (Bedouin in White). 1914. Pastel, 40.1 × 34.5 cm

Kristjan Raud. Son of Kalev Fighting the Sorcerers. 1926. Coal sketch, 83.5 × 116.7 cm

Leonhard Lapin. Suprealistic Köler XVII. 2001. Collage on wood, 61 × 59 cm

Kristjan Raud. Son of Kalev Throwing Stones. 1935. Pencil, 27.8 × 35.8 cm


Ferdi Sannamees. Figure of a Woman. 1924. Weathered bronze, 80 × 18.5 × 17.5 cm Lembit Sarapuu. Station Master. 1976. Oil on canvas, 73 × 67 cm Ülo Sooster. White Egg. 1968–1970. Oil on cardboard, 47 × 67.5 cm Ülo Sooster. Colourful Junipers. 1966. Oil on plywood, 54 × 77.8 cm Anton Starkopf. Man With Hammer. 1925. Weathered bronze, 82.5 × 27 × 24 cm Nikolai Triik. Finnish Landscape. 1914. Oil on canvas, 82 × 57.3 cm Nikolai Triik. Portrait of V. Martna (V. Triik). 1910. Oil on canvas, 101.8 × 75.7 cm

Eduard Wiiralt. Woman in Red Dress. 1931. Monotype, paper, 50 × 43.5 cm

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Eduard Wiiralt. Tiger. 1937. Vernis mou, paper, 29.7 × 39.8 cm Eduard Wiiralt. Mon Paris. 1926. Etching, paper 31.7 × 41.3 cm Eduard Wiiralt. Absinth Drinkers. 1933. Wood engraving, paper, 21.4 × 16 cm Eduard Wiiralt. Female Nude Reclining. 1933. Wood engraving, paper, 20.1 × 26.2 cm Eduard Wiiralt. Preacher. 1932. Litography, paper, 74 × 46.9 cm Ülo Õun. Nuclear Physicist. 1969. Gypsum, paint, 39.5 × 15 × 17 cm

Nikolai Triik. Howling Dog. 1921. India ink, sepia, coal, 39 × 30.7 cm

Ado Vabbe. The Harlequin. 1924. Watercolour, 38.5 × 27.3 cm Ado Vabbe. Composition With Figures and a Marionette. Approx. 1915–1919. Gouache, watercolour, India ink, 29.8 × 22.5 cm Ado Vabbe. Composition. India ink, watercolour, 25.5 × 34.3 cm Ado Vabbe. Composition. Approx. 1915–1919. Watercolour, India ink, 25.8 x 23.6 cm Aleksander Vardi. Montmartre at Night. 1938. Oil on canvas, 80.5 × 99.3 cm Toomas Vint. Disturbed Landscape. 1973. Oil on canvas, 91.8 × 114.8 cm Johannes Võerahansu. Landscape With Geese. 1938. Oil on canvas, 117 × 130 cm Eduard Wiiralt. Berber Girl With Camel. 1940. Vernis mou, paper, 49 × 39.6 cm

VITAL QUESTION. WHICH ARE THE WORKS THAT WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT?

Ado Vabbe. In a Cafe. 1918. Oil on canvas, 86.5 × 88 cm


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ABOUT DECISIONS Should one decide and how? What are the consequences of a decision? Are they immediately visible and tangible or does every decision come with a multitude of unforeseeable or even invisible effects in the shadows? How to decide? What to consider when making decisions? Should one decide now or postpone it? How long can one postpone it? How is decision-making related to responsibility? Should the decider bear responsibility for the decisions? Who is in fact responsible for collective decisions? What kind of decisions are unavoidable? Should decisions be rational, emotional or intuitive? Should decisions always be linked with choices? Or vice versa? Does decision-making require wisdom, bravery, belief or taste? Is an unsure decision worse than a sure decision? What are the risks that accompany foolish decisions? What happens when nothing is decided?


JOHANNA BILLING WHERE SHE IS AT 2001 VIDEO, 7 MIN 35 S Courtesy of the artist

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JOHANNA BILLING’s video WHERE SHE IS AT has two main characters – the idyllic resort lined with functionalist Nordic architecture and a girl in a bikini who cannot seem to find the courage to dive from the high platform into the water. The video piece has no beginning or end – it can be watched at any moment, because it is more like a mental state or emotional image, not a specific narrative. The sleepy summer vacation atmosphere of pretty much nothing apart from relaxation intertwined and juxtaposed with the girl who tensely doubts herself and her abilities. To jump or not to jump? Or to jump? Or rather not?

Johanna Billing (b 1973) is a Swedish artist who lives and works in Stockholm. She graduated from the Konstfack Art College of Stockholm. The central keywords to Billing’s works are collective activities, various cooperation forms, sense of community, and joint creative initiatives.

ABOUT DECISIONS

The inner struggle inside the head of a girl standing alone on top of the diving tower is visible to the naked eye and her decision undoubtedly has physical consequences. A somewhat similar feeling can be gained by peering down from the disrupted room of the third floor of Tartu Art Museum. Height causes anxiety and an unknown body of water is certainly not the safest place for a landing. How would you decide? What should be done? To jump or not to jump? What would you do?


