From Explosion to Expanse. Estonian Contemporary Photography 1991–2015


Raekoja plats 18


Focusing on contemporary lens-based art, From Explosion to Expanse is the first major exhibition that follows the development of photography into one of the most prominent and versatile media in Estonian art since the beginning of the nineties.


Success stories of contemporary art today are often linked to photography and photographic education; camera-based work has an advantage because of its contemporary, potent visual language. The aim of the overview of the developments in the past 25 years is to tease out the key pointers and themes in camera-based art as a contemporary medium in Estonia, drawing examples from the works of 45 artists. The most significant themes are memory and the construction of memory, the construction and study of social and sexual roles, photography as a medium that carries a political charge, and photography as a construer and presenter of the visual and the aesthetic world.


In all the works the artist and the camera are active and self-conscious. „Contemporary photographic art is primarily related to people’s identities and self-presentation in a social and political context. When creating an image, the artist ought to be bold and precise, because the photographic image has an ability to influence our perception of seemingly ordinary reality or the way we imagine our ideals,“ explains Anneli Porri, curator of the exhibition.


The period of 20-odd years covered by the exhibition has seen huge changes take place in both art and society. The beginning of the 1990s can be compared to an explosion: a sharp transition in public life brought with it rapid developments in unexpected directions also in art, including changes in the way exhibitions were organised and curated. Having been exiled from the art halls and galleries until then, photography was the quickest to react to these changes and became the herald of a new aesthetic, the restorer of discarded memories, a mirror to the new society. Expanse, by contrast, is primarily a metaphor for the broadened horizons of our contemporary art scene, for equal opportunities, and for the international field of contemporary art where any artist can find their own path.


„As a museum of art and an institution of memory we have a task to draw attention to significant shifts in the art scene, and the 1995 Saaremaa biennal Fabrique d’Histoire was something that undoubtedly caused one such shift. We decided to celebrate that spectacular event that in mid-nineties’ Estonia had an incredible scope, and that powerfully brought contemporary art in its modern sense to Estonia’s art scene, using predominantly the medium of photography. We would now like to offer to the public an overview of what has been happening in photographic art in the last 20 years,“ sais Rael Artel, Director of Tartmus.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication containing interviews and essays, edited by Anneli Porri and designed by Jaan Evart. Annika Toots writes about photography as a medium of memory; an interview with Eve Kiiler provides emotional and factual background for the artists and the context of the works in the last 30 years. Marge Monko and Hanno Soans discuss the author’s position in contemporary photography.


Various lectures and study programmes for different age groups will be taking place at Tartu Art Museum during the exhibition.


Artists: Avangard (Sandra Jõgeva & Margus Tamm), DeStudio (Herkki-Erich Merila & Peeter Laurits), Kaisa Eiche, Dénes Farkas, F.F.F.F. (Kristi Paap, Kaire Rannik, Berit Teeäär, Ketli Tiitsar, Maria Valdma), JIM (Johannes Säre, Iti Connor, Maido Juss), Toomas Kalve, Eve Kiiler, Mari-Leen Kiipli, Paul Kuimet, Laura Kuusk, Mari Laanemets, Marco Laimre, Peeter Laurits, Ly Lestberg, Peeter Linnap & Jaanus Nõgisto, Arne Maasik, Herkki-Erich Merila & Arbo Tammiksaar, Marge Monko, Tanja Muravskaja, Krista Mölder, Katja Novitskova, Taavi Piibemann & Toomas Thetloff, Birgit Püve, Mark Raidpere, Piia Ruber, Piret Räni, Jaanus Samma & Alo Paistik, Liina Siib, Tiit Sokk, Andres Tali, Peeter Tooming & Carl Sarap, Laura Toots, Mare Tralla, Anna-Stina Treumund, Anu Vahtra & Na Kim, Tarvo Hanno Varres, Sigrid Viir, Mart Viljus, Toomas Volkmann, Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo.


Curator: Anneli Porri.


The exhibition was designed by Neeme Külm and the accompanying publication by Jaan Evart. The exhibition publication was produced in co-operation with Liilia Buschmann, Indrek Grigor, Eve Kiiler, Katrin Kivimaa, Andrus Laansalu, Marge Monko, Sten Ojavee, Erik Prozes, Vahur Puik, Rebeka Põldsam, Hanno Soans, Jaak Tomberg, Annika Toots, Marie Vellevoog, and edited by Anneli Porri.

Exhibition team: Marika Agu, Nele Ambos, Karl Feigenbaum, Urmo Teekivi, Kristel Sibul, Sten Ojavee, Julia Polujanenkova.


We are grateful for the support of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Outset Estonia, Art Museum of Estonia, Contemporary Art Museum Estonia, Photo Museum of the Tallinn City Museum, TV 3, Karin Karindi, Margus Punab, Tiina Põllu, Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, the Council of Gambling Tax, and all the supporters of the Hooandja campaign for Tallinn Photomonth 2015.

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Mari-Leen Kiipli. Unede kool. Värvifoto valguskastis, 80 × 90 cm, 2015. Kunstniku loal.