Writing, Curating and Lecturing on Visual Arts, Public Space and Architecture

Stop Sitsimäe! 

Article on Epp Kubu's exhibition at Artishok Biennale 2012.

Text exhibited during the exhibition (10.10.2012) and later published in the catalogue.


The Estonian Academy of Arts is considering different alternatives for the location on Tartu mnt and has asked potential real estate holders to make offers to the school. All in all there were about 30 offers, 7 of which stood out. These ones can be seen on the EAA website. It is remarkable, that all of them are situated in North-Tallinn, the future centre of the city. Where exactly that centre will be (the options include the Telliskivi creative complex, the neighbourhood of Kultuurikatel (Creative Hub), SUVA sock factory, the neighbourhoods of Port Noblessner or Balti Manufaktuur), depends primarily on the EAA’s decision.


Balti Manufaktuur’s ‘candidacy’ seems intriguing: namely, the developer of the Sitsimäe quarter would be willing to sell half of its enormous factory to the EAA for just one euro (the market price is 5-10 million euros).


For the EAA, who is in financial difficulties, this offer sounds on the one hand like a message from a messiah, on the other like incomprehensible mockery. Looking into the matter more closely, it becomes clear that the developer would have ten times as much empty land left over from the EAA that could be used in the next hundred years or so to set up a powerful business empire while riding the tailwinds of creative industries. What kind of an empire? For example, according to the detailed plan, it would be possible to build a skyscraper with up to 66 floors on the site. Already they have signed a contract with the supermarket chain Rimi who is committed to opening a supermarket there in the next few years, probably a lump similar to Norde Centrum with its parking lot of a thousand spaces (Artz park?!) and hideous billboards. And thus we come to Epp Kubu’s advertisement campaign which asks: who, how, when, with whom, from where, to what, why, what, without what, for what, and with what is trumpeting with these PVCs?


Raging advertisement is not necessarily bad, but (the EAA) shouldn’t fall into the trap of the economic relations behind it. Rather, the system should be outwitted and made to work for their own benefit (that should be taken into account when planning the new house).


The Museum of Contemporary Art of Estonia has chosen a rather apathetic way: seeing it from the street it looks like some random box, which you wouldn’t suspect as containing anything important to people. The unpretentious bricks and rather alienating fence speak of the museum’s irrefutable self-confidence: don’t judge a book by its cover. Epp Kubu Rimisizes this delicate façade so the house starts trumpeting about everything that could be found inside, instead of just being what it is (compare with Swedbank’s ‘art’ in front of KUMU).


Perhaps it is high time to gather forces for a better city? The Sitsi skyscraper might have been a good idea seven years ago when the only way people could get rid of the drug-addicts in Kopli was by visualising a skyscraper, but these times are gone. North-Tallinn has gradually grown cool and there is no need to scare anybody away from there with some towers now. People have also started to prefer local bakeries and cafés so perhaps there is no need for a new Rimi? (The people of Viimsi have torpedoed the plan for a new Maxima store several times.) Or what is this localism and community thing anyway that the author is talking about here? Localism should also be reviewed critically. We should also discuss the (seemingly) temporary visual appearance of the city which advertisement undoubtedly is. Epp Kubu’s installation is a very welcome endeavour.

Some Paragraphs on Art Allmägi and Young Estonian Sculpture
A Comfortable Pirouette

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