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Scene from Johanna Billing’s video Where She Is At


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ABOUT DECISIONS

Scene from Johanna Billing’s video Where She Is At


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CYPRIEN GAILLARD THE LAKE ARCHES 2007 VIDEO, 1 MIN 37 S Courtesy of THE GALLERY BUGADA & CARGNEL (PARIS)

It is painful to watch CYPRIEN GAILLARD’s video THE LAKE ARCHES. The artist has explained the background to the work with the phrase ‘a field trip gone bad’ – a couple of young gentlemen have decided to spend some quality time on the bank of a body of water somewhere near Paris and dive boldly into the water while a grandiose building complex lurks in the background. This is definitely not an official swimming beach and the depressed area that has filled with water is in between the massive abandoned architectural ensemble. The unwitting boys jump into the water that is merely to their knees and are properly hurt. This was a stupendously stupid decision. The video is about foolish decisions, excessive enthusiasm and the possible consequences. On the other hand, you can also say the piece also talks about ruins and the diminishing of former glory. Solid, stable public structures that seem permanent, fade slowly away and the cause of their dilapidation is the shift in public interest. Maybe we are already standing in the ruins of a museum? THE LAKE ARCHES is displayed on the last floor of the museum with a view towards the Emajõgi River and the Arch Bridge from where foolhardy youths at times jump headfirst into the water, straight at the remnants of the former Stone Bridge that litter the river bed.

Cyprien Gaillard (b 1980) is a French artist who lives and works in Paris and Berlin. He graduated from the University of Art and Design Lausanne in Switzerland in 2005. Gaillard’s art deals with humanities impact on nature and the issues of architecture, destruction and decay. Gaillard who works with sculpture, painting, photo, video and public space has proved himself as an internationally important artist.


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ABOUT DECISIONS

Scene from Cyprien Gaillard’s video The Lake Arches


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Scene from Cyprien Gaillard’s video The Lake Arches


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Jo Nurm’s collection How to Wear Black? for museum staff. Photo: Kaisa Eiche


Jo Nurm’s collection How to Wear Black? for museum staff. Photo: Kaisa Eiche

HOW TO WEAR BLACK?

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Jo Nurm’s collection How to Wear Black? for museum staff. Photo: Kaisa Eiche


HOW TO WEAR BLACK?

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This publication accompanies the exhibition Is This the Museum We Wanted? at Tartu Art Museum between 23.01–16.03.2014.

Exhibition guide

Director and exhibition curator: Rael Artel

Text authors: Marika Agu (MA), Rael Artel (all unmarked texts), Mare Joonsalu (MJ), Hanna-Liis Kont (H-LK)

Co-curators: Marika Agu, Mare Joonsalu, Hanna-Liis Kont

Editor and concept author: Rael Artel

Translator: Mario Pulver Participating artists: Johanna Billing, Cyprien Gaillard, Toril Johannessen, Flo Kasearu, Tamás Kaszás and Anikó Loránt, Kristi Kongi, Jo Nurm, Dan Perjovschi, Jaanus Samma, Jaan Toomik, Jevgeni Zolotko

Language editor: Paul Emmet Graphic design: Jaan Evart

Artists participating in Marika Agu’s curatorial project: Edward von Lõngus, MinaJaLydia, Müra2000 Mare Joonsalu’s choice of artists from the Tartu Art Musem collection: Peeter Allik, Peet Aren, Jüri Arrak, Paul Burman, Eerik Haamer, Andrus Johani, Oskar Kallis, Miljard Kilk, Elmar Kits, Jaan Koort, Endel Kõks, Märt Laarman, Ants Laikmaa, Leonhard Lapin, Malle Leis, Kaarel Liimand, Karin Luts, Alice Kask, Natalie Mei, Konrad Mägi, Peeter Mudist, Hando Mugasto, Villem Ormisson, Enn Põldroos, Kaljo Põllu, Karl Pärsimägi, Kristjan Raud, Ferdi Sannamees, Lembit Sarapuu, Ülo Sooster, Anton Starkopf, Nikolai Triik, Ado Vabbe, Aleksander Vardi, Toomas Vint, Johannes Võerahansu, Eduard Wiiralt, Ülo Õun Hanna-Liisa Kont’s choice of graphical designers from Tartu Art Museum archive and library: Reet Amberg, Jüri Arrak, Eduard Brandt, Liivi Ehmann, Margus Haavamägi, Mikk Heinsoo, Villu Järmut, Tiit Jürna, Jüri Kaarma, Arno Kalberg, Enno Kaljas, Jüri Kass, Inge Kudisiim, Enn Kärmas, Kaja Kärner, Marco Laimre, Leonhard Lapin, Emil Lausmäe, Sylvia Liiberg, Gunnar Lilles, Paul Luhtein, Ilmar Malin, Olav Maran, Leppo Mikko, Peeter Paasmäe, Varmo Pirk, Kaljo Põllu, Vaike Pääsuke, Matti Ruljand, Andres Rõhu, Tiiu Tepandi, Malev Toom, Silver Vahtre, Lüüdia Vallimäe-Mark, Tiina Viirelaid, Tõnis Vint Technical implementation: Arvi Kuld, Siim Lillo, Kristjan Nagla, Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo, Tõnu Tunnel, Jevgeni Zolotko Volunteers: Hanna-Liis Kont, Egle Pärnaku, Anna-Maria Saar Works loaned from: the Art Museum of Estonia (special thanks to Liisa Kaljula), Gallery Bugada & Cargnel (Paris) (special thanks to Camille Azaïs and Marie-Claire Groenick), Tartu University Art Museum (thanks to Janika Anderson and Kristiina Tiideberg), Tartu University Library (thanks to Moonika Teemus) Supporters: A Le Coq, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estplast Tootmine OÜ (special thanks to Ferenc Traksler), Henkel Eesti (special thanks to Herdis Olmaru), Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Rete Leetna and Kalle Kolde, the City of Tartu

© Tartu Art Museum, text and photo authors, 2014 ISBN 978-9985-9765-9-3 (Estonian version, printed) ISBN 978-9949-9517-0-3 (English version, pdf)

Is This The Museum We Wanted?  

"Is This The Museum We Wanted?" is a brief guide into DIY museology based on true stories and outstanding artworks. The publication accompan...