On 13 January the Tartu Art Museum opens the exhibition Grey Area, which introduces the more avant-garde trends in Estonian contemporary comics. For most viewers, comics are an area that they don’t know much about. Therefore, this exhibition offers an extensive exploration of the undiscovered essence of contemporary Estonian comics. The exhibition is open until 26 March 2017.
Participating artists and groups: Edvin Aedma, AW (Liisa Kruusmägi and Janno Pikkat), Jüri Kask, Liisa Kivimäe, Peeter Krosmann, Ivar Laus, Triinu Lille, Kristel Maamägi, Marko Mäetamm, Ats Nukki, Madis Ots, Darja Rattik, Lilli-Krõõt Repnau, Anna Ring, Stella Salumaa, Elina Sildre, Joonas Sildre and Veiko Tammjärv.
Curator: Mari Laaniste
Twenty-first century Estonian comics are hard to define or describe since most of them have lost their connection to their traditional newspaper roots. In Estonian contemporary culture, comics play a marginal role that seems to exist in a bizarre quasi-state without its own mainstream, recognisable image or specific and stable outputs. In a weird way, this vagueness seems to be leading Estonian comics in a positive direction, which is evident in the artistic quality of the new works, as well as in the constant influx of fresh and talented authors.
The present selection of works record an anomalous phenomenon that disappears into other cultural media. It appears and disappears and is unrestrained by the usual formats or techniques, good or bad practices or well-defined rules of play. The exhibition investigates the effects that contemporary comics have in a gallery environment and the experiences they can offer to the audience. Humour is included, as might be expected, but comparable weight is given to philosophical musings on everyday and fantastical subjects, as well as lurking disquiet and alienation.
Most of the exhibited works have been made specifically for the present exhibition and, in addition to short or long comics in traditional formats, they include rarities and experiments: Veiko Tammjärv has made a temporary re-creation of his Roy Lichtenstein-inspired street art work Rock Summer, which appeared in Tallinn in the 1990s, before its destruction. Marko Mäetamm’s installation Darkness experiments with connecting the narrative from pictures to an actual spatial experience. Jüri Kask finally reveals what the characters in his 1978 painting Conversation are talking about.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication containing introductions by the curator and Tartmus’s director, Rael Artel, as well as a discussion of comics between the art historians Mari Laaniste and Andreas Trosseks that further opens up the theme. Also included are short biographies of the artists and examples of exhibited works. The publication was designed by Veiko Tammjärv, and it is available in Estonian and English.
The educational programme will include guided tours, comics workshops by Marko Mäetamm and Liisa Kruusmägi, and the competition “Art and Comics” for children. Additional information firstname.lastname@example.org.
Design of the exhibition and graphics: Veiko Tammjärv
Co-ordinator: Joanna Hoffmann
Exhibition team: Indrek Aavik, Richard Adang, Nele Ambos, Rael Artel, Merli-Triin Eiskop, Karl Feigenbaum, Margus Joonsalu, Hanna-Liis Kont, Jaanika Kuznetsova, Ats Nukki, Julia Polujanenkova, Kristel Sibul, Kristo Tamm, Peeter Talvistu, Ago Teedema, Urmo Teekivi and Vladislav Tomassov
Works are from the Art Museum of Estonia and the authors.
The exhibition has been supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Manager of the Exhibitions Department