Thursday, November 24, 2016



Installation "Agora" by Bence György Palinkas, speaking of three concepts of Hungarian cultural house - the first one comes from the imperial era, and is called "People's cultivation" (introduced by Mihály Gyerkes, 1906); the second one is based on the socialist idea of public culture (example based on  the house of culture in Budapest, built in 1979); and the third one is the contemporary idea of "community culture", embodied by Szent-Györgyi Albert Agóra in Szeged. The wooden pieces have been inspired by the work of the city architect of Budapest, made in the 1970s.


Bence György Palinkase installatsioon "Agora", mis kõneleb kolmest Ungari kultuurimaja kontseptsioonist - esimene pärineb Austria-Ungari impeeriumist ja selle nimi on "Rahvaharidus" (vt harimine kui kultiveerimine, ka põlluharimine, jne; ideed tutvustas Mihály Gyerkes, 1906); teine põhineb sotsialistlikul avaliku kultuuri ideel (näiteks on toodud Budapesti 1979. aastal ehitatud kultuurimaja); ja kolmas on kaasaegse "kogukonnakultuuri" kehastus, mis asub Szegedis ja kannab nime "Szent-Györgyi Albert Agóra". Kunstniku idee kasutada puidust mudeleid põhineb Budapesti linnaarhitekti tegevusel 1970ndatel. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Slovenian flag for Lady Gaga. Photo from here.

ANOTHER FACELIFT OF WESTERN CAPITALISM

Although "The Wolf of Wall Street" seems to have no point at all, except 3 hours of pornographic cognitive manipulation, there is still something that makes me write about it. At first, I see this movie so symptomatic, that i see this as a performance taking place whenever and wherever it is screened. Secondly, this film might be the tombstone of all Wall Street yuppie-movies. 
The beginning of the film gives a lot of hope - there is a yuppie, driving his Ferrari, while a girl is giving him blow job, but the next moment the same yuppie goes to work to Wall Street with public transport. Aha, this is the mad dream from the Gordon Gekko era, haunting an average idiot going to work in Wall Street today. But no - it is not an independent movie, it is still Hollywood. The film turns out to be "how i made it"-kind of story. And a really bad one!
Seems it has been made out of leftovers: there is a notable pattern of "Goodfellas" in it, there are all the cliches of representation of Wall Street capitalism (drugs, naked female bodies, cars, etc) and - like always - there is the leading narrative of personal man-woman relationship and its crisis, also personal suffering from drug addiction, etc. How the fuck do they (Scorsese and DiCaprio) dare to come out with such a shit, during the era of irreversible crisis, after Occupy Wall Street, etc?
Even the legendary "Wall Street" from 1987, the story of Gordon Gekko was more critical - it was about the struggle of authority - a young man and his ethical crisis, on one side his desired master Gordon Gekko, representing the free market and neoliberal mentality, on the other side his own father, representing real work. The real father wins and Bud Fox becomes a hero through the intervention of state authority that reminds us that the Law still exists. Gordon Gekko goes to jail. The end of the story. But jail, in reality, is not the end! Even Michael Milken, the prototype of Gordon Gekko, got out of jail. And we don't know how Bud Fox is doing! You become a hero - what next?
Year 2013. The Wolf of Wall Street. At least there is one positive thing in this movie - the decreased authority in the representation of Wall Street. The masturbation at Gordon Gekko is over. A stock broker is not an evil genius (like Gekko) or a twisted personality (like Patrick Bateman). A stock broker is a salesman! And this is the one good statement in this film! There is no way to reduce the whole story to one single event of one shitty company, we all know there are thousands of well educated yuppies still walking around, collecting contemporary art and fucking with the world economy. At least there is now less public desire towards them. Or not? Haha. Who is DiCaprio in this movie? Bud Fox, 25 yrs later? DiCaprio - a good guy, who gets carried away, but deep inside he is still this free spirit from "Titanic", etc. And, remember, the dominant line is still based on personal problems - too much greed, drugs, women, etc - but we give him another chance, right? He goes to prison, but gets out. So did Gordon Gekko.
