WOMAN BEHIND IT ALL: Silke Bake, the German mind behind Colina, says the show 'is a kind of research...It's not aiming to have a product.'
TALLINN - A man stumbles around a city block in Tallinn's Old Town, blindfolded by a hat pulled firmly over his eyes. On any other street, such a sight might be unusual. But this street is home to Kanuti Gildi Saal, where the abstract is usual. That is especially true this week, when Tallinn's renowned arts factory is over-run by expressionists with no other agenda than to experiment. The four floors of Kanuti Gildi Saal are entirely devoted to experimentation. In this inspirational utopia, nothing is deemed too obscure or abstract for public presentation.
"Nothing" is the key word. Twenty artists from across Europe have come to Kanuti to participate in a project with no end production, no strict schedule, no final goal 's nothing.
The project is called Colina 's Collaboration in Arts. It's a two week workshop where performers can brainstorm and experiment ideas with other artists, without the pressure of coming up with a final product.
There will be a public showing of some sorts on Aug. 5, when the doors of Kanuti will be flung open to the public. But what is created between the start and finish 's if anything - is entirely undecided.
"The artists can try out different ideas, different approaches. Every artist is feeding back their experiences, and they may appear in specific productions later on," explains Silke Bake, Colina's curator. She looks as if she's had to explain the concept several times to non-artistic types who can't fathom the point.
The man stumbling around the block blindfolded was attempting to interact with the city on a different level. Back inside the building, another artist is experimenting with two video cameras and television screens on a blank stage. Others have organized a "drumming" event where the building's walls and contents are used as a giant drum kit.
A large pinboard is covered with sheets of paper with possible workshop ideas. Most are esoteric, unexplainable, and unfinished 's and that's precisely the point.
"This is a kind of research," Bake says. "It's not aiming to have a product. I'm interested in working on ideas, and framing set-ups for artistic work. This is about how to work, not just the work itself."
It sounds a little indulgent, but Bake says there isn't enough of such introspection in the world of art.
"In every other field of study, research is considered essential. For art, you can only get funding for a project that has a production or artistic work at the end of it. There seems to be no time for enlarging research ideas."
Bake, a German living in Vienna, describes herself as a "dramaturge" 's someone who works with a theater or dance company to help shape its direction and provide an outside perspective.
She speaks glowingly of Tallinn's Kanuti, an arts center that has a growing reputation across Europe as a powerhouse of ideas. Bake says its Kanuti's open door attitude that inspires such creativity. Artists are given free reign, even keys to the building.
"For me, Kanuti seems to be a special place. In the long term, it will influence the work that happens here. You can't separate the conditions of working from the artwork itself."
So what will be on display to the public at 4 p.m. on Aug. 5? "It will be a showing of art in progress," Bake explains. Don't come expecting an exhibit, a performance, or even any recongizable form of art. Like the artists themselves, come to Colina expecting nothing, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.
Colina (Collaboration in Arts) open house Kanuti Gildi Saal, Pikk 20
More info: www.colinatallinn.com