Artist talk: Maria Kapajeva
An artist talk with Maria Kapajeva will take place at Kumu’s new exhibition “Maria Kapayeva. Loose Photos, Odds and Ends”. The discussion will be moderated by the visual artist and photographer Aap Tepper.
Maria Kapajeva is an artist who works in Estonia and the UK. Kapajeva’s work often explores a diverse spectrum of cultural identity and gender issues in historical and contemporary contexts. Focusing on women’s positions in contemporary society, through research-based work she questions how identities are formed via subconscious effects of advertising, films and popular media. Her latest artist book, Dream Is Wonderful, Yet Unclear, published by Milda Books, received the Krazsna-Krausz Photo Book Award in 2021. She exhibits internationally and her works are in museum collections, including the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and the Tartu Art Museum. In 2021 Kapajeva started practice-based PhD work at the Estonian Academy of Arts.
The exhibition “Loose Photos, Odds and Ends” is part of Kumu’s permanent exhibition “Landscapes of Identity: Estonian Art 1700–1945”. The exhibition is an artistic experiment: presenting a research process as an installation. What can you do and what would you do with a random collection of photographs? Eight years ago, Kapajeva came across a few old photographs for sale online. She experiments with different ways of opening up the potential of the often undervalued, under-researched, marginalised heritage of vernacular photography. In the age of automated face recognition software – partly developed by historical archives, but mainly by state and military institutions and international corporations – her project demonstrates the benefits of “slow recognition”. As she slowed down for an artistic exploration of this collection, Kapajeva also made this exhibition a part of her homecoming, as she has lived abroad for years, just like the photos she is exploring. By focusing on the faces of photographed people and forgotten facts which she learned from these images, Kapajeva shows her appreciation for individual stories in our history.