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Once again for love, not money

Brigita Reinert (4/2018)

Brigita Reinert takes an in-depth look at the anniversary year of the Tallinn Print Triennial.


20. IV–26. VIII 2018
"Puzzling over the Labyrinth – 50 years of the Tallinn Print Triennial"
Kumu Art Museum, 4th Floor, Wing B
Curators: Eha Komissarov, Elnara Taidre.

2. VI–15. VII 2018
"Cloudbusters – Intensity vs. Intention"
Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM)
Curator: Margit Säde.

The XVII Tallinn Print Triennial (TPT) was organised in 2018 after a four-year break to celebrate the triennial's 50th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia (EV100). The aim of the triennial was largely to make sense of the notion of "tradition" and this time because of the anniversary format there was no open call. In this exhibition, symbolically devoted to history of the triennial, that format was replaced by the inclusion of the winning works from previous years, which are part of the TPT collection.


The historical exhibition and the main exhibition

Kumu Art Museum showed the TPT retrospective exhibition with the title "Puzzling over the Labyrinth. 50 years of the Tallinn Print Triennial" (curators Eha Komissarov and Elnara Taidre). This well-designed exhibition provided a good overview of the 50-year history of TPT and its prize winners. In addition to the winning works there were other works, which though they had not won prizes, were indicators of the many important innovative directions the triennial has taken. The exhibition reflected the development of local printmaking within its socio-political and cultural contexts from the mid-20th century until today. The exhibition was accompanied by a comprehensive book about the history of the triennial. The exhibition and book formed a reflective discourse, which is certainly useful in the cultural-political positioning of TPT within our current biennialised space-time.

The triennial's main exhibition "Cloudbusters: Intensity vs. Intention" (curator Margit Säde) was shown at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM). Säde's curatorial position has often been more like that of an artist and is accompanied by a multi-layered allegory, ambivalence and humour, and adopts a playful approach, albeit with some kind of subterfuge coded within. Similar to "Image Drain", the main exhibition in the recent Tallinn Photo Month in 2017 (curator Anthea Buys), it seems that Säde's curatorial position was also like an independent creative work, characterised by the desire not to present a unified narrative. However, one of the exhibition's main features was empathy. As her foundation she had taken Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich's pseudo-scientific invention, the "cloudbuster", with which he conducted dozens of healing "cosmic orgone energy" experiments. The aim of the cloudbuster was to unleash orgone energy from the sky which would heal humankind of all kinds of ailments. Säde came upon this curious invention via Kate Bush's song and video "Cloudbusting" (1985).1

Within the exhibition context Säde used the concept of the cloudbuster primarily as a metaphor for unshakeable optimism and determination. Ideas such as dreamers and their utopias, science vs. pseudoscience, natural environment and digital technology, cloud data processing, the image and significance of the cloud in the collective imagination, spiritualism, magic and so forth, became the focus of attention. The exhibition was characterised by a wealth of images, narratives and stances, and topical issues were presented primarily through humour and poetry.

The curatorial concept also expressed the notion of how the networked virtual world enters everyday life in an increasingly physical way, and this was communicated as a foreboding vision about the immediate future of our world. One could also sense a weariness with digital technology and the new materialist desire to distance from the digitalised world and turn back to the physical body.2 In the broader scheme, the exhibition text emphasised that all the artistic stances are united by "searches for a more caring and human-centred society", and that the exhibition combined "the optimism of will with the pessimism of intellect, and intensity with intention", where "intensity" is "all kinds of deviations and unimaginable ideas, which our society generally condemns, ridicules, pathologises, rejects or just forgets".3 As a result, marginalised narratives and subjects were highlighted and the desire for alternative cultural phenomena and mystical streams to be legitimate was apparent. With the use of humour and the absurd, artists confronted notions that dominate in society and eccentric amateurism, sincerity and naivety were lifted into the limelight.


Nature and technology

In "Cloudbusters", technological utopianism, different visions of the future and a clear interest in digital technology were also quite apparent. In a number of cases the subject of technology was approached via traditional media. Lilli-Krõõt Repnau's etchings "Tüdruk nutitelefoni valguses" (Girl in Smartphone Light, 2017) and "Poiss nutitelefoni ja padjaga" (Boy with a Smartphone and Pillow, 2017) were good examples of how a traditional technique was applied to a current-day phenomenon. The digitalised information society and the accompanying "fear of missing out" (FOMO) were presented with a certain shift, where the depicted topical content was in apparent contradiction to the tradition of the medium.



