A tale of two exhibitions

  • 2009-03-11
  • By Jana Belugina

EDGE OF ART: KUMU is the leading art museum in the country and often has new, controversial exhibits to exlore.

TALLINN - It seems that the leading Art Museum of Estonia will never stop surprising its visitors. Exhibitions are changing all the time 's one can pass by any time and find some new installation or thematic collection on display at KUMU.

The greatest advantage of KUMU is its size. A full five floors allow the museum to exhibit lots of different material at the same time, allowing for a great amount of variety and diversity in its art.
This spring, aside from the permanent exhibitions there are two recently opened art installations that are very different from each others. When visited during the same day, the two exhibitions create an interesting feeling of an absolute contradiction.

The first one is an exhibition dedicated to floral motifs from the Renaissance period to the modern today. "Floromania" spans across the entire Great Hall on the first floor of the Art Museum.
This exhibition is interesting because the art pieces exhibited here are very different; each piece is derived from different fields of art and different time periods. The only thing that connects each piece of art is the flower theme.

There are various paintings of flowers, as well as sculptures, installations and a variety of craft objects capturing the flower theme, ranging from elegant porcelain dishes and silverware to carpets.
As the description of the exhibition suggests, "in the Middle Ages, each blossom was a religious symbol, but flowers have also been used to send messages of love and intimacy. Through images of flowers, it is easy to comprehend the mentality of an era, the aesthetic ideals, hobbies and even the social relations characteristic of the time."

Another absolutely different and much more dynamic exhibition is the Ars Fennica 2008 Award 's located on the top floor of the museum. Ars Fennica is a famous Finnish award that has been presented every year since 1991.

The award is unique in that it can be given to anyone 's be it an already professional artist or just a beginner. The overall achievements of an artist are taken into account in giving out the award.
The exhibition of the candidates for the Ars Fennica award were previously displayed in the Amos Anderson Art Museum in Helsinki, but now this collection has arrived at Tallinn's Kumu Art Museum. The winner will be chosen later this year by Hou Hanru, an art critic and curator at the San Francisco Art Institute.

The last time an Estonian Artist was presented the award was in 1994, though this year Mark Raidpere from Tallinn has earned a place among the finalists. Raidpere is being honored for a video installation that was compiled from three videos of his parents and his father alone.
Latvian artist Katrina Neiburga has also presented three videos, one of which shows an extract from an experiment with a female taxi driver.

A very controversial 's even bordering on scandalous 's installation has been made by the Finnish artist Tea Makipaa. The installation has been named "Motocalypse Now."
The installation consists of two old Mercedes-Benz cars, one of which is burning (with the help of alcohol spread across its surface) and the other is covered with genuine grass, flowers and a headstone suggesting that it is the tomb of a petrol fueled car.

Both of these exhibitions leave viewers with a strong emotional aftertaste and are sure to raise long-winded debates among all who visit the museum.