Soviet era rock music exhibition opens at Tallinn's Museum of Occupations

5/6/2015 3:05 PM
Category: Culture

Yesterday saw the opening of a new exhibition at the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, coinciding with the Year of Music in Estonia. Entitled "Forbidden Games", the exhibition takes into focus rock music in Soviet Estonia.

Tuesday's opening featured a concert performance by cult outfit MRK Pakt, consisting of flutist Peeter Malkov, drummer Toomas Rull and Margus Kappel on keyboards. The exciting period on the Estonian music scene was remembered by exhibition curator Heino Maripuu alongside music journalist Olavi Pihlamägi and music event organizer Ari Dubin.

The deep stagnation of the 1970s proved itself to be a particularly rough period for rock music in Estonia. The prevailing deficit made it difficult for musicians to find sound equipment or proper instruments. Quite often, musicians themselves would end up building guitars and drum kits.

The exhibition seeks to take its visitors back to Soviet Estonia, where the daily norm was living by a Communist principle and its many orders and prohibitions, which rock artists would constantly lash out against. With the heightened attention of the state security agencies upon them, bands would often find their performances prohibited or be forced into changing their names. Leading in turn to secretive concerts organized in protest, rock music in the Soviet era in Estonia was largely defined as a "forbidden game".

The exhibition is based on a film of the same name, directed by Heino Maripuu. Shooting on 8mm film, Maripuu thoroughly documented the rock scene in the 1970s, including performances by Estonian bands such as Ruja, Polyphon and Propeller, eventually screening the footage at disco-cinema nights organized by himself. "A lot of my films are the only remaining 'photographic evidence' of the bands in those days," Maripuu commented on his passion.

The exhibition as well as screenings of the film at the Museum of Occupations will run through the end of August.

A. Kaer

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