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

Unprecedented percentage

The article discusses the first fruits of the "percentage act" that took effect in Estonia three years ago.

Published by Estonian art quarterly Kunst.ee: http://ajakirikunst.ee/?c=magazine&l=en&t=unprecedented-percentage&id=983


In 2011, the Art Procurement Act (KTTS) took effect in Estonia. According to the act, art works have to be procured to the value of at least 1% of the construction cost of public buildings. This law applies to state and public agencies, foundations whose founder is the state or more than half of whose members are from state or public agencies, and to non-profit associations, but not to local government units. Works of art have to be procured, if the total price of the construction work is at least 750,000 euros. According to the Public Procurement Act, an anonymous public call is announced for placing an order for the work of art. The results of the call are assessed by a jury, two-thirds of which must be composed of people who are also members of one of the arts associations.

By the beginning of 2014, about ten works of "percentage art" have been completed and about 400,000 euros have been injected into the Estonian art scene – a sum that, for example, is approximately the 2014 budget for Tartu Art Museum. For comparison, the 2014 budget for the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design is 294,591 euros, and the Ministry of Culture allocated 140,000 euros according to the Art Galleries Grant Programme. Hence, percentage art operates with unprecedentedly large sums, which is a substantial victory for and an important recognition of the chronically under-financed art world, but also occasionally a starting point for new problems. Below, I will discuss in detail some of my favourites from among these new works of art, and describe briefly others, which did not impress me so much.



Paradoxically, the main advocate of the Act up to now has been the former Minister of Education Jaak Aaviksoo with his general plan for state senior secondary schools. Last spring, Riigi Kinnisvara AS (State Real Estate Ltd.), who administers public secondary schools, announced a procurement under which percentage art was commissioned for three brand new public senior secondary schools (Viljandi Senior Secondary, Lääne County Senior Secondary, Jõgeva Senior Secondary), which all acquired new extensions or had existing buildings renovated. In one case (Nõo Senior Secondary), the old building was demolished and a new one erected. In Viljandi, a new school building was opened, designed by Salto architecture bureau, which also won the annual Cultural Endowment of Estonia architecture award. In Haapsalu and Jõgeva, honest (based on the lowest bids) albeit poor quality renovation works were also carried out. In Nõo, the old school house was demolished and replaced with a new, architecturally uninteresting prefabricated building.

In the fall of 2015, four more public senior secondary schools (in Pärnu for up to 720 students, in Jõhvi, for up to 540 students, in Tartu for up to 540 students and in Võru for up to 450 students1) will be added, which might raise the question what kind of state planned scenarios will the art works be enacting in these school buildings. For example, it has been argued that public secondary schools will produce citizens who believe that life outside the administrative centres is not profitable. There have also been speculations that a smaller number of secondary schools would be more effective, in addition to being cost-saving, also in exercising more rigorous pedagogical and ideological control over the local youth. This might not be a bad idea if the state was able to put together a prudent joint objective for the next fifteen years. However, at the moment this doesn't seem to be happening, and patronising public secondary schools seems rather to serve current political-ideological purposes.

Nevertheless, I anticipate one positive outcome of this promotion of public secondary schools: until now, secondary school students have been invisible players on the side-lines of social life, but the new situation may bring an intense and reckless contingent into the cultural as well as the political arena, who perceive and realize their voice and exercise their rights, and are able to circumvent their status as secondary school students.

Something similar happened before World War II, when during the 1934 school reform, a three stage school system replaced the previous two stage 11-class system: in addition to primary school (classes 1–4) and secondary school (classes 5–9), a prestigious senior secondary school (classes 10–12) was introduced that were not open to the average local peasants. To the indignation of the architects of the time, the new self-assertive senior secondary students became so socially active that by the end of the 1930s they formed almost the most radical social grouping in Estonia. An example of this is the Elbumus secret society that was active in the final years of the first independent Estonian republic and was comprised of senior secondary students (Ilmar Laaban, Ilmar Mikiver, Ilse Lehiste and others) who wanted to unify European students with the aim of bringing the Old World out of stagnation. I think that the percentage art that is cultivated in schools should similarly aim towards freeing pupils of apathy and cultivating their self-assertiveness.



