Translocal: Museum as Toolbox. Exhibition ‘Alone/Together’
Location: 4th floor, Project Space
The starting point of the exhibition Alone/Together is the eternal question of how to fit into a group while maintaining one’s individuality. This question – clearly topical in the context of present-day nation-states – is also central in art and creative work in general. How to stay true to and believe in your own ideas while being a useful member of society and understood by as many people as possible?
This exhibition has been put together in cooperation with the Kumu Youth Club, the members of which participated in the international joint project Translocal: Museum as Toolbox. One part of the project was the Italian artist Luigi Coppola’s residency at Kumu in April 2016, which resulted in the photo series The Society House #Estonia displayed at the exhibition. Coppola was mostly interested in the extent to which the current youth of our relatively young state relate to such concepts as nationality, identity and territory. In other words, how do they view themselves as individuals and at the same time as members of a (national) community. In addition to the joint work of art made with Coppola, the youth club has been working with the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia since autumn 2016, discussing the artworks and their meanings from the viewpoint of community and identity.
The discussions led to the emergence of opposites, such as community and individual, unity and dissociation, which are often viewed as separate but which, in fact, exist in society and art as gradations and indistinguishable buffer zones. While preparing the display, the youth club decided to look at the opposites as manifestations of a variety of perspectives and ways of thinking, which should lead to a new well-considered viewpoint that recognises the differences. The title of the exhibition – Alone/Together – refers to the collective curating experience, which formed a new whole out of the members’ personal relations to art and the exhibition. The heading also alludes to the youngsters’ general experience gained in the Translocal project: as one of the five partner institutions it was necessary to always take into account the other partners, but also to clearly formulate one’s own position.
Along with the works created during the residencies in the five partner museums, the Kumu Youth Club has decided to include two pieces from the collection of the Art Museum of Estonia: Tanya Muravskaya’s photo diptych Untitled/Self-Portrait I, II (2015) and Siim-Tanel Annus and Mari Kaljuste’s joint photo series Staging (Song Festival Ground) (1988), which look at the issue of identity from different angles.
The aim of Luigi Coppola’s photo series was to create and display a sense of unity through discussions, clothing and postures. A similar imagery of empowerment was used by Siim-Tanel Annus in his ritualistic performances in the 1980s when he frequently wore a white robe and crown during his shows. Although the aim of Annus’ performances was not to emphasise national identity, his shows had an obvious connection to the independence movement of the late 1980s; the performance in 1988 at the Song Festival Grounds particularly tied his series to the national narrative.
In Tanya Muravskaya’s work, we similarly notice garments as sources of identity, but with a more ambivalent, political and personal meaning than in Annus’s case. Although the clothing Muravskaya has chosen reminds many of the possible danger and restriction of personal freedom, for the wearer it creates a safe private space that can be seen as protective armour.
Other works on display come from the partners in the Translocal project and have also been created in cooperation between a resident artist and local youth.
The Polish artist Marcin Polak worked at the Museion in Bozen with local youngsters and immigrants, studying communicative processes and communication failures. Together with the youth, he addressed the (frequently misleading) role of media in the coverage of the European immigration crisis and created a safe, open meeting place free of prejudice in the museum for the inhabitants of Bozen and the immigrants to come together.
The Italian artist Aldo Giannotti, whose residency took place in Poland, at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, also dealt with communication, but studied the ways in which one could grab the reins. The museum’s signature font was used to create a gigantic alphabet poster with which to invade the public space. In such a manner, the museum boosted the youth’s own voice, giving them a chance to spread their messages in the post-industrial city environment by visual enrichment, as well as displacement.
Maria Derlysh and Ekaterina Kluchnik (from the NGO Lasnaidee), who were sent by Kumu to the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, examined the museum’s position within the city space. The Zagreb museum is located at the crossroads of major thoroughfares, opposite a huge shopping centre, next to a district reminiscent of our Lasnamäe. The artists were tasked with working with the youth on the idea of the museum as a public space. How could the museum contribute to the city space and offer a different kind of an environment from a commercialised zone that is unfriendly to pedestrians? Lasnaidee’s suggestions for furnishing the plateau in front of the museum were simple and efficient: people need to have a chance to slow down and prepare themselves for a visit to the museum. The Kumu’s courtyard is a similar buffer zone, an architecturally unique and inspiring environment for spending free time. The members of the youth club have also done their share in making it cosier for people.
The Croatian artists and designers Maja Kolar and Masha Poljanec spent their residency at the Kunsthaus Graz and established a forum together with the locals to discuss the nature of a museum of the future. The Kumu atrium now contains an opinion booth, where visitors can share their ideas, criticisms, dreams and suggestions, which will form a basis for the visions of futuristic art museums. Kumu eagerly awaits visitors’ ideas on this topic!
Siim-Tanel Annus, Tanja Muravskaja, Luigi Coppola, Marcin Polak, MTÜ Lasnaidee (Maria Derlõš ja Jekaterina Kljutšnik), Oaza (Maja Kolar ja Maša Poljanec), Aldo Giannotti
Kumu Youth Club (Anna Borissova, Helen Birnbaum, Lauren Grinberg, Arina Jegorova, Agneta Kardaš, Loora Kaubi, Mihkel Kosk, Saskia Künnap, Antero Kevin Leedu, Sofja Melikova, Mirjam Mikk, Ramona Mägi, Iris Ojavee, Mirjam Orav, Olivia Raudsik, Gert Avar Reinumägi, Andreas Rohesalu, Mark Sagar, Simona Stenberg, Ingrid Tamm, Emel-Elizabeth Tuulik, Katre Vahter, Erik Heiki Veelmaa)
Design and graphic design: Tuuli Aule
Coordinators: Maarin Ektermann, Mary-Ann Talvistu, Triin Tulgiste
In collaboration with:
Kunsthaus Graz, MSU Zagreb, Museion Bozen/Bolzano, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź