Climate change, identity, emotional burnout: Foto Tallinn 2021 is embracing a new generation of photographers whose work is both aesthetically striking and socially timely.
Taking place between 2–5 September at the city’s Kai Art Center, the exhibition marks the beginning of the 6th Tallinn Photomonth Biennial — a four-week series of art shows, talks, and cultural events. Featuring 37 participants from Estonia and beyond, Foto Tallinn 2021 wants to use this as an opportunity to discuss the contemporary social issues raised in the artists’ work.
The exhibition includes the work of Iveta Gabaliņa, a Latvian photographer whose series Roll, roll morning dew explores the sacred nature of pirts, or Latvian saunas, with mute-coloured landscapes and lone bathers. Estonian photographer Kristina Õllek also takes the natural world as inspiration: her photographs, far away from focusing on natural purity, centre on the man-made landscape changes of the North Sea, captured through pictures of slowly-growing salt crystals.
Many photographers also explore tangible things and the state of being. In his series Half Empty, Half Full, Lithuania-born, Amsterdam-based photographer Vitautas Kumža blends sculpture and photography in images with three-dimensional, human-like figures designed to capture our mental state during daily physical activities. Meanwhile, Tallinn-based artist Cloe Jancis explores the concept of the female body, personal and private spaces through images of women trapped in clothing.
“I wanted to showcase work by artists who reflect upon the instability of the world today,” curator Isabella van Marle told The Calvert Journal. “Global social issues such as the pandemic and climate change have had severe impacts on our societies, so it makes sense that the selected artists and galleries aspire to shed light on important social questions.”