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17 May 2009

Estonian Pavilion at 53rd Venice Biennale

© Kristina Norman
Action on the Victory Day 2009
Photo credits: Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo



June 7 - November 22, 2009

Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 6 pm


Palazzo Malipiero,
San Marco 3079,

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Kristina Norman's project After-War will represent Estonia at the 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. The exposition at the Estonian Pavilion is curated by Marco Laimre and commissioned by the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia.

Kristina Norman belongs to the generation that entered the art scene in the '00s. She deals with political, provocative, documentary and research-based art. Norman's work is highly context-centred and has grown from her immediate surroundings. After-War is a comprehensive installation environment comprised of videos, photographs and objects in five separate spaces.

The installation is based on a specific event and the issues surrounding it that must be regarded as the most traumatic event in Estonian society since the restoration of independence in 1991, and one which aroused the most public discussion.

In April 2007, the Estonian government removed a monument commonly referred to as the 'Bronze Soldier' from a prominent place in the centre of Tallinn, where it had stood since 1947. The memorial, officially called 'The Monument to the Liberators of Tallinn', was dedicated to the Red Army soldiers who fell during what in Russia is known as The Great Patriotic War (WWII), but for most Estonians this memorial was a symbol of Soviet occupation. The monument was removed from its original site and relocated 2.5 km away at the military cemetery. The original location was then planted with low shrubs and flowers as if there had never been a monument there. This 'psycho-geographical' manoeuvre carried out by the Estonian government provoked protest by the Russian-speaking community and was followed by two nights of rioting on the streets of Tallinn. Using the concept of a memory community, Kristina Norman describes and analyses past events and proposes subsequent cultural practice. The title of the work After-War is a reference to the idea that the war is over, but the conflict still continues.

Kristina Norman (1979, works and lives in Tallinn):
Kristina Norman has studied at the Estonian Academy of Arts and worked as an art teacher. She is currently working on a feature-length documentary film about the makers of the monument to the Estonian War of Independence. Since 2006, she has participated in international exhibitions and festivals: in 2006 she represented Estonia at the Modern Art Oxford in Arrivals>Art from the New Europe with her documentary film The Pribalts; in 2007 she took part in the Biennale of Young Artists, Tallinn with an experimental documentary film, Monolith; in 2008 she was included in the 5th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art with a pseudo documentary film titled The Field of Genius.

Marco Laimre (1968, works and lives in Tallinn):
Since 1994 Marco Laimre has worked as an artist and curator. Since 2005, he has worked at the Estonian Academy of Arts as professor of photography, and since 2006, has been a member of the board of the Estonian Museum of Contemporary Art.

Curator: Marco Laimre
Commissioner: Johannes Saar, head of the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia
Deputy Commissioner: Elin Kard, Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia
Exhibition team: Art Allmägi, Andres Amos, Andris Brinkmanis, Edith Karlson, Jass Kaselaan, Raul Keller, Meelis Muhu, Jaak Soans, Taivo Timmusk, Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo

Publication: The exhibition is accompanied by a substantial catalogue with texts illustrated by the artist. In this publication, the After-War project and the conflict surrounding the monument are discussed by Alexander Astrov, philosopher and lecturer in International Relations and European Studies at the CEU; Airi Triisberg, cultural theorist; Andres Kurg, architectural theorist; Marco Laimre and Kristina Norman.