Flo Kasearu, Anu Vahtra and Kris Lemsalu, Photo by Kristina Õllek
Flo Kasearu, Anu Vahtra and Kris Lemsalu, Photo by Kristina Õllek

Estonian Pavilion

For the Performa 17 Biennial Performa presents the Estonian Pavilion Without Walls featuring newly commissioned performances by Flo Kasearu, Anu Vahtra, and Kris Lemsalu who will collaborate with New York-based musician and artist Kyp Malone. Vahtra’s project is based on the legacy of the legendary artist Gordon Matta-Clark and his group Anarchitecture; Kasearu presents a site-specific performance in the New York Estonian House, exploring the past and future stories of this members-only club; and Lemsalu and Malone will conceive a performance with ceramic costumes, music, and video projections.  

Since the declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia’s contemporary art scene has grown alongside a rapidly shifting society and steadily gaining an international profile. The Pavilion presents three of the most exciting contemporary artists from Estonia working today while showcasing the country’s rich but lesser known history of performance. As in many parts of the world, performance has proven to be a way for artists to find new modes of expression and political action through interdisciplinary art practices, particularly during the periods of occupation. Some of Estonia’s more established artists including Jaan Toomik, Ene-Liis Semper, Group T, and Raoul Kurvitz were at the forefront of the so-called “generation of winners,” bridging the gap between the communist past and capitalist future through new performance strategies that mixed traditional and contemporary aesthetics.

As part of the Performa Institute at the Performa 17 Hub, Anu Allas, art historian and curator at Kumu Art Museum, and Maria Arusoo, curator and Director of the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia, will give an overview of contemporary performance in Estonia. The Pavilion will also include a screening of video works by a variety of Estonian artists, as well as a curated selection of books for sale presented by the Estonian bookstore and publisher Lugemik, founded in 2010 by Anu Vahtra and Indrek Sirkel, the only art publisher in Estonia. As part of the Performa Consortium and the Pavilion Without Walls, Art in General will present an exhibition by Estonian artists Merike Estna and Maria Metsalu, curated by Maria Arusoo.

The Estonian Pavilion Without Walls is organized by Esa Nickle and Maaike Gouwenberg, with Curatorial Fellow Evelyn Raudsepp. Co-presented by the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center (ECADC). Partners: Kumu Art Museum, Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia, Art in General, the New York Estonian House. Supported by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, Outset Estonia, and the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center (ECADC).

Commissions and projects in the Estonian Pavilion Without Walls include:

  • Flo Kasearu
  • Kris Lemsalu in collaboration with Kyp Malone
  • Anu Vahtra
  • Call for Action: Key Moments in Estonian Performance Art 
  • Estonian Film Program