ТОК will curate the main exhibition of the Tallinn Photomonth biennial

The 6th edition of Tallinn Photomonth, the city’s contemporary art biennial, will take place between September 1 and October 17, 2021. 

The new directors of the biennial, Kulla Laas and Merilin Talumaa, together with a selection committee, are pleased to announce Creative Association of Curators TOK as the winners of a closed curatorial competition for the biennial’s main exhibition that will be presented at Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) for the duration of the biennial. 


According to Kulla Laas and Merilin Talumaa, this year “PhotoMonth” and its main exhibition will contribute to the establishment of closer cooperation between the art and cultural communities of the Baltic region and Russia. New connections will be created through the participation of Russian artists in the biennial and invitations of Estonian artists to create new works and projects with a focus on the history and contemporary urban context of Estonia. Also, for the first time, curators from Russia were invited to develop the concept of the main exhibition. The exhibition and symposium will bring together artists and researchers from different countries - from Sudan to Ireland - who, in their practice, turn to the issues of decolonizing architecture and abandoning the hierarchical approach to the formation of urban spaces and communities.


The curatorial proposal by TOK was selected in close connection with this year’s conceptual framework of the biennial that has its focus on coping and adaptation, and the development of community during a challenging time of significant change. 


When discussing its curatorial concept TOK stated,

‘Our main goal is to find answers to the question "how to prepare for the future that will be based on the principles of interdependency and new ways of cohabitation?” As a method to search for a new cognitive apparatus to unpack and explain the past and current reality, we are inspired by the idea of “intensive places”, a term that builds up on the principles of humanitarian geography and is coined by the Russian philosopher and media researcher Mikhail Kurtov. An “intensive place” is a power place, from where processes begin from and where they are retained, where experiences are connected and from where they move on to other contexts, where previously not-connected actions and ideas gather and transform into new concepts that help generate new knowledge and modes of being. 

By mapping and unpacking the “intensive places” we’ll be undertaking the following research directions and problematics: political imaginary and decoloniality in architecture; intersectionality and urban planning; industrial heritage and its ecological traces; public and private spaces and the hidden universes between’.

Originating in St Petersburg, TOK was co-founded in 2010 by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits as a platform for interdisciplinary research-based projects in the field of contemporary art, architecture, design and social science. The curatorial collective endeavour to challenge the borders of the art territory and seek new ways to foster social change through diverse formats of curatorial strategy, artistic production and institutional format. 

The main exhibition of Tallinn Photomonth 2021 curated by TOK, will also significantly direct the public and educational programme branching from it, and provide a contextual framework for other sections of the biennial. In addition to the main exhibition at EKKM, the curators will contribute to the theme and list of invited performers of the biennial symposium, taking place for the first time in the biennial’s programme in collaboration with the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center (ECADC)

The selection committee of the Tallinn Photomonth 2021 curatorial competition included curator and writer Anna Goetz, PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University and Institute for Comparative Literature and Society Gustav Kalm, Director at Kai Art Center and Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center Karin Laansoo, Project Manager and Curator at EKKM Laura Toots and Directors of the Tallinn Photomonth 2021 Kulla Laas and Merilin Talumaa.


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