I Take a Few Years of My Life

Curator: Tiiu Talvistu

These lines from the Estonian poet Jüri Üdi as well as the exhibited works originate from the 1970s. The choice of works gets into a dialogue with the simultaneously opened exhibition Youth Mode.

Why the 1970s? This is a decade introduced by the events of 1968 after which life was not the same neither in the Western societies nor here in the Soviet Estonia. Free world was shaken by students’ riots and crushing the Prague spring broke the illusion born during the ‘Khrushchev thaw’. The result was an atmosphere of bitterness. The end of this decade was marked by an essay by Ants Juske and Linnar Priimägi Autumn in Tartu (1978) where the young generation of those days was characterized as indolent or indifferent.

In the previous decade the first generation connected with the beginning of the cult of the young had stepped on the arena. This was a time when the notion ‘the culture of the young’ began to be used and the idea ‘youth obliges’ came to be widely stressed. Everyone interpreted this obligation in his or her own way. The new generation also brought along an aesthetic break affecting all spheres of culture. At this exhibition poet Jüri Üdi enters the new decade on a portrait painted by Ludmilla Siim, standing in the middle of an empty field holding in his fingers a burning match. Into the new period that followed the young artists from Tartu led by Miljard Kilk step with bravado on the painting titled Let’s Go. The exhibition includes both the works of the artists from the hippie generation and those of the artists ten years younger.

A decade is a conditional unit of time. Thus bringing together young people active within that unit is also a conditional act – real life is always much richer. At the same time it is significant that the poetic aestheticism of the beginning of the decade was replaced by the hyperrealist drawer, which Ilmar Kruusamäe has dedicated to Ants Juske who was forced into inside exile by the stagnating society for telling his thoughts. Jüri Üdi started publishing his poems under his real name Juhan Viiding.

Do these values and attitudes oppose or come into a dialogue with those of the present young generation?

In the exhibition I Take a Few Years of My Life Ludmilla Siim, Aili Vint, Peeter Mudist, Kaarel Kurismaa, Jaak Olep, Peeter Urbla, Miljard Kilk, and Ilmar Kruusamäe offer their interpretation of youth. The exhibited works are from the collections of Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum and Tallinn Art Hall Foundation.