Lilli-Krõõt Repnau
Boy with a Smartphone and Pillow
Etching, 40 x 50cm
Art Museum of Estonia



Repnau's works were complimented by German artist Andrea Büttner's visually abstract "Phone Etching" (2015), which had been made with a touch-screen program that records the patterns of movement made by the user's fingers. She had made visible the invisible traces of the movements of someone surfing the internet and turned them into a physical drawing, thus taking the cloud-dwelling internet community and associated monitoring to a new level. Suzanne Treister's series "Survivor (F)" (2016–2018), which because of its hippy aesthetic seemed more naïve and anachronistic, dealt with issues relating to the future technology and the fate of humanity in the context of the surveillance society. However, despite its very specific aesthetic approach, Treister's work was like a frightening premonition of an approaching dystopic future state where technology has once again assumed Big Brother's position of power.

Under cover of a certain poetic naivety the exhibition attempted to hint to the visitor about the problems in society that have occurred from the collision between the (rational, controlling) science and (cyber)technology and the (intensive and uncontrollable) natural environment. It was apparent that people cannot operate in the natural environment using purely scientific methods and technology and the focus has shifted to alternative methods and mystical practices that were understood as potential ways of improving human life. The boundaries and overlaps between science and non-science were also apparent, and were mostly presented through the exhibition's central project, which also provided the name for the exhibition, Christoph Keller's "Cloudbuster" (2003–...). This work, directly connected with Reich's story because it was based on his curious invention, was a light-hearted series of photographs of the process of building such a cloudbuster. Flirting with the idea of this pseudo-scientific invention, the artist made the "dreamer's" machine into something that appeared to exist and thereby created a homage to dreamers like Reich.


Occult choices

In the somewhat mystical atmosphere of the exhibition, an interest in healing, spiritism, magic and eastern philosophy was also apparent. One of the more memorable video works, "A família do Capitao Gervásio" (Captain Gervásio's Family, 2013/2014) by Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj, poetically described a Palmelo medium's notional journey that aimed to map the 20 astral cities floating above Brazil. This visually captivating work presented local postcard-like scenes of nature, images of Palmelo's spiritual mediums and modernist architecture from Brasilia, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. This hypnotising video focused on spiritism and the meaning of collectivism. The narrative was fascinating and the artists had succeeded in giving visual form to their dream-like utopias.

Marje Taska's watercolour, gouache and ink works from her series "Mütoloogilised maastikud" (Mythological Landscapes, 1985–1988) were also memorable in this thematic context. The appealing geometric landscapes, which depicted animals, birds and various mythical symbols, were simultaneously psychedelic and oriental, affirming once again the originality and aesthetic qualities of Tõnis Vint's school. Taska's work is characterised by a skilful use of colour and nuanced symbols, where orderliness that is typical of geometry meets rationality. These mantra-like, magical and colourful worlds breath a timeless spirituality – a stronger kind of existential influence.

The exhibition was multi-layered, ambivalent and playful, and in its form quite traditional, though in atmosphere almost occult. The emphasis was on everything that is invisible and secretive that cannot be communicated in the usual way. The format of the book and the way the texts and images worked together became important and one could sense a literary and linguistic focus in the selection of the works, for example, Robert Walser's manuscripts, which were combined with printmaker and filmmaker Klaus Lutz's book designs. In the context of the exhibition, this initially detail-rich space appeared to be the most cryptic element, but through the book format it successfully continued in the pattern of recent TPTs.

Despite the fact that the socio-political element was less than in previous years and that the main exhibition was dominated by a playful and ambivalent atmosphere created by the poetic works, the exhibition invited artists to ponder our contemporary socio-political and cultural environment, and direct attention to more marginal ideas and discourses. Many personal hopes and fears were revealed.