Seven projects were submitted to the percentage art competition for the Lääne County Senior Secondary School. The jury consisting of Leidi Schmidt (director of the school), Katrin Tomberg-Tohter (responsible for the restoration project for the building), Pille Lausmäe (Estonian Association of Interior Designers), Hugo Mitt (Estonian Association of Designers), Jaan Elken (Estonian Artists' Association), Mati Veermets (Estonian Association of Graphic Designers) and Taavi Aare (Riigi Kinnisvara AS), chose sculptor Edith Karlson's figurative group "Lennula" (Flight Zone) which also functions as a source of light (the heads of the 52 aluminium birds are replaced with light bulbs). The artist folded 52 birds from corrugated cardboard to create a pleasing installation, took moulds from them and cast them in aluminium. The motif came from the school symbol, which is a swan, and the school logo, which displays a paper bird, folded in origami technique.

Compared to the rest of the percentage art works, Karlson's has caused the most resentment among local audiences. Besides several disappointed responses, the newspaper Lääne Elu published an opinion piece by Tiiu Randmaa-Mihkla, art teacher at the school, who argues that Karlson's work doesn't support the dignity of the historical building, that its style and implementation is in contrast with the building and there is no hope of its value growing in time. She argues that the problem is that a small circle of professionals decides on spending large sums of money, whereas the local people should also have a say when art is to be purchased for public buildings. She brings the example of cases where local government units commission development plans that are always published on the local government web page so that people might express their opinion before the plan is approved. Randmaa-Mihkla mostly approves of the work of the jury, the majority of whose members are from arts associations, but she maintains that before concluding the procurement contract, there should be dialogue between the artist and the users of the public space. In the end of her article, she cites the now former president of the Artists' Association, Jaan Elken: "Art project competitions should, if necessary, consist of two or more stages. Also, they don't have to be anonymous, since a cleverly compiled draft plan may not guarantee professional implementation."2

As for organizing the competitions in two stages, this is a reasonable suggestion, but since the Public Procurement Act provides that competitions should be anonymous, I cannot imagine how the second anonymous stage would enable a constructive dialogue. Transparent competitions, however, could result in a massive trend towards procuring the works of respected classics. So there you are.

On the other hand, I completely disagree with Randmaa-Mihkla that Karlson's work does not suit either thematically or formally in the existing space. On the contrary, it is terrific that of all the percentage art works it was Karlson's decidedly modern sculpture that happened to become part of this grand school building, constructed over a period of four centuries – the oldest remaining part of the building was started at the end of the 18th century. Traditions should create a suitable ground for cultivating contemporary thought – the vitality of the school comes from the fact that it has been innovatively managed throughout the years. Talk of not respecting the solemn classical interior is inevitably reminiscent of the fake marble and paraphernalia of the nouveau riche.

"Lennula" blends gracefully with Artur Perna's school building (the profanes would say here that without any sense of awe), bringing a dynamism and playfulness where it was not previously supposed to be (in the heads of the pupils). A situation where anonymous commentators who claim to be the students in this school moan in frustrated and misspelled language that the artwork does not go along with the bust of Wiedemann, is simply catastrophic. Centuries old learned helplessness.

More than once, the local media has turned public opinion against percentage art stressing that the artists have been overpaid. The article in Lääne Elu, "Ühisgümnaasium sai 37 000 eurot maksva laevalgusti" (Joint Gymnasium Acquires A Ceiling Light Costing 37,000 Euros)3 received about a hundred typically hateful comments hypercriticizing Edith Karlson's "Lennula" and our contemporary art in general. More worrying than the articles and the bewilderment instigated through online media channels, is the fact that the first and the main audience for these artworks – the pupils and the teachers – have not been "converted" to positive thinking at the right time.

Although the legislation has created opportunities that would enable the pupils and teachers to appreciate both the school environment as well as themselves more, the miscommunication has in the worst cases created the opposite result. The most pressing issues related to the Art Procurement Act are perhaps: how to mobilize the Ministry of Culture and the art circles so that they introduce works of art adequately to audiences, and how to create a "buffer zone" between the draft projects and the completed works that would benefit everyone.



