'Highway art' installation takes the mall to the forest

Mall.
Mall.

While shopping malls may be largely closed at the moment, one has been instead opened in a forest in the town of Äksi, Tartu County. The installation is in fact called a 'highway art' ('Maanteekunst'), and reflects the place of the forest in Estonian life.

Sweat lodges made out of fiber, photo wallpapers with a forest view, and many other things that anyone who feels they don't have enough forest in their life might need, can all be found in the "mall".

"My aim was to make people think," one of the authors of the installation, Leo Hartmann, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK). "If you read the ad, then you can realize for yourself just how much you buy from a 'plastic' store, whereas you could instead get things from the forest and live close to nature, rather than just talk about it."

"Highway art" is an alternative to street art, but for small towns and villages, the creators say. Many Äksi residents have also contributed by reading out commercial clips played as part of the installation.

The authors of the concept deliberately brought to it those things that don't fit in the forest - noise, light, plus everything that symbolizes consumption, to show how far we have moved away from the real forest.

"We went to the stores to observe things, and discovered that we only deal with raw materials from the forest in one place, namely the pharmacy. This means that we recourse to the forest when there's a problem," Tiina Tambaum, one of the authors of the installation, said. "We do not use the forest to be healthy, but to act as a palliative for our symptoms."

The product line of the "mall" is constantly expanding, while the installation is open until summer arrives and leaves burst forth, the creators say, obscuring the art on display.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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