One of the more openly socio-political works was Badi Badalov's "For the Wall, for the World" (2016), which addressed social and political topics like the refugee situation, immigration, world geopolitical relations, racism and minority rights through various puns. Badalov's work was complimented by the room devoted to Mary Corita's colourful work, which also addressed a range of social issues. Corita's poster-style works successfully presented the political potential of printmaking as a technique – cheap and quickly distributable, making it possible for printmaking to be part of the political struggle for a better society.


The ideological space of TPT

In a world that is increasingly more homogenous culturally and economically, one of TPT's original functions ¬–¬ to put local art on the global "art map" – is disappearing. Therefore, it is possible in putting together an exhibition to allow oneself an in-depth or playful approach. Compared to previous triennials there is a sense of maturity and carefree; professional insecurity and the need to keep up with the global art scene is disappearing and there is confidence to approach the exhibition practice more playfully. There also seems to be less of a need to define oneself according to geopolitical self-awareness.

Taking into consideration the characteristic that has been identified in connection with the biennial format of providing the visitor with an experience (an expression of "experience economy"), and for which it has often been accused of being market-based entertainment, the 2018 TPT showed no ambition of providing entertainment or aspirations of seeking external effect. The exhibition policy did not seem to be seeking "contemporary phenomena"4 at all costs – but was fresh and not an imitation of global trends.

It would probably be relevant to pose the question of whether this triennial endeavoured to give meaning to or say something important about the local cultural sphere. It is certainly possible to find references to the Estonian cultural space within the context of the general theme. Considering that Estonian national identity today is very much centred on the image of the "cloud", one could notice, in the combined effect of the timing of the exhibition (EV100) and the theme, a certain critical note regarding Estonia and the subject of E-government. The press releases emphasised that the TPT main exhibition looks at the other side of tradition – the non-traditional – and asks how and in what way can one talk of tradition at a time when, as part of the state's "transformative digital society" start-up initiative, Estonia is offering e-residency to everyone who is interested.

In the exhibition context the selection of artists and their backgrounds was intriguing. Of course, if representing local artists is the aim, there is a danger that it can lead to a dead-end, which reinforces stereotypical perceptions about what the cultural identity of a particular cultural space is like –¬ or should be like – and more narrowly the typical art practices of that region. However, one possible weakness of the exhibition could be the rather weak foundation when speaking of the characteristics of local cultural research. TPT is a potential platform where active, creative dialogue between local and international artists could be developed, but in the main exhibition international artists were clearly in the majority.

Since the very beginning, the TPT has been important for developing collaboration and professional dialogue in the Baltics and a certain number of artists from each Baltic country was always included in the exhibition, but the 2018 triennial clearly did not follow this tradition. Artists from the Baltic States, considering their proximity, were noticeably under-represented¬ – one was able to find only two artists from Estonia and none from the other Baltic States.5 As a result the idea of popularising local contemporary art in the local socio-political context fell by the wayside.

On the other hand, this criticism is not completely warranted. It is important to acknowledge that the curator, as a creative person, does not need to consider art-political factors but primarily relies on her own creative vision. And despite the under-representation of artists from the local region, there was a fairly interesting selection of artists (including artists from Romania, Azerbaijan and Portugal), as well as writers and book designers. And they did not invest in "superstar" artists who produced work that is as aesthetically contemporary as possible, but sought interesting work that connected with the main theme and which would be refreshing for the local art public. The fact that the number of artists decreases with each triennial means that, on the one hand, there is greater focus on the concept and the artists, and a greater chance of an integrated whole, but on the other hand, the transition to this kind of in-depth, curated exhibition has narrowed the opportunities for artists to show their work publicly and has reduced the size of the exhibition, which in turn endangers the exhibition's cultural variety.

In line with expectations, the main exhibition also did not directly address issues surrounding printmaking as a medium. Most of the texts in the 2007 triennial question the relevance of printmaking as such, and without saying it aloud, presume that printmaking as a medium is outdated.6 In the context of 2018, printmaking is simply one modern day (reproducible) medium and as such the book format also gets attention. In addition, they had found clever ways of including as much traditional printmaking as possible.

