The year dedicated to Baltic and Russian video and media art in the Darkroom gallery at the Turku Art Museum is brought to a close by the Estonian artist Kristina Norman (b. 1979). In her documentary piece Me ei ole universumis üksi (We Are Not Alone in the Universe, 2010, DVD, 11:33 min), a group of people have gathered in a field at the unveiling of a new monument. The media are present to capture the historic moment. Finally, Mati Jakson unveils the memorial at the site where his mother once witnessed a UFO land.
In her art, Kristina Norman explores our relationship to monuments. The collection exhibition at Kiasma currently features Norman’s After War (2009). The work addresses the chain of events that began when the Estonian Government moved the so-called Bronze Soldier, a monument to Russian soldiers, from a central location in downtown Tallinn to a military cemetery. The ensuing violent riots showed how intensely people felt about the monument and what it symbolised. The artist herself was arrested by the police when she brought her own gilded version of the statue to the original site of the Bronze Soldier. Norman is currently working on a new piece that takes as its theme the War of Independence Victory Column, unveiled a year ago in the centre of Tallinn. Completed hastily, the monument has received mixed reviews.
The monument unveiled by Mati Jakson does not involve a memorial to some historical event commissioned by the powers that be, but rather a lived moment in the yard of a house in north-east Estonia. On 27 November 1996, Mati Jakson’s mother saw from the kitchen window a UFO that landed about 50 metres from the house. The unforgettable optical phenomenon was also seen by the neighbours. Some ten years later, Jakson decided to erect a monument to commemorate the event. The gilded letters carved in limestone are a reminder of this important event which was experienced by the neighbours – no other evidence of it exists. At the unveiling ceremony, Mati Jakson shoots a small rocket into the sky, a symbolic greeting intended to convey the message that we are not alone in the universe.
Thursday, 25 November 2010, starting at 1pm, Kristina Norman will give a talk in English about her artistic practice in the Kuvateatteri of the Turku Arts Academy (Linnankatu 54–60). Admission is free and the meeting is open to the public.
Ten questions to the Darkroom artist Kristina Norman
1. Could you tell how you start planning your art works and how the work proceeds?
Usually I do not plan starting a new art work, one project is growing out of another.
2. With which themes have you worked for this exhibition?
It's about perpetuation of memory. Unlike my previous projects dealing with great narratives cast in monuments, this work is about a monument dedicated to a personal narrative.
3. Why are these subjects important to you?
Some monuments have played a great role in the Estonian society during the past few years. First there was a case with the Lihula monument, then the Bronze Soldier, now the Victory monument…One might have an impression that some kind of a viral monument-madness is spreading in the small country. As an artist and a documentary filmmaker I am trying to get to the essential nature of this phenomenon.
4. Have you worked for a long time with these subjects?
Yes, for five years now.
5. Could you tell about the technique you have used for the art works in this exhibition?
It's a short documentary film. I actually shot the event keeping in mind a possibility that I might need to use it as an episode in a feature-length documentary film. This is what's fun about documentary filmmaking, you can sometimes make art works as films' by-products. Although I don't make much difference between art and filmmaking.
6. Is this technique typical for your working?
My artist's career is not so long, I haven't produced too many works. Most of my art works are a result of a long research and production period. So it's rather difficult to tell weather something is typical for my work or not. But I really like working with moving image and narratives.
7. On which aspects have you especially concentrated regarding the preparing of this exhibition?
I am always interested in showing the people behind ideas or social phenomena. This is exactly the case.
8. What does this exhibition at Turku Art Museum mean to you?
I like my work to be shown in different locations, in every (cultural) context a work functions differently.
9. Which other art fields are close to you and why?
I love drawing a lot. I find it challenging to express oneself directly with a minimum of technical mediation. It's honest and also very democratic, everyone can afford it.
10. Could you tell about your future plans?
Can't think of anything else but finishing my new feature-length documentary "Et meeldiks kőigile" - "A Monument to Please Everyone". It's about why and how the Victory monument of the War of Independence was erected in the centre of Tallinn: Who are the people behind this colossal glass pylon with a cross on top and why doesn't the lighting work and why do the details fall off a year after the opening.
The Darkroom series of exhibitions was launched at the Turku Art Museum in 2008. In the first year, the shows presented videos and media works by Finnish artists. Artists from the other Nordic countries were showcased in 2009. The year 2010 in the Darkroom is dedicated to work by artists from the Baltic region and from Russia.