Installation on Soviet-Era Gay Man to Represent Estonia at the 56th Venice Biennale ({{commentsTotal}})


“NSFW: From the Abyss of History,” by Estonian artist Jaanus Samma and Italian curator Eugenio Viola, will represent Estonia at next year's Venice Biennale, it was announced this week. 

"The project is a cross-media installation that uses the personal history of one man in Soviet-era Estonia to create a new perspective on events in Estonians’ recent past, raising questions about power, violence, persecution and the individual’s powerlessness in hardline political regimes that curtail human rights," it said. 

The project builds on Samma's 2013 project “Chairman. The Opera,” which won a number of prizes.

Samma has trained his lens on gay life in the Soviet era, when the community faced criminal sanctions, and the social conditions that influenced the subculture, with the goal of remembering and devoting attention to problems that have still not found a full answer today.

The central character in the exhibition is a successful kolkhoz chairman in the 1950s, who was sent to a prison camp for some 18 months for a homosexual relationship.

Samma (1982-) studied graphic art at the Estonian Academy of Arts and is currently working toward a doctorate in the same school’s art and design programe. He has taken part in many group exhibitions and appeared in solo exhibitions in Estonia and international venues since 2005. Samma's work can be viewed at

The Biennale di Venezia, held since 1895, is the oldest and largest international art forum in the world. Estonia has been taking part in Venice since 1997, making the 2015 pavilion the 10th one.

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