Marje Taska

Russian Roulette. Prelude to "Power"

Marje Taska's exhibition "Russian Roulette. Prelude to "Power"", as the title suggests, is prelude to the last part of the trilogy "Power"

Eduard Vilde Museum, August 5 – 31, 2023
Visiting artist Britta Marakatt-Labba; curator Reet Varblane; designer Ulla Juske; graphic designer Villu Plink; art technician Reinhold Rutks.

Marje Taska (b. 1955) has been active as an artist and curator in Sweden for the last two decades, earlier primarily in Malmö, now in Stockholm and also in Estonia, mostly in Tallinn. She has also run her exhibitions and curatorship projects in Võru, Narva, Kuressaare and Valga. Her solo exhibition "Mother_land" ran in the Barrel Gallery of Viinistu Art Museum in June and her early graphic art can currently be seen at the group exhibition of women graphic artists "Through the Black Gorge of Your Eyes" in Kumu.

The Castellan House exhibition "Russian Roulette" engages with the topic of power. Power is an attribute of self-establishment, a premise of ruling over somebody or something. Power is a relationship with somebody or something. Any structure needs this in order to function, but it is also dangerous, tempting, seductive, terrible and frightening, suppressive, controlling. Marje Taska is less interested in the public manifestation of power than in its undercurrents, its modus operandi that remains out of reach and beyond comprehension for the members of society. In her own words: "We're living in a treacherous time when our existence as a social group is in question. Many of us have no time to read the news or don't trust it. The corridors of power are long and secretive. Who are the actual decision makers? What's going on around us and our planet? Do we know the whole truth?"

The work "Russian Roulette", composed of two objects, a red and a black relief, serves as an introduction to the Castellan House exhibition. Russian roulette, the game that common sense perceives as a pointless endangering of life can be viewed as behaviour on the verge of absurdity, a self-destructive urge, an aversion to everyday routine and orderliness, as well as resistance to the highest power (human life that manifests as God as the highest principle or natural sanctity) and a tempting of fate.

The topic of memory has always been important for Marje Taska: in the context of the topic of power she views the struggle for power as a struggle with memory. Either direct or metaphoric relationships between memory and power can be identified in the series of reliefs, regressing in scale: in the installation about earth and gold in the series "Mother_land" (2001) and in several paintings on wood in the series "Participation Mystique" (2021-2023).

Marje Taska's "Russian Roulette" is compiled of older and newer works, some never seen in Tallinn before, some recently exhibited in the solo exhibition in Viinistu. The power of art is not only concealed in the institutions and personalities of the art world. Gallery spaces, the selection and arrangement of works contribute to the power games of the art world too.

The visiting artist of "Russian Roulette" is the Swedish Saami artist Britta Marakatt-Labba (1951) who Marje Taska had wanted to pass the "baton" over to already in "The Force" in Võru. Understandably, aboriginal nations and neocolonialism are trending topics in contemporary art. The stitched narratives of Marakatt-Labba, Saami life, activism, the synthesis of history and mythology are increasingly attracting the attention of big biennales and museums and the artist was unable to join her old friend in Võru. In the Castellaan House exhibition Marakatt-Labba displays her serigraphies based on her stitched stories; this time, the visit of the curators of the project “The Baton from Kütiorg to Kadriorg” to the artist place in northern Sweden was cancelled by the power of fate. The serigraphies were purchased from the Helle Knudsen Gallery in Stockholm. The change of medium and the subsequent lowering of the price of the works allow for discussion of the power of consumer society and buyer-friendly price policy. Next to Britta Marakatt- Labba's serigraphies is Marje Taska's hommage to her colleague and the Saami people: a synthesis of reality and mythology painted on wood in the work "Sápmi" (a Saami inhabited territory stretching from Norway to Russia).

Reet Varblane

Marje Taska was born in 1955 in Tallinn. She graduated from Tallinn Music High School majoring in piano and studied German studies at the University of Tartu. She started her art studies with Tõnis Vint, and she was his first student. After moving to Stockholm in 1982, she has lived in Lapland and South Sweden. The current hometown is Stockholm.

Marje Taska's art career has been active and versatile. She works with installation, print making, leather art, painting, performance,and sculpture. Her work has been shown in Malmö Konsthall, Lunds Konsthall, Röhsska museum, Göteborg; Konstens Hus, Luleå; Liljevalchs konsthall, Stockholm, Arkitekturmuseet, Stockholm; Grand Palais (FIAC, Figuration Critique, La Biennale des Femmes), Paris; ETDM, Tallinn; Kumu, Tallinn, Tallinn Art Hall, etc. She has curated several projects, created monumental art works, given lectures and introduced Estonian art in Swedish media. Marje Taska belongs to the Estonian and Swedish artists union.

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