Towards the end of the movie, after DiCaprio has crawled out of his problems, and is willing to quit his company, he makes a speech to his colleagues, starting with the announcement of his leaving, then starts to memorize. He points at a colleague - this woman here, who drives a Mercedes and wears expensive labels came here 5 years ago, asking for couple of hundred dollars advance payment, but i gave her 250 000 etc. Being in the cinema at this point, i sensed that this DiCaprio's speech is not a part of the film. DiCaprio is making the speech to the cinema audience! Look how you used to live before! And look at yourself now! And - as he concludes his speech - he will stay! He won't leave! Wall Street will stay, neoliberal global capitalism will stay!
The West needs to remain its symbolic authority as it has lost its real power. See the speech of Singaporean intellectual Kishore Mahbubani! He compares the rise of Asia with industrial revolution in the West, where human condition developed around 50% within one lifetime. As he says, in China, the human condition has developed around 10 000% within one lifetime! There are millions of people in Asia, who truly believe in free market, which has emancipated them. The West remains as a symbolic authority in this transformation, so it cannot allow the mainstream cinema to become critical. Movies will probably become more and more propagandistic, even monumental. 
"American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis came out in 1991, in the euphoric period of the West, after 1989, when the story of the book actually took place. "American Psycho" criticized the effect of total neoliberalization, the dehumanizing force of financial capitalism. But it was probably a bit too much obsessed with ironic repetition - at least it has been wrongly understood and exploited for long time. For example, I remember an interview with Kalev Mark Kostabi (an artist from NY with Estonian origin, who was briefly mentioned in the book "American Psycho"), who started to work out, after he got inspired by Patrick Bateman's "...I'll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now". But the movie by Mary Harron was super and i think it is one of the greatest films of all times. Despite the content, there was no fetish, no masturbation at authority, no female body exploitation, due to the strong and critical presence of female gaze. 
"The Wolf of Wall Street" was full of primitive amusement and pornography. Plus one extra thread, leading to the contemporary globalized world - the inclusion of the former East! But without any conceptual sense - probably only because of the inclusion of Slovenian actress Katarina Cas, the topic of Slovenia was brought up! There was even one party scene with Slovenian flag. And there was a moment where a Swiss banker asked "are you Swiss Slovakian or Swiss Slovenian?". That much about Eastern Europe! It is still a marginal piece of surplus-enjoyment that lasts 2 seconds. What did they want to achieve with this? A symbolic IPO of Slovenia in the global market? Bullshit, it is now 2014. And Slovenia, embodied by Slavoj Zizek, has already been/occupied Wall Street. This primitive trick with Slovenian flag leads back to the decreased yuppie-authority. Salesmen don't follow the Occupy movement. Salesmen see things like this: Slovakian or Slovenian!
Seems that the audience of Hollywood is Asia. It doesn't convince the West for long time. In this context i see the Scorsese movies as a nice piece of history - but he is finished, there is no country for old men! The movie can be seen as a symptom of desperate capitalist facelift or, more generally, as  part of re-westernization propaganda in Asia. Still, Wall Street and Hollywood are standing in front of us, while we are sitting, but not listening to them already for a while. The world is falling apart, people are starving/left homeless. But the Capital is still standing and we are sitting, as we have bought the cinema ticket and they have produced a movie. For some reason we still buy these tickets, we still watch these movies, as if we are trying to reach something, to convince somebody... "Sell me this pencil!" are the last words of DiCaprio, the starring actor and the producer of this movie. He wants to sell me his pencil, but asks me to do it instead of him. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A SPECIAL KIND OF DWARF
Nain Rouge - an evil red dwarf from Detroit, appearing during social catastrophies, economic crisis, etc. 