What was also noticeable was that many artists were posthumously included in the exhibition. So, a certain desire to revive historical material was apparent, but the question also arose whether the exhibition was not becoming too much of a historical museum display. On this point, Elnara Taidre raised a highly relevant question: "Is TPT primarily a contemporary art event, which should focus on contemporary processes, and is the inclusion of earlier art justified, for example, with the aim of presenting the work of lesser known artists within the contemporary context? What should the relationship between new and old art be, so the exhibition does not become a museological display?"7 To some extent this approach undermined the TPT as a socially sensitive and reactive agent of contemporary art as well as its potential as an open discussion platform and resistance to the concept of biennials and triennials that operate on the idea of global "contemporaneity". On the other hand, this can be viewed as the curator's strategy or as a research approach, which was already typical of biennials in the 2000s, where historical material was also included.


The development of the TPT exhibition policy

The founding of TPT in 1968 has been seen as important in the local art and cultural context for many reasons, but one of the main aspects that has been emphasised within the Soviet context is its socio-political impact or potential as resistance against Soviet ideology. In the early years it was seen as a promoter of national self-identity, a creator of a Baltic regional identity and unity, and an event that strengthened local cultural ties. For example, Anders Kreuger, the curator of the Baltic Exhibition for the XIV TPT emphasised how the main aim of TPT in those days was to ensure that printmaking in the Baltic States would look "less Soviet" than printmaking in Russia or the other eleven socialist republics. Printmaking was successfully promoted as a part of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian cultural identity.8

In the context of the dominance of the ideological protectionism of the Soviet Union, which was also against the internationalisation, the internationalisation9 of art at the professional level and keeping up with the times, as it were, was extremely desirable. And because artists in the Soviet Union were prohibited from travelling outside the iron curtain, TPT was seen as an opportunity to establish links with the outside world. Though TPT did attract international attention and acclaim for Estonian and Baltic art, in reality active international collaboration only started after 1989, after the fall of the Berlin wall.10

In 1998, Eve Kask became president of TPT and a new curatorial platform was added to the open call and Baltic sections of the exhibition. The XI TPT was in many ways different to previous ones and opened up discussions about the future of the exhibition. For the first time there was a completely open international exhibition and from the submitted works participants were selected by an international panel, while a small Estonian–Latvian–Lithuanian exhibition was also retained.11 There was increasingly more emphasis on a thematic approach and in addition to the main exhibition there was a section for young artists.

The 1990s was a colourful period of internationalisation and globalisation for TPT. It was a time of newly opened borders and global biennial madness. The adjustment to digital technologies brought an amplified agenda of internationalisation to the triennial and a blurring of other "less important" cultural-political principles. Political changes in the 1990s, as well as cultural and technological developments, forced TPT to rethink its institutional role and significance on the local scene; the definition of printmaking was expanded and Walter Benjamin's idea of "reproducibility" was incorporated into the exhibition. Eha Komissarov has spoken about how the Baltic exhibition in the triennial during the 1990s was diminishing, and then in the 21st century it became incorporated into the international exhibition. The reason for this was twofold: due to the development of digital technologies the definition of printmaking changed considerably and the region was not producing sufficient numbers of the next generation of high-quality printmakers. As a result, TPT in the early 2000s moved its focus to "post-printmaking".12

The 2011 TPT raised questions regarding potential directions for the development of printmaking and the integration of new media, focusing on the issue of contemporary art during the time of the global financial crisis. This triennial was based on a completely new foundation -– there was no longer a separate exhibition curated by an Estonian curator, as had been the tradition since 1998, but a curator with international experience was sought, one who would curate the Baltic Exhibition and bring internationally known artists to Estonia. Baltic art was no longer separate and the work of Baltic artists was shown alongside the international selection.13 The main exhibition and curated exhibition were combined to form the main exhibition "For Love, Not Money" (curators Simon Rees, Eve Kask and Eha Komissarov) and this was accompanied by "hits" from the Ljubljana Printmaking Biennial in the satellite exhibition "Mapping" (compiled by Lilijana Stepaničič).

