Marje Taska and Reet Varblane
Britta Benno, Flo Kasearu ja Elīna Vītola, Madleen Hirtentreu, Raul Keller, Kirke Kangro, Fideelia-Signe Roots, Jüri Ojaver, Urmas Lüüs, Jonas Johansson (Rootsi), Edith Karlsson, Tanja Muravskaja ja Mikk Madisson.
Centre for Semiotic Applications, University of Tartu
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.
Power and power relations are not embedded only in large ruling structures, like states and corporations, it can be found in the smallest, most intimate groups (families, relationships), within people themselves. In the same way one can talk about the power of things, the power of people over nature and the power of nature over people. Power is not only something negative and alienating, wise power always retains spirit and does not lack force.
Kadriorg Park works as a symbol of power on all levels: the park as a man-made biological community; Kadriorg Palace, built by Peter I, as a sign of foreign power; the Presidential Palace as the embodiment of political power; the main building of the Art Museum of Estonia, Kumu, as a sign of power in the art world. None of these levels embody mere hierarchy or alienation: the park brings people together and it includes areas where the natural environment can evolve and function freely; the institution of the president has a diplomatic, conciliatory function; a contemporary art museum is a democratic multifunctional place that unites artists and their audience.
The collaborative work by the curators serves as an introduction to the exhibition „The Power“. Like at the previous exhibitions in Võru and Tartu it is created by Marje Taska and installed by Reinhold Rutks. At the exhibition „The Force“ the curators visualised the concept of force as a small silvery manuscript scroll with text from „Sanctus praesens“. The concept of spirit was materialised as a Modernist machine which was fifty times larger and communicated the message of the exhibition with "Pax in sancto present" in telegraph code. The symbol of „The Power“, the wheel of power with scythe blades, can be seen as an equivalent of the absurdity of the extreme desire for power. It stands four metres high over a canal near the Information Point in Kadriorg Park.
The works can be divided into three categories: the artists' meditations on current power relations in human society, whether in politics or art life; interpretations of the relations between man and nature caused by the Anthropocene and their consequences; the third category would include the works with a so-called open meaning, where human society and the natural environment are mixed and which can be interpreted through power relations in both nature and society.
The objects „A Cup „ (2012) and „Moscow“ (2023) by Jüri Ojaver, displayed in the Information Point of Kadriorg Park, are an ironic, even tragicomic comment on ambitions to rule the world that have grown from theoretical speculation into our everyday fear during the war in Ukraine.
With his installation „I Scream, You Scream“, two giant balloons that landed on the shoulders of the sculpture of Apollo Belvedere near Kumu, Raul Keller urges us to think about the complicated relations between symbolic power and real power over the art world and also about power itself and the changing meaning of beauty. Kirke Kangro's stone cameras, „petrified and mutated security cameras“ as the artist calls them („Secure Eternity“, 2023), are displayed next to a real camera. The work questions the validity of surveillance society, refutes the power control and highlights the eternity of the aesthetic.
Edith Karlson's statue „Peeing Woman“ comments on the advantageous position in the patriarchal world that men enjoy to this day. Mikk Madisson is ironic about restrictions that come with age and the compulsion of group think.
Madlen Hirtentreu's installation „Karma. The Next Generation“ is a tribute to creatures near the bottom of the food pyramid – earthworms. Flo Kasearu's and Elīna Vītola's ticks on the mirror and the sculpture of Milo Venus in Kadriorg Palace entrance hall can be viewed as a metaphor for parasitic human society and also as an act of recognition of the place of parasites in the ecosystem.
Fideelia-Signe Roots meditates on rules and regulations and overprotection as a harmful aspect of power. Her 'bird feeding place' („Power of Protection“) does not invite the visitors to overstep rules but to pay attention to the real needs of other living beings.
Urmas Lüüs's hybrid object („A Border Pole“) refers to the power of both down-town (the city centre) and 'higher-town' (Lasnamäe district on Lasnamäe klint) over the yet uninhabited areas of Lasnamäe as well as the power of nature over the borders established by people.
Britta Benno's installation „Sad Princess“ near Kadriorg Art Museum is not nostalgic about the era when the grotto, a sign of elite culture, was built in the park, rather she is critical of the will of people who change nature as best suits them.
Light is the main theme of the works of Swedish artist Jonas Johansson. His interactive installation „Slightly Twisted“ (on the foundation of an abandoned fountain near the Information Point in Kadriorg Park) is not just a hymn to the power of light, it is also a call for cooperation, or dance, as he calls it, with light in order to say farewell to summer and light.
A video by Tanja Muravskaja, displayed in room of president Konstantin Päts in Kadriorg Art Museum, completes the exhibition. Kersti Kaljulaid, the only woman president in the history of Estonia, discusses ways to fill power with wise spirit and true force. At the end of the trilogy „A Baton from Kütiorg to Kadriorg. The Force. The Spirit. The Power“, the curators and artists will make a joint trip to an oak grove in Kütiorg to plant there an oak sapling that grew in Kadriorg Park. The power will return symbolically to the force.
The partners for „The Power“ are Kadriorg Park and Kadriorg Art Museum, the sponsors are the Estonian Cultural Endowment, Tallinn Culture & Sports Department, Tallinn European Green Capital 2023 and Kadriorg Park.