The creature, appearing in one of the three stories of the movie "Cat`s Eye" (1985) by Lewis Teague (written by Stephen King). See the similarity with Nain Rouge. The film is available here
It seems to be one and the same dwarf - Nain Rouge. The face of the crisis. From this perspective, the "Cat`s Eye" story speaks about a threat to a family - whether it`s an economic crisis, a marriage crisis (which in actually obvious in this film), a crisis due to the family`s dirty secret (see the end - the family decides to keep the story of the creature in secret).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

HUMAN FORESTRY 
Manifesto
„Human Forestry“ is a political statement and a critical act, but also a real life exposure of exploitation and instrumentalization of human labor and natural resources in the context of relations between the Western and the Eastern Europe. Although we, the Estonian artists of 10 x 10 meters, have been working without salary on this performance, the statement is not only focused on the matters of contemporary art system. We are loyal to the organizers of Performance Compost in Kiasma and thankful for the invitation. Our statement advocates racialized and exploited East European labor in the West, pointing at the problematics of Estonian immigrants working in Finland.
The triumph of the Western global capitalism has created the situation where officially 30 000 and inofficially around 100 000 Estonian immigrants are working in Finland, typically for lower wages than the local workers, leaving their lives, homes and families behind, to the East European country with growing poverty and social catastrophy. Although it started much earlier than in 2004, it is part of the European Union enlargement agenda. According to Austrian journalist Hannes Hofbauer, long before the creation of juridical framework for EU enlargement, the former Soviet lands created three pilars of transformation that would correspond to the logic of the capital: a) hyperinflation and shock therapy; b) creation of the market by renewing the „stagnant“ society and creating new labor market for the Western capital; c) reforms and privatizaion. The hypothetical freedom that the Eastern European countries achieved after the collapse of Berlin Wall in 1989, quickly turned the sensitive post-communist East European landscape into cowboy-capitalist battlefield, preparing space for the Western capital to land, on the expenses of local human lives and welfare.
Before we start talking about self-colonization in East European countries and searching for the hidden capitalist spirit inside Soviet communism, that, according to the Western leftist thought, was a failure, we should keep looking at the propaganda mechanisms by which the Western capital exposed itself during the Cold War era. The creation of East European nation states was the necessary input to switch into the machine of global capital and global culture. A typical political coctail in Eastern Europe is nowadays neoliberal politics that go hand in hand with nationalist conservatism. The latter works as a formalist justification and pain killer to cover the bitter truth that East European nation states are masks for global capitalism. Their whole set up – the educational system and mainstream culture included – works as farm of cheap human labor.
It is a known fact that East European immigration has it`s economic influence to the Western labor market and social welfare in general. For example, in the case of United Kingdom it is known fact that the East European invasion was high in the same time, when unemployment was increasing. The main reason for this flow is that East Europeans are more willing to do “dirty, difficult and dangerous” jobs for lower wages than the locals would get. The similar thing is going on in Finland, where Estonian construction workers have become almost like a trade mark. The will of East Europeans to do „dirty, difficult and dangerous work“ for lower income cannot be reduced to subjectivities or Protestant work ethics or experience of Soviet communism, as well as it cannot be reduced to the backwardness, destructiveness and brutality of East Europeans. The only cause of this self-destructive will is the social disaster, created by neoliberal politics of East European nation states, surrendering the dictatorship of free market and global capitalism. As a result, the local life suffers – for example the Estonian health care system lacks of quality, because of the migration of the medical workers. The entire social system of the country is moving towards the model of the United States. Such a model has been described by Achille Mbembe and Marina Gržinić as necrocapitalism – a system that lets live those who can socially survive on their own and makes die those who cannot.
The similarity of language and culture (whatever that means) has united Finland and Estonia to a certain kind of kinship, which in current situation unfortunately involves above mentioned perversity and abuse. Because of today`s reality, it is becoming the dark side of the hypothetical Finno-Ugric culture and this should make us re-think such cultural relations and constructions from the colonial and neo-colonial perspectives. Similar abusive kinship is going on between Romania and Italy – there is similarity between languages and a hypothetical cultural bridge, mainly meant for the Romanian immigrants to be mistreated and underpaid in Italy. As in that case, the difference between Finland and Estonia has sociogenetic origin – the difference is racial, and it occurs typically in neo-colonial relations between the East and the West, but more specifically, between the Baltic region and the Nordic countries, such as Finland and Sweden. Although the borders within the EU are meant to be dissolved, the East considered to be the former East, and the West considered to be the former West, it is still evident that the borders exist. These are invisible borders between people, based on racist foundation of labor.
The dream of freedom – the freedom to live and work wherever you like has turned out to be the freedom to live in terrible conditions and work for lower wages that in Estonian context means good income, and to be separated from your home and family, that are left to the other side of the Gulf of Finland. The subjective freedom is an institution, part of a huge exchange machine that is best displayed in the traffic on the Gulf of Finland – since the end of the 80s there has been the „cultural bridge“ with input of Finnish alcohol tourists and consumers for Estonian prostitution, and output of Estonian immigrant workers, happy to form the new Estonian middle class by being underpaid in the West. Because of the benefit that the Western countries get from cheap East European labor, the poor conditions in the East form the necessary soil for successful harvest. Therefore Estonian poverty as the cause of massive immigration can be seen as the natural resource of Finland, and in that case the Gulf of Finland can be seen as a contemporary version of the Middle Passage. 
 There is an African proverb: „He who doesn`t know where he came from, doesn`t know where he is going“. The official policy of East European countries keeps the Soviet period in the status of trauma and rupture, a blank space between two capitalisms – pre-Soviet and post-Soviet. The time inside the blank space is treated as a bad dream, although the bigger part of lives of many active East Europeans, including politicians, passed during that time. East European identity politics has placed the trauma to the Soviet period, which has juridical and ideological grounds, although the traumatic moment was the fundamental ideological switch – „the new system“, if you wish. The switch of ideology wasn`t only about the political system or way of understanding things – ideology rules the entire life, with it`s past, present and future, with it`s organics and origin. According to many opinions coming from Eastern Europe, in Soviet times people never felt themselves as a senseless biopolitically instrumentalized mass as they feel now. Even in severe cases of social injustice, there remained hope and understanding of truth. But it was like that also in the Western society, during the period before the outburst of global capitalism. Although the entire world has changed, it is important for East Europeans to understand where they come from and where they stand. For the Western countries it is important to understand their post-colonial and neo-colonial liability.
The performance „Human Forestry“ by 10 x 10 meters is dedicated to Estonian immigrants working in Finland, but also to all other East European workers in the West. The performance takes place in Helsinki, Kiasma and includes the following: Estonian national resources – timber and human labor – are transported over the Gulf of Finland on the expenses of Estonian taxpayers. The timber – a huge pile of logs – will be located to a gallery space in Kiasma, by using physical work of four people. Kiasma as the hosting institution for this event is free to interpret, use or archive the embodiment of Estonian labor. Current statement is addressed to Finnish and Estonian societies. Whoever agrees with us and wants to contribute, is welcome to help us roll the logs in Kiasma 2 PM – 5 PM, 7-th of October 2012.