The latter was important because the ambitious Ljubljana Biennial, founded in 1955, has been repeatedly highlighted as an institutional exemplar for TPT. The biennial, one of the world's oldest continuously running international printmaking exhibitions, had the post-colonialist ambition of democratically bringing together a broad a selection of artists from both sides of the iron curtain and from the Third World, and at the same time actively remaining in dialogue with changes in the global art scene. According to Stepaničič, this was an indicator of Yugoslavian and Western collaborative policies, while at the same time signalling to the Soviet Union that Yugoslavian socialism differed from that in the USSR. The socialist world admired the openness of the biennial, the capitalist world admired its independence from market restrictions and the developing world admired its endeavour to strategically weave Yugoslavian art with the context of Western art.14 The list of award-winning artists at Ljubljana (mainly from North America and Western Europe) also clearly reflects how Yugoslavian art was combined with a Western art context.15

This same endeavour to demonstrate cooperation between the Baltics and the West can clearly be seen in TPT. The art-political ambitions in the early years of TPT of "placing" Estonian contemporary art onto the international "art map" for the first time and sustainably supporting its positive image and visibility in the eyes of other art professionals has been repeatedly emphasised. This emphasis on professional expansion internationally was especially intense immediately after 1989.

The 2014 TPT was a huge unified exhibition. "Literacy¬ – Illiteracy" (curator Maria Kjær Themsen) covered close to 2,000 m2 of exhibition space. The exhibition primarily dealt with the onslaught of digitalised media and the influence of screens, and studied the relationship between a transformative society and digital and printed media. That same year the young art historian and curator Marten Esko was chosen to be President of TPT and a generational change took place in the management of the triennial.

The 2018 XVII triennial was the first for this new management and a shift in the concept of the main exhibition is discernible. Probably one of the most eloquent factors in the organisational policy of the 2018 TPT is that for the first time there was no open call for the main exhibition. Elnara Taidre has said that this year's main exhibition at EKKM continues the direction that had been emerging in previous triennials. As a result, there is a noticeably reduced number of works on show, the curatorial position is stronger and the exhibition is more unified. The last two triennials justify Taidre talking of a change in direction; the extensive inclusion of new participating countries and media has been exchanged for a focused and intensive approach.

This thorough curatorial approach primarily reflects a professionalisation and demonstrates the conscious preferences of the TPT board. As does the fact that an Estonian curator and not an internationally known foreign curator (a pattern that is noticeable after recent TPTs and also the Estonian pavilion at the Venice Biennale) was selected to curate the main exhibition; the work of curators working locally is both valued and trusted.


The unbearable difficulty of naming

For a long time there have been problematic discussions about why TPT still contains the word "print"; for a long time already, the event has not been media specific. On occasion it has been suggested to the TPT team that they should change their name to Tallinn Triennial and continue without the media restrictions.16 What would happen if the printmaking triennial would become just a triennial? What would remain of an event that is founded on tradition and history if the traditions are ostensibly removed and the name forgotten? In taking on the role of modifier is it possible to go too far?

There is a similar issue with Tallinn Photomonth, which also started out as a media specific platform, but which over time has begun to communicate increasingly as a more general contemporary art biennial.17 It is no longer an issue of media – TPT has long moved on from the usual definition of printmaking – but instead it is an issue of maintaining the name for marketing purposes. In a world overwhelmed with competing products and services brand theory tells us that differentiation and identity creation is the solution to standing out from the crowd. To be successful in the global art world and market one needs a strong brand narrative.

In regard to TPT we can speak of both a national brand and an art brand, but TPT has also become a historical brand, and it is not surprising that they do not want to give it up easily. This dilemma reflects the extent of emotional attachment (as is common with brands) of the associated connotations with history (tradition, sustainability, national and cultural awareness, professionalism, international visibility and prestige, and so forth) and the extent to which people are prepared to improve or change this value package at this current time. Since brand value is directly connected to its wearer there is fear that the accumulated capital will be lost; starting from zero is difficult. What is important at this time of globalised biennales is that in local art awareness the reality of the TPT brand is not perceived to be more powerful than it actually is.

