Exhibition “Estonia in Our Hearts”
When: 14.11.2018 – 17.2.2019
Opening of exhibition: 14.11.2018, 17.00
Where: Estonian National Museum, Participation Hall
The joint exhibition by International House Tartu and Estonian National Museum is made by people who have come to Estonia from elsewhere and have made Tartu their home. Everyone of them has a their reasons and a story that lies behind the decision to travel thousands of kilometers and settle in Estonia. It could be about love, family, work or education.
We asked the artists to pick one photo that describes their Estonian experience the best and tell us why it is important to them.
Alexandra, France/Reunion Island
Simple, humble and beautiful. These are the first adjectives that come to my mind, to describe Estonia. Picnicking by the lake, hiking in the forest, sledding down the slopes in the winter, going to the sauna, listening to the silence, observing landscapes where no building can be seen… So many activities that feel like luxury to me as I grew up in the suburbs of Paris. The lifestyle in Tartu has a lot of non obvious similarities with Reunion Island, where I am originally from. And it is why I feel so good here. Tartu is the place where I have lived the longest since I have left France. I consider it as my new home.
Estonia has become my greatest adventure.It’s the place where I can dream but as well to achieve, where doing what I love became part of my everyday life. Opening my eyes to a new day is the greatest feeling because Tartu offers me smiles, excitement and many reasons to be happy. There is something about Estonia that is as magical as its forests and people, just as magical as listening to Pärt Uusberg – “Õhtul” while writing these words.
As a Mexican proud of my culture, I am always happy and grateful for being able to share the colors, sounds and music that characterize Mexico through art, singing, dancing, or tastes. ERM & International House of Tartu have given me the opportunity to show my love towards these two countries in this collaborative exhibition. Just as my soul and heart are part of me, Estonia and Mexico are too.
My daughter Niika is 2.5 years old in this photograph. This photo is very important to me. Maybe everything I would like to talk about my three years in Estonia is in my daughter’s eyes. It is a story of a great journey, struggles and challenges.
This photo was taken in Russia on the day she met her great grandmother in Pskov. During the summer Niika crossed the Russian border for the first time and for the first time she was so far from her mother. It was the end of a difficult era in our lives. Niika has grown strong and can now compete in her development with her peers. I haven’t told yet that she was 3 months premature. My first son got wiser, finished his first year in Mechanical School of Tallinn and found a great job in the capital. My youngest son was almost a year old back then and he literally just got on his feet. Many uncomfortable and anxious times were over and I was feeling good and relaxed. Also it occurred to me, that my daughter is very beautiful.
This photo is the only one from my part of the exhibition, that I haven’t taken myself. The author of this photo is a well-known person from Russia: philanthropist, politician and publisher Lev Schlossberg. Every time he visits us in Tartu, he tells that Niika is the real miracle of our family.
I suppose it is true. Right now it is hard to believe that Niika only weighed 808 grams when she was born. And when I took her into my arms two days later, she only weighed 730 grams. These numbers are unbelievable. Even cosmic.
For me, the story of Niika’s birth is a hymn for Estonian medicine filled with my gratitude towards Tartu University Hospital. And of course towards my wife Julia, as terrified as I was, she never doubted that our daughter is going to be fine. The holy belief of a mother. Niika is a new citizen of Tartu who was saved by the professional doctors and she is also an Estonian citizen. In this photo and in my daughters eyes, I see the story of overcoming hardship, a hope for a better tomorrow and the future of young Estonia. And love. A lot of tenderness and love.
When I came to Tartu the first time, I was uncomfortable with exploring the local area. The only route I followed was from the dorm to the university building and back. This period lasted for less than a month and after this, I started exploring the city. The historical part full of old picturesque buildings was really lovely and I was excited to wander around those small cozy streets. But soon I realized that it was not enough.
I decided to go even further and expanded my route. I visited different districts of Tartu. I found a lot of lovely buildings and various street-art everywhere. I felt that I was communicating with another culture full of secrets and surprises. But then I came across those buildings. They reminded me of home. My hometown has numerous wonders of architecture but it is also packed with those typical blocks of flats. I know that it’s not the most beautiful thing to see and, in fact, those buildings are considered to be ugly but I can’t help but feel something common with these buildings. Maybe it’s just a flashback from my childhood, maybe it’s something else but it definitely affects me.
In my time here in Estonia I’ve gotten the inspiration to finally explore an artistic side of me that never had the attention it deserved, life circumstances and my career pushed this inner curiosity aside so I was never able to develop this skills any further.
Here in Estonia I’ve been inspired and encouraged to explore and create by wonderful artist that I happened to come across, it all started by visiting art exhibitions, talking to local artistsand it all got started, exploring, trying to find my own voice and not being afraid of looking like a fool.
It’s been a long process and like any art it requires some dedication. So whenever I can, in my free time I let the programmer, the engineer and the artist express themselves with colors and structures with a view of what I think is my own inner cosmos aiming to create a universal recognizable image or a pattern of my thinking and how I experience reality.
Exhibition curators: Thomas Chaffraix, Dalisa Camci, John Avila, Daniil Novikov, Gleb Gomankov, Karen Ballestas, Alexandra Issany