*10 x 10 meters


Members of 10 x 10 meters: Eva Labotkin, Epp Kubu, Tanel Rander, Mai Sööt, Villem Jahu and Andrus Lauringson








Monday, August 13, 2012

Decolonize Mars! Decolonize Mars landscape!
Decolonize this!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

sky of Belgrade, fall 2011

Friday, May 18, 2012

Introduction to Decolonize This
Exhibition „Decolonize This“ is the first part of critical research that is focused on geographical identity politics in the context of East-Europe, departing from postcolonial theories on East-Europe and tries to apply decolonial thinking that aims to distinguish and eliminate layers of coloniality of certain geographical spots and sets up questions at what is left afterwards.
The aim of decolonial thinking is to disconnect from dominating ideology, the Western epistemology and universalism. „Decolonize This“ doesn`t reach this aim and it`s doubtable if such disconnect is possible in a positive sense. In this context, the problems related to the exhibition are the representation (contemporary art discourse and exhibition format) and the context of artistic research – such problems are not explicitly reflected by the exhibition, which rather uses the colonial condition as communication channel and public space, to focus on certain social matters. Representation matters will be hopefully solved in the final, theoretical part of the research as a reflection of my own practice.
In the context of artistic research i find it important to develop a critical position, aware of the presumptions and consequences of artist activity, that are critically reflected. Linda Tuhiwai, author of „Decolonizing Methodologies“, with Maori background, considers in her book the term „research“ a dirty word, coming from European imperialism and colonialism. It is totally excluded that East-Europeans can be considered colonized Maori-like nations. Such misleading beliefs can be observed in understanding the poem „We Have to Walk Very Quietly" (written by Estonian author Jaan Kaplinski, with an intention to speak about American indians) as allegory to Estonian nation, colonized by Russians. I presume that after decolonizing Estonia from imperialism, occupation, neocolonializm and self-colonization we will face a certain kind of organic matter that is colonized by Occidental thinking after very first steps of reflection. According to David Chioni Moore[1] there is no square meter in the world that is uncolonized. Therefore the postcolonial theories are, in principle, applicable everywhere. I find it problematic that the totality of such statements refers to Western universalism that tries to colonize every such square meter with postcolonial theory, bringing the new space under control of Western intellectuals and postmodernism as the basement of postcolonial theories. In the context of East-Europe the postcolonial theories may seem unreliable as such theories that are focused on spaces related to the Soviet Union derive from failed discipline of American sovietology that was unable to predict the collapse of the empire and is now trying to rehabilitate and renew itself by rearticulating its old materials and positions.[2] East-Europe may need new postcolonial theories that won`t depart from models coming from overseas, but would be based on a more sophisticated and hybrid local situations, distinguished by imperial difference. It is not necessary that such new approach would be named as postcolonialism. There should be a critical position towards Western modernism and postmoderism, global capitalism and neocolonialism, using the Socialist experience as an advantage, as something outside the Western experience. Therefore i find decolonial thinking, represented by Walter Mignolo and Madina Tlostanova, to be a suitable position in the East-European context. Exhibition „Decolonize This“ is an introduction to decolonial thinking in the area of interest of postcolonialism. The exhibition is based on artistic research – theoretical preparation and decolonial practices, such as distinguishing the colonial layers, contextualizing the local identity politics with colonial matrix of power, that has certain consequences in the sensitive East-European landscape. Identity politics, organized by institutional position of power, that creates the spatial consciousness and identity spaces (like Estonian nation state, North-Europe, the Baltics, etc), also shapes the general human freedom and identity models, which leads to the topic of biopolitics. There are ready-made constructions for self-determination in terms of belonging, gender, sexuality, etc and for understanding the surrounding world, the organic matter, life as such. „Decolonize This“ views such matters of identity politics through decolonial hypotheses and set of questions, through reflections of personal experience and abstractions. Informativity and communication play important role in the exhibition – certain geographical spots and their meanings that are marginalized by certain processes of identity politics and remain outside the public attention and spatial consciousness are introduced to the audience. Thereby the exhibition intervenes the local social context.

