Tallinn exhibition explores xenophobia, sexism and other societal issues

Exhibit from "Magical Hotspot”. Source: Artist's collection

A new exhibition in Tallinn aims to address societal issues in Estonia, using video and other installations.

The exhibition, entitled "Magical Hotspot", from jewellery artist Darja Popolitova, opened on Monday at the Vent Space gallery in central Tallinn and incorporates three video works and an installation creating a fictional world of a witch called "Seraphita".

"Seraphita" uses the medium of jewellery rather than frog skins or other more standard witches' fare, and aims to tackle societal issues ranging from sexism, homophobia and xenophobia to loneliness among the elderly, Popolitova said.

"In the process of preparing the exhibition, I fantasized about what problems I could solve with the help of magic, via my imaginary channel.

"I relied on my personal experience of being a millennial, Russian-speaking woman in Estonia. I supported my magical intentions with statistics that I had found in several official studies."

This data includes the 2017 Integration Monitoring of Estonian Society survey, Gender Equality Monitoring in Estonia 2016 and an ageing and retirement in Europe survey from 2013-2015.

Popolitova found just over 10 percent of residents of other nationalities in Estonia communicate regularly with the Estonian-speaking majority, and conversely, fewer than 10 percent of Estonian-speaking people communicate with the Russian-speaking population or those of other nationalities on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, around half of respondents to one survey who were aged 15-19 said they thought that cooking was the most important skill girls in Estonia should have.

Popolitova said the data shows 74 percent of elderly people in Estonia have no other close person to talk to about both their joys and their concerns.

Popolitova, who is studying for a doctorate at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA), uses the medium of video, including the vlog genre found on popular video sharing sites, to investigate how it affects the viewer in tactile interaction with jewellery, including even those who say they have witnessed paranormal events.

Darja Popolitova at work. Source: Artist's collection

The exhibition runs until July 11, every day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Vent Space gallery on Vabaduse väljak 6/8, Tallinn.

Free fortune telling is also on offer as part of the exhibition.

Exhibition collaborators are Ando Naulainen (video), Andres Nõlvak (sound) and Johanna Ruukholm (graphic design) and the exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Eesti Kultuurkapital).

Darja Popolitova was born in 1989 in Sillamäe and lives and works in Tallinn. She has exhibited at the Museum Arnhem in Holland (2020), the Art and Design Museum in New York City (2019) and the Kunstnerforbundet gallery in Oslo (2018).

Her works are on display at two galleries in the Netherlands, Marzee in Nijmegen and Door in Mariaheide, Beyond in Antwerp, Belgium, as well as at the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design in Tallinn.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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