Fourteen projects were submitted to the competition for Viljandi Senior Secondary School. The jury, consisting of Ülle Luisk (director of the school), Maarja Kask (architect of the building), Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla (Estonian Association of Interior Designers), Tarmo Luisk (Estonian Association of Designers), Kaido Ole (Estonian Artists' Association), Kristjan Mändmaa (Estonian Association of Graphic Designers) and Margus Türkson (Riigi Kinnisvara AS) chose Merike Estna's ensemble "Kera" (Sphere) consisting of four paintings (3.6 m x 5.1 m) and four coloured concrete spheres with a diameter of 1.2 m.

The paintings are outstanding and fit wonderfully with the interior. They take over where there is a break in the dynamics of the huge pink building, and the horizontal water line, the black building and the theatre building opposite come into play. Academic freedom fills the air – Estna's notebook lines instruct us to read between the lines. It is a pity though that the presentation of these minimalist paintings, which in the case of such art is of decisive importance, is not ideal (the fault of the building company?): one canvas extends about ten centimetres past the edge of the wall. If we evaluate the result a little further, it is fair to say that the suggestive architecture and the huge canvases create the atmosphere of a stylish private gallery, and perhaps the paintings are indeed a bit too spirited and large, reminiscent of hipster over-eagerness?

The artist commented upon the concrete spheres that were meant to go in front of the building in the following way: "The spheres are large, you can climb on them, lean on them or hide behind them. The spheres are there to create an active space and when you move between them, new views constantly open up." This is hard to believe. It is a school for teenagers not for small kids, and the spheres, rather than inspiring a game of tag, function more as traffic barriers that preventing the students from parking their cars badly. It seems as if the use of the spheres was an unfortunate compromise so as to fulfil the requirements of the competition (to activate both the interior space (for the pupils) as well as the exterior in front of the school (for the public)). The concrete spheres (painted or not) don not add anything to the paintings or to the architecture.

In the case of Viljandi, it is worth mentioning that the plans for the procurement of art reached the architects even before the building itself was finished. Therefore, the architects could determine the best locations for the artworks, and see the necessary changes in the cabling for the building (additional lights, cables, etc.). The solutions submitted to the competition therefore had to take into account the locations drawn up by the Salto architecture bureau.4

Here, it would be appropriate to discuss the extent to which the current Art Procurement Act allows artists to produce monumental or applied art so that their work is integrated into the logic or bloodstream of the building at the earliest possible – project draft5 – phase. The simple answer is not at all. Art has to fit in, architecture to mitigate the risks – they cannot work together. It is already a wholly different issue whether we should be sad about the absence of monumental art – a genre that is perhaps even culturally unachievable in our time.6 Due to the indefiniteness of modern applied art, it is not surprising that the most controversial of the percentage art works have been created for buildings that are being renovated, where the competing artists as well as the jury – primarily due to the incompetence and illiteracy of the customer or the user of the building – have been put into a situation where it is not clear whether the art work should relate to a particular historical layer and if so which one.

One could also discuss which doors does the Art Procurement Act open for the development of art, and which does it close. In this respect, for example Mart Kalm, an architecture historian, has pointed out that when he went to school at the Tallinn Secondary Science School, there were masterpieces of Estonian painters on the walls of all the classrooms. Would it be possible and reasonable in today's context, in addition to percentage art, to re-establish the government system of buying modern art such as was employed in the Soviet era when art was procured for public buildings (independently from the construction works)? That would be an "art act" with far greater scope, and less costly for the state budget.