[1]„Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Postcolonial Critique“; translated by Anne Lange; Methis nr 7, 2011  
[2] - As speaks Epp Annus in her article „Postkolonialismi pealetung post-sovetoloogias: kas paradigmamuutuse künnisel?“; Methis nr 7, 2011

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thank you Laura Põld, thank you Marek Mäemets, thank you Epp Kubu, thank you Eva Labotkin, thank you Indrek Grigor, thank you Kaisa Eiche, thank you Eesti Kultuurkapital, thank you Archimedes, thank you Balti Veski AS, thank you Timo Toots, thank you Tartu Kunstimaja, thank you Tartu Kunstimuuseum

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I N V I S I B L E  W A L L 
Psychogeographical expeditions in border area between Austria and Slovakia
Vienna and Bratislava are almost the closest capitals in the world, the distance between the cities is around 56 km. After Slovakia entered into Schengen zone, there is no active border control between the countries. Conditions for interaction between the two cities are good (infrastructure, regular public transport, small distance, etc), but still Bratislava has quite a marginal position among many people in Vienna, who`s geographical priorities are West-oriented (as almost everywhere in the world). The causes such tendencies might also be related with the Austrian imperialist nostalgy (Bratislava is still known as Pressburg among many Austrians), prejudice at former Eastern Europe and the isolating matrixes of nation state ideologies. 
Psychogeography is a metaphor, which characterizes a site related consciousness as a developing process in constant change and recovery. The site might vary from direct physical surroundings to wide abstractions. The process might involve artistic practices and outputs, related to any content – from perception matters and interpretations (poetics of space, synesthesia, apophenia, mythogeographies, etc) to critical research and intervention.
Psychogeographical expeditions create personal and/or shared experiences of space. Crossing borders or experiencing border areas expand the geographical consciousness to marginal non-places, that exist as scaffolding and buffer zones for mainstream landscape units. The participation of such expeditions is based on individuality (the aims and outputs of every single participant are different and can be used for different purposes) and shared experience, which are usually reflected by documentation, intrpretation, symbolization, etc.
INVISIBLE WALL is a part of my artistic PhD research project and is focused on studying the set-up of (former) East-European landscape paradigm.
First expedition of INVISIBLE WALLS project takes place in 24-th of March 2012.
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION:
a) Border and it`s embodiments: natural borders (Danube) vs political borders; the politics of nature and natural borders. Embodiments of the past – the contemporary border landscape as result of Socialist past. 
b) The identity of border: border as the political language of landscape; Danube river as fundamental border (grand narrative of landscape) in Europe; Danube as communication channel and rhetorical platform – border as communication unit.
c) The identity of landscape: understanding nature; from idosyncrasy to biopolitics. How do border landscapes deconstruct landscape iconographies (Austrian landscape, Slovakian landscape, Western landscape, Eastern landscape, Capitalist landscape, Post-Soviet landscape, Globalist landscape, etc)?
d) Allusions of landscape: Roman imperialism (Petronell-Carnuntum, Danube), Austro Hungarian imperialism, Socialist Era, East vs West.
e) Contextualization of landscape and the experience; de-conceptualizing the whole event and setting up alternative, artistic and non-artistic positions.
The expedition in not a sensational artistic one-timer event, it is a starting point of continuous thinking about borders in different geographical contexts. The output of this event might be collection of experience in the form of texts and artefacts, thoughts and activities.
List of former psychogeographical expeditions, performed with Tartu experimentalist movement "eksp".

