Medvilnë, gobelenas, 120x560, 1999
Claus Domine Hansen (Danija).
Keramika, 10x300x400, 1998
Varis, galvanoplastika, 13x10x7, 1999
Raudonas molis, glazûra, 57x28x20, 1999
exhibitions of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian applied art were started
in Tallinn in 1979. With the restoration of national independence, it
became possible to invite participants from other countries and first
of all from the neighbouring Scandinavia. The 1997 triennial exhibition
arranged under the project of curators “Useless Things” was attended
by artists from 16 countries. For the triennial exhibition of 2000,
74 participants were selected from nearly 300 applications (representing
19 countries, mostly from the Baltic region, Scandinavia and Eastern
Europe, also one artist from Mexico, Australia, Japan, England and Italy
each). The subject of the triennial, “Possession”, was selected through
competition from four proposals. The winner of the competition, a group
of young jewellers “FFFF”, outlined the concept of the exhibition in
the following way: “Valiution of things thorough the events deving witch
they were acguired. A random find, a gift has triggered the need to
possess – the passion of colleeting […] Emotional invertment into things
that have been desirable since ehildhood – admired, mistified, adored.
Seemingly wortheless things which shaped and, indirectly, still influence
one’s word outlook”.
Did the artists respond to the proposed issue and how did they treat
it? Was the idea of the curators embodied in the exhibition? To a large
extent, yes. The idea of the curators was about possessed things, which
implies that the authors were expected to present things rather than
works of semantically unarticulated abstract form. Applied art has always
been related to things (artistic and beautiful), while in this case
it was expected that these would be important things worth possessing.
How are they created?
First, by “playing” with the thing’s purpose, i.e. by breaking down
the usual functioning context of the thing and proposing a new one,
paradoxical and non-trivial. Second, treating the things that we desire
as memories of a different world. A world were magic is hidden in simple
things. According to J. Baudrillard, there are no more things in the
man’s world of today, only simulacra, things that have lost reality
and become an empty shell. In the opinion of the famous theoretician
of postmodernism, the past and old things become a talisman of authenticity.
The lost reality is viewed at the exhibition both nostalgically and
In conceptual applied art, as in applied art in general, the material
has an important role. It is not only a material substrate from which
a thing is made, but also a part of work carrying a semantic load. The
more expressive the material, the better is the result. This, I believe,
is proved by the works of the prizewinners of the exhibition.
Finnish artist Eija Mustonen, Lithuanian Andrius Januðonis and Danish
artist Claus Domine Hansen.
I am not undertaking to judge what was the place of the triennial exhibition
“Possession” in the artistic life of Estonia, how important it was for
the biographies of famous and less well-known artists. I believe that
the spectator, both the one who has seen much or the one who only episodically
encounters postmodern art, got a lot form the exhibition.