Nine works were submitted to the competition for Jõgeva County Senior Secondary School, from which the jury, consisting of Alo Savi (director of the school), Raul Kull (responsible for the building's restoration project), Pille Lausmäe (Estonian Association of Interior Designers), Aivar Habakukk (Estonian Association of Designers), Mare Mikof (Estonian Artists' Association), Hannes Starkopf (Estonian Artists' Association), Mati Veermets (Estonian Association of Graphic Designers) and Taavi Aare (Riigi Kinnisvara AS) chose Vergo Vernik's monumental sculpture "Tasakaal" (Balance) as the winner. It is a 2.5 m high abstract piece that consists of three details. The sculptor has explained that while the school building follows the construction canons of the Stalinist era, the free form of the sculpture could be seen as a counterweight to the austerity of the building. The artist wanted to create an abstract piece so that everyone could use their fantasy to figure out its meaning.

It is an immaculate piece of monumental art and there is nothing to say against the reasons for its existence. The school wanted a modernist work in the schoolyard – this was one of the conditions of the competition. The jury chose Vernik's honest composition since there was no reason to criticize it. Vernik is an experienced sculptor who has no problems creating an independent ensemble.

Another work of art in a similar key, but with considerably less character was created for Nõo Senior Secondary Science School, where the jury consisting of Margus Türkson (Riigi Kinnisvara AS, construction manager), Jaanus Järvoja (director of the school), Merike Raid (architect of the building), Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla (Estonian Association of Interior Designers), Monika Järg (Estonian Association of Designers), Hannes Starkopf (Association of Sculptors), Andrei Kormašov (Estonian Association of Graphic Designers) and Mare Mikof (Estonian Artists' Association, backup juror), chose Peeter Leinbock's work "Viimane spikker" (The Last Crib) as the winner. The arced metal form standing on two granite footings is dedicated to long-time director of the school, Kalju Aigro.



A small interlude: I have now considered four works of art the total cost of which is 190,000 euros (plus VAT). What this cost actually covers and how much of the money ends up in the pockets of the artists depends on the specifics of the materials: a painter in this context inevitably earns more than a sculptor (e.g. the metal casting of one small sculpture may cost up to 1,000 euros).

In the case of the above four examples, we know that the earnings of the artists at the end of the day were less than half of the total cost of the procurement of these works. How the artists allocate the project's material costs, the cost of the working hours, the cost of involving other workers and the value of their own intellectual contribution is for them to decide. For example, both Merike Estna and Edith Karlson worked in partnership with Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, to whose professionals all the paperwork was delegated. It is a safe guess that the artists had to "invest" more than half of their potential earnings in the bureaucracy-free world. Considering how complicated the public procurement paperwork may be (e.g. in the case of an open air sculpture, the artist has to obtain all the construction and usage licenses, pay all the state fees, book a land surveyor, acquire the lighting, order the cabling project for this purpose etc.), it is perhaps quite a reasonable expense. It seems that architects, who, due to the specifics of their job, are well acquainted with the public procurement procedures, have an advantage here compared to artists. However, they probably have to use more assistants when realising their projects.

Something else that may come as a surprise to the artists in the case of the Art Procurement Act, is the fact that according to the Public Procurement Act the total sum of the procurement will be paid only after the finished work has been submitted. From the lawyers' point of view, it is probably self-evident that the state has to protect itself in this way from potential freeloaders. In the case of percentage art though, this creates a situation where every Estonian sculptor who submits a project worth of 20,000 euros, probably has to take out a bank loan after winning the competition. Who would be happy to ask for a bank loan in order to complete an artwork?7



Besides secondary schools, the government has also invested in modernising vocational training. In 2012, the first Estonian percentage art piece was completed in Jõhvi, in the yard of the Ida-Viru County Vocational Training Centre. There, the jury consisting of Arthur Seppern (director of the vocational training centre), Jaan Elken (president of Estonian Artists' Association), Peeter Pere (Head of Estonian Association of Architects), Ekke Väli (member of the Association of Sculptors) and Mari-Liis Tamm (member of the Association of Sculptors) chose the sculpture "Cyberant" by Hannes Starkopf as the winner. The cyber ant motif for the sculpture, which was first planned as a kinetic work, came from the mascot of the school which is an ant, and the fact that the school emphasized the need for state-of-the-art technology to prepare mining engineers and chemists for the major industry in the region.