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ideological exploitation of landscape 2
Ukraine is a huge and disputable area with diverse landscapes - forests, massive river systems, steppes and grasslands, Carpathians, Crimea. South-Western Ukraine used to be part of Austro-Hungarian empire, the rest under Russian tzar. Correspondingly to the landscapes, there are Ruthenian Ukraine, Cossack Ukraine, Tatar Ukraine, Hutsuli Ukraine, etc. And mainstream Ukraine, of course, the nation state, signified with the flag, which officially refers to wide wheat field and blue sky above it. Pesonally, i consider it the most beautiful flag in the world, and one of the most beautiful landscape concepts - an endless grassland (that the landscape used to be before agricultural exploitation) and a constantly clear sky above it.
It`s questionable, if the yellow color refers to wheat only. Ukraine is the world`s biggest producer of sunflower oil. Sunflower derives from European colonization, it was discovered in America, but bred and commercialized in Russian empire, so after that it was brought back to America again and introduced to agriculture. Thereby sunflower not only signifies the colonization, but also refers to one of the early stages of globalization. Ukrainian flag shows the economical and agricultural identity of Ukraine. 
According to some American authors, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova are considered to be accidental nation states, side-effects of the collapse of the USSR. I would ask, which nation state is not accidental? All nation states are accidents, taking place on landscapes, which are balkanized in favor of dominant ideology. Estonian dominant ideology sets up the coastal landscapes - the Baltic Sea, islands, West-Estonian flatlands - , and marginalizes all the other areas, especially in the East. Nordic identity corresponds to western areas of the country and follows the ideology of Western capitalism - to create a singular, very authentic Estonian identity, and serve it as a product among others. Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves has several times made public announcements that Estonia is not a Baltic, but a Nordic state. Latvia and Lithuania also apply for the Nordic identity, and in official level, all the Baltic states (plus Poland) have been announced to share the identity of the Baltic Sea. Well, the national consciousness of Poland has been said to be quite far from the identity of the Baltic Sea. It is mainly an inland country, and i would also rather point out the East-European inland paradigm, where all the states from Estonia and Russia to Poland, Ukraine and Moldova belong to.
Some weeks ago i happened to fly from Kiev to Tallinn, over Chernobyl, which is situated inside a very interesting landscape. It`s a huge area between Belarus and Ukraine, the natural border zone, created by Pripyat river and its subsidiaries, swamps and forests. People, who used to live in the neighbourhood of Chernobyl, had a very personal and close relation with nature - it is very well documented in the book "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster". Some people, who had to abandon their homes, returned later and started to live in radioactive environment. Just because of homesickness and the place itself. I`ve noticed before that Belarus/N-Ukrainian identity has been reflected by specific relation between people and nature, which reminds me my own childhood in South-Estonia, Soviet Union,  and those elderly people, who lived in countryside in these times. That kind of relationship, which, according to Estonian author Valdur Mikita, reaches to Neolithic Era, is going to die out (at least in Estonia) with last generation (people now in their 80s), mainly because of the victory of global capitalism in 1989. 

