TALLINN, ESTONIA
2003/05

Exhibited at:
CCA, Tallinn, Estonia 2005, Tricht/Linn/Burg
Also published in the exhibition catalouge Practices of Tallinn by CCA, Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia

 

 

The Tallinn photographs follow on from the series Winning a battle, losing the war which dealt with the transformation of Swedish society and the welfare state which had been formed to a great extent by social democratic politics. That series showed closed and abandoned institutional buildings in Sweden and was a document of the downsizing of the welfare state, the erosion of the Swedish folkhem. Estonia, a former eastern colony was undergoing an even greater system change after the country’s independence from the USSR. Up until the country’s independence in1990, Estonia had been part of the former eastern bloc, and all borders with non-communist countries in the Baltic region had been closed, with only a minimum of communication with neighbouring states. In recent times much has changed and Swedish banks have become established on Estonia’s real estate market, given generous loans to Estonian homebuyers, and made a maximum profit out of it. Later on this led to financial crises for Estonia and other countries in the Baltic region. Sweden became visible in a new way within the global market. What can this tell us about the Swedish identity and the welfare state as it functions today?

This is the background to this series of images. Focus lies on the unavoidable conflicts between intention and practical function, idealism and pragmatism: the ideal of Modernism as a liberating force, a source of order, and the realities of its misuse within oppressive systems. It might seem as if this is a simple and easily read situation, but things are more complex than they initially seem. There are many internal conflicts between the Estonian population and the Russian minorities who live in the suburbs. What is their identity in the new post-communist society? What sense of connection do they have in Estonia today and who represents them? The controversial moving of the monument of the unknown Russian soldier to a new memorial site, raised issues that are very current and very important, but not easily solved. The representations of the old power order such as glorifying memorials have been removed, the old auditorium in the former Estonian Politburo Headquarters is now used as a storage room, and intolerance and suspicion towards the Russian population in the suburbs is widespread.

Some of the photographs from the series were presented together with a text in the Practices of Tallinn catalogue that the CCA published as a compendium for the exhibition Tricht/Linn/Burg, from 2005. The selection of photographs shown was slightly different from that shown in the catalogue. 
The exhibition Tricht/Linn/Burg was put together by curator Liina Siib and coordinator Mare Pedanik at the CCA and was an international art project that took place in public spaces in three cities during 2005: Maastricht, Salzburg and Tallinn. The partners were Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht in the Netherlands (curator: Hinrich Sachs) Salzburger Kunstverein in Austria (curator: Hildegund Amanshauser)

This co-operative project focused on European towns and cities that have attracted mass tourism and have consequently become objects of real estate speculation, due to their historical and architectural structures and “intact city centres”. All three cities are concrete examples of this. The manner in which both phenomena affect the lives of city inhabitants was the major theme of the project. Tricht/linn/burg was a multi-disciplinary project with an emphasis on visual arts, and involved music, performances, theory, new media and architecture.

 

 

 

 

 

Swedish text >