However, the project, as often happens with first trials, was a failure. And already for art historical reasons (the artist and the architect in the project, Tõnu Laik, had nothing to do with it): during the renovation works of the vocational training centre, a stylish sgraffito from the 1970s on the other side of the building that depicted cool hipster students – future mining engineers – all wearing slightly Christ-like beards and bell bottom trousers, was accidentally covered with roughcast. In addition, since the option of placing an order for a work of art came as a surprise for the school, the organisation of the competition was not entirely effective. Due to a lack of experience, the percentage was initially miscalculated and the competition was announced for a larger sum than was realistic. The jury found out about this only after the selection had been made, and the author of the winning project immediately before signing the contract had to replace his grandiose plans with a cost-saving ant (3 m long instead of 5, scrap iron instead of stainless steel, mirrors for eyes instead of floodlights, a static sculpture instead of a kinetic one). Instead of enriching the public space, the sculpture had a somewhat opposite effect.



The jury in the competition for the County Vocational Training Centre in Pärnu, consisting of Riina Müürsepp (director of the school), Jaan Elken (president of the Estonian Artists' Association), Peeter Pere (Head of the Estonian Association of Architects), Valeri Falkenberg (member of the Association of Architects, the architect who designed the student dormitory) and Mari-Liis Tamm (member of the board of the Association of Sculptors) chose Urmas Viik's sculptural group "Kommidiivan ja sitikadiivan" (Candy Divan and Bug Divan) as the winner.

The initial task was to design decorative sculptures that would also serve as seats to be installed between the two bleak student dormitories constructed from silicate bricks in Niidupargi Street (one of which is whitewashed and painted yellow, the other, however, awaiting demolition). Viik's winning work is composed of two Pseudo-Baroque divans made of wood and waterproof plywood that mimic antique furniture and are, according to the artist, everything but discreet. The artist says they don't aim to blend in inconspicuously, but challenge their surroundings. The divans, which are situated in front of the student dormitory opposite to each other, are similar in form but their colour and details differ. At night, they function as external lighting thanks to the integrated lamps. The preposterous coexistence of the minor Stalinist architecture and the major Baroque style creates a striking contrast, yet the more artistic viewer will yearn for a more novel solution.

Viik is one of those artists who has actively entered the "percentage age". Up to now, he has taken part in four competitions and has twice won the second prize and twice the first prize. However, his other winning project – a piece designed for the Ida-Viru County Central Hospital – was disqualified by the procurer since he supposedly did not present the tax certificate from the local government as required. We should note that the project by OÜ Ühinenud Arhitektid was also disqualified on the same basis.

Mitigating the risks arising from the incompetence of the contracting entity is a crucial issue for future public procurements of percentage art. Both Viik and a representative of Ühinenud Arhitektid, Raul Järg, said that after such an experience one loses the desire to participate in these kinds of competitions. Who should teach and, if necessary, bring to heel and punish the stupid contracting entities? First of all, the Estonian Artists' Association (as the main advocate of the Art Procurement Act) should compile the conditions of best practice for a sample competition, as the Association of Architects have done. If such preventative tactics are not enough, hiring a competent consultant should be recommended to inexperienced contracting entities.


Urmas Viik
Candy Divan and Bug Divan
wood, plywood, lights
Courtesy of the artist




After a competition, the yard at the Järva County Vocational Training Centre in Paide (and in future also in Särevere) is adorned with a group of sculptures titled "PeaAsi" (A Heady Thing) by Ühinenud Arhitektid (Raul Järg together with Priit Pent and Raul Erlend), that was chosen by a jury consisting of Rein Oselin (director of the school), Jaan Elken (president of the Estonian Artists' Association), Peeter Pere (Head of the Estonian Association of Architects) and Jeljana Beljajeva (architect of RTG Projektibüroo). The designer of the huge concrete figures or buffoons turning cartwheels has described the sculptures in the following way: "It would be good if the pupils considered for a moment whether the main thing is a head or a thing."