PS: There is smoke coming out of a chimney in Chernobyl, as you can see in the picture. Any ideas, what is going on there?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ideological exploitation of landscape
Recently there was a Facebook wave of sharing a comparative image "Forest in winter vs Estonian flag". The image is like this:
I think it is a good example of landscape turning into ideology or the ideological content of landscape itself. Estonian flag has institutional background as it derives from the flag of Estonian Students Society, created in 1884. The meaning of the tricolour is stated by Estonian Students Society as following: 
Blue - belief and hope for the future of Estonian nation; loyality
Black - the dark and painful past of Estonian nation; the soil of homeland
White - motivation for educational and mental development of Estonian nation; also snow and white nights; the white peel of Estonian birch trees.
So, landscape has no straight link with the tricolour. In 19th c. context, landscape has a specific meaning, mainly it`s related with enjoyment - a painting on wall or a nice view of nature. Enjoyed and controlled by the privileged class, of course - by a romantic wanderer, poet, landlord, etc. Just like this:
 Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), painting by Caspar David Friedrich
"This is not a wanderer, this is a conqueror!" said my friend Luca, when i showed him picture of this painting, after discussion on legendary Estonian poet Juhan Liiv and his poem "Wanderer". That poem is also something that makes questions on ideological exploitation of a content or the presence of ideology inside the content. "Wanderer" (and also Juhan Liiv) is in almost every Estonian`s heart, but the poem and the poet have a controversial exclusive-but-marginal position. Like the landscape "forest in winter". It addresses human condition, also human`s relation with nature and landscape such a way that it cannot be considered as nationalist propaganda, written by a hegemonist intellectual. (It must come from pre-ideological consciousness. Is such thing possible?) But it`s clear that it can be portrayed and exploited as such.
What is the wanderer doing, when standing on the mountain top and looking over the foggy Bohemian landscape? Observing the perishes of Austrian Empire, covered by fog, which signifies the multiculturality, ethnic diversities! And he, the German, is above it all! For him the sky is clear and the sun is shining!
Singaporean psychogeographer Debbie Ding has interpreted the wanderer of Caspar David Friedrich in a very proper way (link), projecting him as a colonizer and capitalist to views of London, Paris, Singapore. Yes, the wanderer has won, the contemporary world belongs to him. Wandering as capital accumulation!
"Colonize this" (2011) by chaneldior
The wanderer facing an empty landscape, which just coincidently refers to Estonian tricolour. What is he looking at? His lost colony or a potential market? National pride for Estonian birch trees? Or is it maybe contemporary Estonian society as a normal consequence of global capitalism - an empty and abandoned land, which is left behind by unemployed, underpaid and underdeveloped East-Europeans? The popularity of the landscape tricolour image speaks about the ongoing conservative turns and progress of nationalism (as emotional resistance to globalism) in Eastern-Europe that refer to the common need for security and identity. But not only. There is also this unexplainable matter, a specific relation with nature, which quickly dissolves into East-European syndrome - an irrational will and inability to make onself understandable and acceptable to the great master - the Western Society.
The same wanderer appears in a landscape painting of Estonian artist Kiwa - in his paintings, digital landscape photos (but also sounds, videos) have been deconstructed by functional misinterpretation technique (photos, sounds and videos are opened by a text program). 
Fragment of painting from exhibition "Wildlife documentaries", Kiwa, Draakon Gallery, Tallinn, 2010
In discourse of pre-semiotics vs semiotics the wanderer refers to the relation between language and its resources, or the end of language, chaos. But in current context he is himself - the capital owner - observing the flooding information and chaotic file sharing, which has turned into religion (Church of Kopimism) already. But he has the ACTA in his pocket and the chaotic text landscapes are like swampy Oderbruch area, waiting for human hand! Walter Benjamin has written that an ecstatic encounter of masses and technology is like copulation - and index of sexual deliht and the birth of something new.   
The flag of Soviet Estonia has a straight and intentional reference to landscape:  
The seawaves refer to the main identity basement of the whole region. But the image also speaks about the political status of the country: under the rule of soviet symbolics, the flag has pan slavic colors - red, blue, white.
 FIRE SALAMANDER
This is a fragment from Old City Hall of Bratislava. How did the fire salamander get into architecture? Well, Central-European forests, covered with dry leaves, are the home for this creature. Aswell as the entire Europe to the south or west from the Carpathians. Fire salamander is the natural source for mythological creatures, symbolics, ideologies, etc. The animal itself (salamandra salamandra) is a black lizard with yellow spots, which in the head area are poisonous. It burns, when you touch. Because this lizard has seen the fire.
In mythology, salamander is the one, who is guarding deep caves with gold and silver melting together in the deep of earth. Therefore, basilisk is coming as the owner of the worst poison, which has also power to return life when it has passed in special cases, and which is associated with philosophers stone. Basilisk - the king of snakes, or the dragon. Together with salamander, they handled the treasures, as salamander could stand the powerful fire of basilisk, the fire, that could turn anything to gold (reference to Nina T).  Who was the owner of those underworld treasures? Of course, all such treasures belong to dwarfs. The germanic dwarfs! 
It is an historical interpretation and a symbolic legitimation act that the colors of Habsburg flag correspond to the colors of Holy Roman Empire`s coat of arms. In this case there is also another layer of reality. The Habsburg empire can be compared with fire salamander, a site specific creature, that`s mythology reflects the Habsburg identity quite well. Basilisk is universal symbol of The Other, mainly a hostile force or an enemy. Killing a basilisk is a common symbolic act of taking power, creating a kingdom, spreading an empire. Its represented in symbolics of many countries. Not in Habsburg Empire, which was an extremely diverse and multicultural area. In this empire basilisk and fire salamander live together, basilisk creates wealth and salamander protects it. Everything is owned by a dwarf. Or not. That is still a question, whether Austrian identity can be linked with dwarfs. Lets call it a silent presence of a dwarf. Probably the empire is most comparable with the basilisk itself, a german dwarf, who has gone too far to the east and is protecting himself with fire salamander, the site specific content, a lot of nations, who he uses and exploits as a shield against Russian and Ottoman empires.
Here is a legend from Vienna about basilisk as mythological creature living in a well. The basilisk is killed with a mirror. This story probably refers to real estate issues.

 Basilisk; Old City Hall of Bratislava

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Dwarf goes through Hungary
(translation from Estonian)

From a green morning soil

on a field,

in maize leaf shades,

the sniper rises from the east,

and chariot is golden.

And roads all in dust

and sledges rolling over,

the märd is singing
like the nürd -

a foggy, hilly promise!


If you
brought a donkey there

he is going in the front

of burden,

tanks and pieces,
gentlemen


the basket squat releases
in maize leaf shades,
one is hiding in a box,
and fresh is mind,

in this cucumber field.
Already someone rises there,
under sharpened sky,
above a little lake
it makes a turn,
for a while,
sterna hirundo
from Emajõgi,
that`s who it is,
Im all happy, so...
well...hello.. hello!

the song

Link

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Danube under Margit Hid, Budapest


Everything runs into Emajõgi

Emajõgi (direct translation from Estonian: mother river), the pulsating vessel that runs through Tartu and distinguishes the North and East European landscape paradigms (in my opinion South Estonia belongs to the inland paradigm that covers the eastern part of the Baltic States, Poland, European Russia, Belarus, North Ukraine). The huge inner European rivers begin from South Estonia, Emajõgi on top, just like a monument. Rivers are earth`s blood vessels, carrying the same stream. It`s not just a romantic translation of reality, but it`s something that goes on in language and consciousness, in the cultural layer of landscape.

