Jaan Toomik in Milano
Curated by Marco Scotini
Exhibition catalogue with contributions by Andris Brinkmanis, Marco Scotini, Hanno Soans.
October 29th – January 13th, 2013
The exhibition opens on Monday, 29 October 2012 at 18:30
Artra Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of the new season with the exhibition RUN by Jaan Toomik (1961), the first Italian retrospective of this foremost Estonian artist, produced in collaboration with the Estonian Centre for Contemporary Arts in Tallinn. Jaan Toomik's work has been exhibited in Italy on several earlier occasions: Venice Biennale 2003, Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation (2003 and 2008), Instant Europe at the Villa Manin and Progressive Nostalgia at the Pecci Museum. Toomik now returns to Italy with an exhibition entirely devoted to his many years of work.
Toomik took part in the collective exhibition October held at Artra in 2007, but on show this time is a wide range of works from 1995 to the present day, which include film, video and works on canvas, providing the Italian public with a comprehensive overview of Toomik's artistic career to date. The exhibition RUN, which is also the title of Toomik's most recent video from 2011, focuses on the artist's own personal biography as a moment of the construction of a post-socialist subjectivity or, more broadly, of a precarious, multiple and contemporary subjectivity.
Contrary to interpretations that have proposed an antagonistic relationship between history and naturalism, or those that have focused on psychologism, all of Toomik's work seems to be directed towards affirming an “art of presence” as a dimension that is not so much existential as political and social. The performative approach is central to the work (and always carried out by Toomik himself), but what it depicts is never an identity (which
is always declined), nor a form of belonging (never fulfilled). There is in Toomik a natural, anthropogenic, sort of life, which is restored to the centre of the polis: a transindividual, physical form of life, both enigmatic and common. The work 15-31 May 1992 (which refers to Manzoni's Artist's Shit) is, in this sense, a radical anticipation of his recent work.
Toomik always stages one-acters, with no apparent purpose or product: a gestuality in its pure state as the demonstration of an inability to speak. Repeated yet at the same time unique, the gestures display a corporeity common to the here and now determined by the action: frustrated by physical restrictions, naked and athletic. There is always a specific choreography, with a different environment (the frozen sea, a waterfall, the inside of a swimming pool) to encompass it, and a voice or sound track that triggers the potential nature of the gesture or stops or suspends it. This oscillation between stillness and motion, between canvas and still frame, is at the core of his entire work. Jaan Toomik responds to the grand gesture of socialist ideology by being “whatever” in any given moment.
The 50 seconds of video Jaan from 2001 are a prime example of this condition of time, as is his extraordinary fiction film Oleg (2010), which provides the pivot for the exhibition.
In the latest video RUN (2011), which provides the title for this current Milan exhibition, something seems to occur in opposition to the work Dancing Home, which brought Toomik fame in 1995. The continuous, low frequency noise in Dancing Home – the engine of a ship on the Baltic Sea – has been reduced in RUN to the silence of an empty and abandoned aerodrome. In this kind of theatrical arena there is no longer any ritual dance that is able to adapt to the association between noise and the rhythmic heartbeat that establishes itself there. Instead, there is a dull echo of feet that at first beat the ground, then of steps, which from one moment to the next tend to accelerate into a run, only to fade away in the interior of the dark tunnel of a hangar: brusquely, almost like the prelude to an end.
Galleria Artra is open Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. / 1 p.m. ; 3 p.m. / 7 p.m.
Address: Via Burlamacchi, 1, 20135 MILANO, +39.02.5457373
PUBLIC TALK at NABA Milano with Jaan Toomik (artist), Johannes Saar(director CCA Estonia), Marco Scotini (Director Visual, Multimedia and Performing Arts NABA) and Andris Brinkmanis (Lecturer NABA).
October 30th at 6 p.m. in Via Darwin 20, building G, Aula Spazio Elastico
Born in 1961 in Tartu, Estonia, Toomik lives and works in Tallinn where he teaches at the Estonian Academy of Arts. One of the most well known artists in the Estonian and international art scene, he has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in galleries, museums and institutions, among them: Ostalgia, New Museum, New York (2011), Rencontres Internationales, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010), Gender Check, MUMOK, Vienna (2009), YouPrison, Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, Turin (2008), Progressive Nostalgia, Prato (2007), 4th Berlin Biennale (2006), Instant Europe, Villa Manin and Dream Island, Riga (2004), Now What, BAK, Utrecht, 50th Venice Biennale, Sandretto Re Rebandengo Foundation Turin (2003), L'autre moitie de l'Europe, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (2000), After the Wall, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (1999-2000), 47th Venice Biennale, Site Santa Fe Biennial (1997), Manifesta 1, Rotterdam (1996), 22nd International of São Paulo (1994).