The concrete figures intentionally integrate with the honeycomb-like window pattern of the building standing further away and will probably be accepted quietly and happily by the townsfolk – the concentration of stone sculptures in Paide is higher than anywhere else in Estonia thanks to the many sculpture symposiums held there over the years. As opposed to the other owners of percentage art, Järva County Vocational Training Centre has already integrated their concrete guys into the visual identity of their branding (the admission of new students is already being advertised in the media with a photograph of the sculptural group in front of the school building). Aesthetically, the "PeaAsi" consists of a stupefyingly boring state portrait of three, psychologically completely truncated men. Ethically though, there is no question about the fact that the ensemble will make the world a better place and people better people. And this is important, doubtless more important than any passing art criticism that boastfully declares monumental art to be a lesser art form because it is in fact too early to say anything about any of the percentage art works. After five, or perhaps ten years, we can say if anything has actually changed.



The jury for the competition at Räpina School of Horticulture, consisting of Indrek Kaeli (teacher and master florist at the Räpina School of Horticulture), Jaan Elken (president of the Estonian Artists' Association), Anu Kalm (vice-president of the Estonian Artists' Association), Hannes Starkopf (member of the Association of Sculptures), Koit Komissarov (member of the Estonian Association of Architects), Reti Randoja-Muts (teacher of landscape architecture in the Räpina School of Horticulture) and Marika Lõoke (backup juror, member of the Estonian Association of Architects) chose a work by the Kaos architecture bureau (Margit Aule, Katri Haarde, Mae Köömnemägi), "Vaade ajalukku" (A Glance into History) as the winner. It is a small form architectural piece that arouses the curiosity of the viewer – reminiscent of a trench and impossible to describe in words. One must go there and see it! The interior of the appropriately site-specific work reminds viewers of the fact that previously there was an orchard in the very same place. The rusty brown colour of the well is in contrast with the greenery and in winter, with the snowy whiteness of Räpina. Interestingly, the work by Kaos is the only one of the hitherto completed projects that needs the presence of the viewer in order to "work".



The competition for Ida-Viru County Central Hospital, the jury of which consisted of Mari Kurismaa (member of the Estonian Association of Interior Designers), Peeter Pere (Head of the Estonian Association of Architects) and Tarmo Bakler (head of the Ida-Viru County Central Hospital Board), was organised for a sculpture for the interior of the hospital, a maquette of the hospital complex, and markers for the hospital floors to be placed in the corridors and photographs in the staff rooms. Considering the sum (26,900 euros) for the procurement and especially comparing it to the other competitions, you could assume that this contracting entity had something fishy in mind. Due to different blunderings, only photographs by Peeter Laurits and Herkki Erich Merila have been finished and installed throughout the hospital. These consist of two series of photographs: about thirty smaller pictures depict macro shots of vegetation, and the larger panels show harmonious photo-shopped compositions of plants, the variations of their names and people of different ages. As the title – Therapia florealis – of the series indicates, it is artistic naturopathy. In the near future, the small form by Kaos should be added to the photographs.


Gregor Taul is an art historian with a background in semiotics who currently works as the curator at the Kondase centre.



1 However, several of these gymnasiums fall under the administration of local authorities, and KTTS therefore cannot be applied to them.

2 Tiiu Randmaa-Mihkla, "Lennula" ei sobi Wiedemanni. – Lääne Elu 29. I 2014.

3 Kaire Reiljan, Ühisgümnaasium sai 37 000 eurot maksva laevalgusti. – Lääne Elu 18. I 2014.

4 Although in Viljandi, the integration of art into the logic of the building was saved at the last minute, the locations for several other percentage art pieces have been "invented" only after the building (or its renovation) has been finished. The renovation works are often carried out by the construction company that won the lowest bid and for whom finding the location for art may be an annoying and unpleasant additional chore. Not pondering upon it too much, they select some disjointed walls. But what happens if these are fragile gyproc walls? The (financial) responsibility lies with the artist: if a ceramic artist should want to construct a mosaic panel there, she should be allowed to build a new durable wall...

5 An architectural project consists of four stages: the project brief defines the architectural idea and the original tasks for the spatial solutions; the preliminary project presents the location of the building on the construction site, the floor plans of the building and the approximate proposal; the main project is where the architectural details of the building are designed, the solutions for different building materials determined, and the cost of the building put together; the working project is the scheme based on which the building is constructed.

