art 2004/2


Saulius Valius. Nomadų ratas. 2004, instaliacija, medis, metalas, popierius, spaustuviniai dažai,Ø 600

Kęstutis Grigaliūnas. Tautinė giesmė. 2003, šilkografija, 260x522

Eglė Kuckaitė. Radiacinis fonas nepakitęs. 2004, sienos akcija, tušas, fotografija, antspaudai, 500x500

Eglė Kuckaitė. Radiacinis fonas nepakitęs (fragmentas). 2004, sienos akcija, tušas, fotografija, antspaudai, 500x500

The Homecoming of the Graphic Art

by Laima Kreivytė

The title and theme of the 13th Tallinn Print Triennial (held Sept 10- Oct 31) – In Exile – belie the true nature of the event. The graphic art seems to be coming back from exile. Both critics and the viewers have noted the increased concentration and diversity of the triennial. The event is assuming an increasing role, even outside the Baltic countries. The selection of works this time has been entrusted to the artists – curators from the three countries. They did not feel committed to bring the ‘best’ art from their country, but pursued the goal of conquering new territories and attracting new names.
    One cannot claim that the Tallinn Print Triennial has completely abandoned its traditional model and has become simply an international exhibition of ‘prints’ in the widest sense, ranging from the etching to photography and video. It has kept some of its traditional features, first, remaining a competition. Alongside with the work from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, it has featured (as previously) international artists, selected by the board of local and foreign experts. The Estonian Art Museum, the City of Tallinn and the Bank of Estonia have established additional to the triennial’s prizes, awards.
    The triennial encompassed several events in different venues. The key event, In Exile, was hosted by the Art Centre in the Rotermann Salt Storage Arts Centre, in close proximity to the port. The Tallinn’s Art Hall and the Gallery, located centrally in the town, showed the international exhibition Other Neighbourhood (curator Sirje Helme). In the Gallery of Tallinn town the prize-winner of the 12th Triennial Andreas Tali presented his new work, entitled The Instruments of Lust and Yearning. The international conference took place in the coastal location of Käsmu. Satellite youth events, like the exhibitions of the Art Academy students and young adults were taking place in a number of venues.
    In Exile has given up segmentation of the Baltic art into ‘national’ collections, instead, the work by Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians has been orchestrated to achieve the effect of unity. The artists selected by the Lithuanian curator Redas Diržys seemed to be sending the strongest political message. He approached ‘exile’ as an existential and conceptual category rather than a visual one. First, he ‘exiled’ the graphic art (in its narrow sense) from the exhibition and focused on process rather than the outcome. He also exiled the participants into their ‘auxiliary’ field, by selecting the artists with their primary professional focus outside the graphic arts. In his selection, the curator applied also the factor of the artists’ personal experience and included the painter Audrius V.  Plioplys, a practicing doctor in the USA, and Martinas Zetas, who lives in the Czech Republic. The flag collection by Martinas Zetas has been one of the most potent metaphors for globalisation and ‘ideological promiscuity’. 
    The concept of existential exile, or, more specifically, the exile from life into art and vice versa, dominated the event. In terms of life and art, which of the two is real, and which is its reflection?  Maybe, there is only an endless chain of reproduced images, and no original exists. The Grand Prix of the Triennial went to the Lithuanian artist Eglė Kuckaitė to recognize the maximal tension between the real and artificial, the print and the drawing, ethnic collisions and sentimentality in her work Radiation Field Unchanged.  It featured an enlarged picture of the deer family, printed on the wall in an array of author’s stamps. Next to it, hung the artist’s ‘model’ – a still picture of the stuffed animals on display. The greatest merit of the female artist’s work is its multiple semantic layers and the ability to discover the unexpected realms existing between reality and a print. Visually, Kuckaitė’s work strikes as low-key, and its absolute opposite is a gigantic mobile by Saulius Valius, a witty comment on the very nature of printing, a sophisticated paraphrasing of the printmaking press.
    Scouting new territories and offering unexpected solutions seems to be at least one obvious tendency emerging in this event. Appropriation is its dominating strategy, manifested as borrowing the language from a different sphere (advertising) or trading contexts. The Another Neighbourhood curated by Sirje Helme, deserves a separate article, yet it is obvious that concurrent staging of exhibition competition and curated events is invigorating to all of the participants.