Emajõgi in German is Embach. There are several villages named like that around München and Innsbruck. Emajõgi in Latvian is Mètra, it`s direct translation is peppermint, Mentha Piperita in Latin. All roads lead to Rome and from Rome to Ancient Greece, so you can see how Mentha Piperita transforms into Mintha, the underworld goddesses, associated with underworld rivers, like Kokytos. If we leave this track and try another association Mètra - Mithra, we will face a specific Persian religion, the cult of Mithra. In Aquincum, on the shore of Danube, there used to be the temple of Mithra, built by Roman soldiers from eastern areas of the empire.


A holy place, set up by trees around an amphitheatre, which i rather see as a signifier of the Mètra cult

Does it mean that all associations, all the roads lead to Rome? It`s up to us to decide, if we want to give ourselves to the historical narrative and support the institutional set-up of reality, or if all these villages around München and Innsbruck are dedicated to Emajõgi and so is the Mithra (Mètra) temple in Aquincum? Rivers are older than culture. Emajõgi and Danube speak the same language and flow in the same direction, from west to east, though Danube has got more spacial influences, it can speak in different dialects. It starts from the Black Forest, in Central-Europe, it`s water is blue-green and the stones in it`s bottom are white, though near the delta it`s quite similar to Emajõgi in it`s delta. It`s like a mirror effect - to the North from Emajõgi delta, there is Varnja village on the shore of lake Peipus; to the South from Danube delta, there is Varna city on the shore of Black Sea. Emajõgi is still like a miniature monument of Danube, or on contrary - it`s the result of something that happened in Black Forest and that flew into Black Sea.



Thursday, November 17, 2011


Choose your favourite topic: a) this lizard, living on the banks of Miljacka river or; b) the assassination of Franz Ferdinand; or c) the siege of Sarajevo?


The Balkans

Almost any thought, any fantasy, any picture about the Balkans is a clichè. All the chauvinist labels like "there wouldn`t be Europe without the Balkans", all the stories about the blood-thirsty, but oh-how-nice people, about Balkanese hospitality, sense of humour, whatever, do not only refer to the fact that the Balkans don`t exist, but say it`s more important to understand the need for reconsideration of the concept of Europe. I don`t think that such reconsideration would come from social and political grounds only - in such cases it would be an exchange of power and equalizations in consumerism, everything driven by progress fetish in urban context. It is about reducing the desire for power and rethinking welfare. The only positive programme i have is the rhetorics of landscape - to make human activity follow the language of nature. In the future there will be an utopian borderless post-Schengen condition, where all the human culture related problems are solved by the language of nature, and the only borders would be natural borders. The infrastructures will be completely different - sotries about aeroplanes and autobahns will remain in fairy tales. It should be taken as a symptom that in today`s fairy tales, we meet Balkanese men with long tails, and stories about how they in the Balkans kill rats! The exploitation (ironic or not - whatever!) of chauvinist ideology and the patronizing balkanization in favor or art production is still no 1 hit in contemporary artworld.

Friday, September 16, 2011




Slovakia. The change of landscape paradigm is measurable already on the way to Bratislava. It is the area of tilia cordata (area, where slavic and germanic cultures meet) and smelly forests of pinus sylvestris.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011



All rivers are connected with each other. If you dive deep into Danube and listen to the thousands of tones coming from thousands of rivers, you can hear the weak sound of Emajõgi aswell. It is right in the middle of Danube, in the very bottom, where the water is dark and muddy. In this darkness you can meet your internal forms, the electricity.



The landscape around Vienna seems to be a non-place, a buffer zone, scaffolding for the Carpathians and the Carpathian basin, the Alps and the Balkans. It is fusion landscape. Benedikt was right, it`s a zone for raurakl.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Landscape view to the east from Vienna. Behind those hills you can imagine endless steppes and nomads travelling with their cattle. There are sunflower fields and blue skies above it, and black sea behind it all, even behind the sky. Iron curtains used to be like radiation that you cannot sense anyhow. Now the curtains have turned into fundamental paradigms of Europe or the entire world. The face of these paradigms is the landscape. This is the typical border area between east and west, the end of germanic landscape paradigm (the end of green beech forests and Alps, the end of dwarves, jodelkönigs, bratwurst and pumpernickel, etc). The border area is wide and diverse. It is not a straight flatland nor a hilly area, it is more like a non-place, where identity searches for host, where desires are constantly travelling.
Here and there you can face everything - imperialist architecture, grapeyards, garden dwarfs, raurakls, little mozarts singing in the moonlight, the last dwarf digging gold and pumpernickel from ground, populus trees, enormous Donau, etc. Some days ago i found a huge plastic bag full of white paprikas in the bus station of Südtiroler platz. Possibly signifying the presence of the Balkans. It is possible that all the dwarf legends come from the Balkan mountains. The little people working in mountain mines. The multicultural history of Vienna is long. It is the zone of the metamorphosis of dwarf. From now on i will start posting the material proof.

An evil dwarf from my home street