Several theorists are generally of the opinion that biennials and triennials have become dominant in the global art world. Peter Osborne, for example, sees the biennial as a dominant format and refers to a new institutional reality, "the exhibitionary complex" which apparently is no longer museological but based on the biennial.18 Biennials have been regarded as a postmodern phenomenon, whose primary aim is to increase the symbolic and actual (market) value of the exhibited work, and at the same time create brand value for itself and, in the context of the global art world, accumulate symbolic capital for the local art scene. This helps position a specific cultural location and the art world operating there on the international art scene and promote the internationalisation of local art and insert it into the international art market. Simon Sheikh has theorised how in geopolitical sense biennials are placed in an "eco and economic system" and despite local visitor numbers they do not receive the same attention at the international level. Sheikh claims that the biennial has become a brand that needs its own niche market, a specific identity and reputation, which helps to place it on the global art map.19


TPT as a brand

So, in this varied and constantly changing landscape of the international biennales that operate together with market forces, what makes TPT special? And what makes it stand out from other large-scale exhibitions (e.g. Tallinn Photomonth or the Baltic Triennial)?

Compared with Tallinn Photomonth and the Baltic Triennial, TPT is primarily different because of its long history and reputation. TPT and the homepage emphasise that all TPT exhibitions have had one unique feature which ensures the triennial stands out from among other similar events, and that is the specific, guaranteed representation of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian artists in the exhibition. In 2018 this differentiation was abandoned. And because the focus on media today is so anachronistic and unusual, one might say that TPT is unique precisely because of this residual idea of media specificity and considering current-day exhibition practices and methods, this could be employed to its advantage. Just as in the 2000s, the weariness from digital technology heralded the arrival of new materialism, which was a return to real, physical materials, it would not be surprising if an interest in a traditional media like printmaking resurfaced. For a few years now there has been noticeable interest of a return in the contemporary art scene, for example, a return to handicraft techniques and increased interest in the inclusion of applied art and ceramics.

While political resistance and the creation of a national identity were important aspects of TPT in the Soviet Union, what social role could TPT have today – now that printmaking lacks an obvious ideological and political function, and the next generation of printmakers is noticeably fewer and the nationalist principle has acquired a completely anachronistic and, within international contemporary art discourses, highly critical connotation? In the beginning, TPT's aims were to create a national and cultural identity, develop collaboration between artists, increase the visibility of Estonian contemporary art internationally and discuss the significance of printmaking; during recent years its social and cultural-political role, alongside the triennial's unspoken agenda of internationalisation, has become somewhat blurred.

The future of TPT depends on developments in the local and also the international art world, socio-political, cultural and economic changes, and also practical considerations, like funding, organisers, cooperation partners, etc. The cultural-political potential seems primarily to depend on our ability through conscious appreciation of distinctive cultural features to popularise contemporary art production locally and at the international level, both in the inner circle of the professional field and more broadly among the culturally interested public. An international triennial creates and confirms the value of artists, and considering the fact that it is difficult to position such an event outside a neoliberal market discourse, it would be strategic to include as sustainable a critical mass of artists from the local region as possible.

If I had to summarise with one thought all the activities of TPT over the years, then I would probably choose the title of the 2011 exhibition "For Love, Not Money". I hope that in the coming years the TPT organisers have sufficient enthusiasm to continue the work of this varied undertaking, with its long tradition. There will always be people willing to be involved, as well as viewers and critics who have something to say about TPT.


1 Piret Karro, Kiirkohting: Margit Säde. – Müü 29. V 2018.

2 "Most certainly my personal life also provided the impetus for this exhibition, the feeling that my energy had got stuck somewhere and I needed to quickly activate it, the sense that the world seen through the screen no longer interested me and I wanted to be able to touch and have experiences using my physical body. I needed to get rid of old habits, I wanted to relate to people directly, not via the "cloud"." Ibid.

3 Margit Säde, Sissejuhatus. – Tallinna XVII Graafikatriennaal "Pilvepurustajad. Intensiivus vs kavatsus". Tallinn: Tallinna Raamatutrükikoda, 2018, pp 15–16.

4 I refer here primarily to the pressure that often appears in art practices to be contemporary, which is for example expressed in form or less often in content. This kind of wish (of biennales and the art worlds that host them) to connect with the global Zeitgeist could be tied firstly to the problematics of the perception of time. Within many biennale theories the biennale format appears strongly connected to the ontological meaning of [our] contemporary art or the requirement of being contemporary is coded into them. It is a critical concept that follows modernism and for contemporary society it signifies their own sense of time and way of thinking. The phenomenon of "contemporaneity" has been studied by many post-colonialists. For example, according to Cuauhtémoc Medina "contemporaneity" is a new form of global cultural, generally applicable sense of perception, which has resulted in the socially and culturally constructed need to belong and be as current as possible and an active participant in the global "art calendar". See: Cuauhtémoc Medina, Contemp(t)orary: Eleven Theses. – e-flux Journal 2010, No. 12 (January).

