October 2008


So after a hard days’ installation and a long opening, the exhibition “A Moskvitch in Havana” is now open in the Tallinn Art Academy’s Ülemine Gallery.

 

You can see it during Art Academy opening hours, but for those of you outside of Tallinn, please cut & paste the following link to see the exhibits:

Robin Thomson "Untitled"

 

 Film Still, Robin Thomson

Film Still, Robin Thomson

 

 

Not all of us are yet in Tallinn though, with the other exhibitors working away in Scotland and Germany. News reaches us from the former DDR of some demonic experiments with a second hand Super-8 camera, in Robin Thomson’s studio. He writes:

In my studio-head right now there is a strange mixture of feelings, images and nostalgias prompted by recent things: perpetual escalators, city perspectives from late night roof-top car parks, early morning ‘Flohmarkts’ (i.e. a Turkish man selling a diapositive projector for only ten cents), late-night ‘Sperrmühl’ hunting, the ware-house Bauhaus-become library (actual Titanic house of reproducible objects) where I do my research. Super 8 equipment given to me by a Herr Volmeister that was probably locked up in his cellar for more than thirty years, that inspired a nostalgia for the Mechanical Age of film–– being able to see the wheels turning the reelsrunning the images; slowing it down manually, speeding it up–– but soon faded or rather flopped as I realized the shortcomings of the ancient rubber drive-belts. I developed a special relationship with a young oak tree, inspired partly by a visit to and subsequent photos of the ‘Stadtgarten’, a small paradise of domesticated flora I spotted housed and spotlighted in a corner of the mega-ware-house, and also in part by baking potatoes for the public. A story in the local paper that reviled the defunct bicycles and street signs sunk in the city-river. Digitally transferred footage of an unknown voyage to Italy in 1976, with Fleetwood Mac playing soothingly in the background, from which I put together a surrealist-like film of architectural acrobatics; many storied buildings concertinaing from baroque windows and towers descending from their steeples. Whether its transitory verbs, automobiles, escalators, temperamental projectors or garden shed tools, its nothing short of a Ballardian-Macluhan melange of prophesizing urbanality. 

So, then days to go until opening night, and things are beginning to come together in the studio.

Two of the exhibiting artists have been working for the past while in a studio at Telliskivi. Given the subject matter of the exhibition, the location couldn’t really be more ideal. The top end of Telliskivi is a crossroads, with railway sidings and tram lines dividing the tourist crowds of the Old Town from the pleasant wooden houses, and industrial archaeology, of the Kalamaja district.

From Our Studio Window

From Our Studio Window

The studio is part of a huge former Soviet factory and living space. Formerly each floor of these large-ish tower blocks was filled with light engineering and food processing enterprises, as well as flats for the workers who staffed them. Now, in a rather desolate state, the floors in the more serviceable buildings still serve as flats or small businesses; in two of the more crumbling blocks, the cold, drafty spaces form perfect studios for an ever changing cast of aspirant hard rockers, drum classes, and artists. The only permanent residents seem to be a large family of fierce and human-wary black-and-white cats.

 

Telliskivi Studios

Telliskivi Studios

 

Despite some not very good versions of Born to Run etc. being frequently audible from neighbouring spaces, the studio itself is pretty good for making art; well lit throughout the day and north-west facing. Most of the Soviet debris has been cleared away ( a huge windowless room upstairs is stacked high with cheap 1980s office furniture, broken brown carpet tiles and old sofas). 

In this space two of the artists who are exhibiting have been pulling together work for the show; the others will be bringing their stuff with them, shortly, for installation week next week.

Casey Campbell working on her painting "Aia 10 Uheksa Viis"

Casey Campbell working on her painting

 

David Anderson and his pinball machine

David Anderson and his pinball machine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disused Bridge over main courtyard, Telliskivi

Disused Bridge over main courtyard, Telliskivi

A Moskvitch in, er, Tartu

A Moskvitch in, er, Tartu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next week we will be looking at all five artists in a little more detail.