6 For more on this subject, look at: Gregor Taul, Monumentaalmaal kui avalik ruum. – Konspekteeritud ruum. Tallinn: Teater NO99 ja Lugemik, 2012.

7 The representatives of Riigi Kinnisvara AS have maintained that in principle, deferred payments may be possible, but that would require the invention of a common language, which would make it possible to differentiate the different stages of the work of art.


"One mustn't hope that a single decree could immediately solve all the needs and situations related to art. The public has to get used to art in the public space. I see it rather as the beginning of a long-term dialogue that could ideally fill the abyss, which has been created in Estonia over the last two decades between the new artistic forms and the public. I admit that in some cases, there have been talks across each other caused by the wrong strategies chosen by the artists, the ignorant (and occasionally even malevolent) mass media publications and blanks in art education. Dialogue, in any case, is necessary for both sides."

Jaan Elken, Protsendiseadus uuel ringil – kaua võib? – Sirp 1. IV 2010.


"From the ceiling of Haapsalu Senior Secondary School, there hangs a bunch of orange wires, attached to which are aluminium birds with light bulbs in their mouths. They cost 37,000 euros. In front of Jõgeva Senior Secondary School, there stands a concrete egg that cost 35,000 euros. In front of Viljandi Senior Secondary School there are four concrete spheres and in the building there are two large paintings. The cost is 65,000 euros. These are examples of works that have been accomplished under the Art Procurement Act. Are wires, light bulbs and concrete eggs really art? And if yes, why do they cost so much? This is a question that might be posed by anybody who has to get by on an average Estonian salary – by someone whose last acquaintance with art was years ago in primary school where they had to draw a still-life of a tea pot and three apples standing on the teacher's desk."

Tuuli Jõesaar, Probleemne protsendiseadus läheb muutmisele. – Eesti Päevaleht 18. II 2014.


"Karlson's "Lennula" is composed of 52 aluminium birds connected by cables, with some of the birds' heads having been replaced with light bulbs. Stepping in from the main door of the school building, one does not expect to see such a light source. It is surprising. Instead, the hall of the beautifully renovated school building could exhibit a traditional bust or a monumental painting. [---] According to Olga Temnikova, owner of Temnikova & Kasela Gallery who represents the winner of the competition, Edith Karlson, the initial assignment stated clearly that the school sought an art work that related to the logo of the school – an origami style paper bird."

Kaire Reiljan, Ühisgümnaasium sai 37,000 eurot maksva laevalgusti. – Lääne Elu 18. I 2014.


"For the defence of the people of Haapsalu I would like to say that we are not such strangers to art that we can only appreciate seascapes and don't understand modern art. There are broad minded people living in Haapsalu, who visit modern art museums when they travel in Europe or elsewhere in the world. The artist Agur Kruusing via Haapsalu City Gallery brings good Estonian modern art to our very home."

Tiiu Randmann-Mihkla, "Lennula" ei sobi Wiedemanni. – Lääne Elu 29. I 2014.


"Although my artistic taste remains somewhere with Konrad Mägi and Ants Laikmaa, I like "Lennula" very much. [---] As a consumer of art, my problem lies somewhere else. The way art is being purchased for public buildings is completely wrong. [---] The cost of the percentage law procurements is fixed in advance. I may present ten paintings or a monument or a composition made of ten empty coke cans. The price is fixed. One only needs to be a smart enough art merchant who can submit the necessary competition papers in due time. The fact that the multi millionaire industrialist Indrek Kasela has successfully participated in such competitions only confirms that a smart procurator is needed. [---] For the 65,000 euros that was invested in the couple of paintings and some concrete spheres in Viljandi, they could have bought art from 65 young artists. The artists would have been supported, and the school would have obtained a whole collection. It would have been good business if one of those 65 would turn out to be the next Mägi or Laikmaa."

Andrus Karnau, Kunst astus elutuppa. – Postimees 25. IV 2014.

Losing the battle but winning the war?
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When you require his service please say
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Jun 22, 2023