5 At the last the XVI TPT there were 17 artists from Estonia and 11 artists from other countries, with an additional 3 from Eastern Europe and 20 from elsewhere. In the XV TPT the number of participants was many times greater than the previous two triennials, with a total of 109 artists and artist groups, including approx. 15 artists and artist groups from Estonia.

6 "Why is it interesting to organise an exhibition of printmaking 2007? Maybe it isn't that interesting, because printmaking as a practice of reproducing pictures is already quite dated, and in its place an autonomic visual system has developed ¬– a specialist art niche that endeavours to avoid external pollution. [---] From today's perspective and my own perspective as a curator, printmaking is interesting for the fact that in today's networked visual world it doesn't have any special significance. Printmaking is outdated, and not just technically but the imagery used and the sentiments that are expressed are also dated." Anders Kreuger, 1987. Baltimaade graafika ja plakatid nõukogude aja viimasest kümnendist. – Tallinna XIV Graafikatriennaal "Poliitiline/Poeetiline". Tallinn: Printon, 2007, p 142.

7 Elnara Taidre, Ekstensiivsest intensiieks. – Sirp 6. VII 2018.

8 Kreuger, p 142.

9 Mai Levin, 50 aastat Tallinna Graafikatriennaali. – Tallinna Graafikatriennaali jälgedes. Tallinn: Eesti Kunstimuuseumi Raamatukogu, 2018, p 118. In addition, Levin has stressed that in retrospect this kind of protectionist cultural policy encouraged the preservation of national and group characteristics. Exhibitions of printmaking from the three republics were interesting for their distinctive characteristics because of their different traditions and from this point of view printmaking from the Baltic States, in the context of international biennales, could be quite unique, "The symbiosis of contemporaneity and local characteristics was noted by many Western visitors who visited the Baltic States in the 1980s." See: Levin, p 120.

10 In addition to Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian printmakers there were printmakers from Canada, Finland, Poland, Hungary and Russia; there were 560 works by 169 artists.

11 Jüri Hain, Elnara Taidre, Tallinna Graafikatriennaalidest. – Tallinna Graafikatriennaali jälgedes, p 16.

12 See:

13 Reet Varblane, Armastuse, mitte raha pärast. – Sirp 20. I 2011.

14 Lilijana Stepančič, Mapping. Ljubljana graafikabiennaalide hitid. – Tallinna XV Graafikatriennaal "Armastuse, mitte raha pärast", supplement. Tallinn: Tallinna Raamatutrükikoda, 2011, p 28.

15 Wiktor Komorowski, Mis on hoidnud Tallinna Graafikatriennaali juba 50 aastat maailma graafikakaardil? – Tallinna Graafikatriennaali jälgedes, p 252.

16 Eve Kask, Missioonist ehk Graafikatriennaali varjatud mootorid. – Tallinna Graafikatriennaali jälgedes, p 128.

17 "When the first Tallinn Photomonth took place in 2011, as part of the European Capital of Culture, it was still defined as a "camera art festival". In 2013 it was referred to more broadly as "camera based art and visual culture" and in 2015 Photomonth defined itself as an "international art biennale"." Andreas Trossek, Fotokuu – festivalist kunstibiennaaliks. – Postimees 28. IX 2017.

18 Peter Osborne, Existential Urgency. Contemporaneity, Biennials and Social Form. – The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 2015, Vol. 24, No. 49–59, p 177.

19 Simon Sheikh, Marks of Distinction, Vectors of Possibility: Questions for the Biennial [2009]. – Elena Filipovic, Marieke van Hal, Solveig Øvstebø (Eds.), The Biennial Reader. An Anthology on Large-Scale Perennial Exhibitions of Contemporary Art. Bergen: Hatje Cantz & Bergen Kunsthall, 2010, pp 154–155.



Brigita Reinert is an art historian and critic, and works at Kumu Art Museum as curator of the public programme.

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