Projects and Vision 2016/2017

Curators’ Statement for the 2016/17 season: “In | Out”

The call

In December 2015 the new performing arts center, Vaba Lava/ Open Space, released a call for artistic project proposals among Estonian artists which redefine, question or challenge the notion of integration and adaptation. We received 35 project proposals from the Estonian artists. The proposals give intriguing answers to the questions proposed in our open call. How much can we accept the unfamiliar in our life? How much are we willing to share? What constitutes a cultural identity? Is a strong local cultural identity the ground for tolerance or for repression? How much can we imagine changing ourselves to accommodate the integration of the other? Where are the borders between identity and diversity, tolerance and ignorance, equality and indifference? What does integration mean in general?

Thematic approach

The selected productions include spoken and dance theatre, visual and technological theatre, poetry and music theatre, documentary and performance, disco and boxing. The performances are connected with the keywords: identity and technology, philosophy, ancient stories and oral history, fears, prejudices, reconciling opposing values, identity crisis, digital culture, investigating the everyday life, image of man, black humour.
Our programme includes well-known masters as well as professionals from other fields than theatre. Our second season at Vaba Lava shows again intriguingly multifaceted programme.
The programme entitled “In | Out” presents questions about these two poles. Who is in and who is out? From where is one out of and where are we in? Is our programme in fashion, that means – resonates with the questions in the society? Or is the world changing so quickly that the artists have to adapt themselves stepping one step in or out.

Selected projects:

Jürgen Rooste – “gender M” (in the group with Kaur Riismaa, Ivar Sild, Sveta Grigorjeva, Siim Aimla, Meelis Tasur ja Marko Martinson)
Oleg Soulimenko – “I’d rather dance with you”
Helen Rekkor – “Syrian Folktales”
Simon Mayer’s workshops in Tallinn and Narva with guest performances – “Sons of Sissy”
Sveta Grigorjeva and Siim Tõniste – Firebugs”
Audiokinetica – “IDEM” (concept and composer Aleksandr Žedeljov, director Artjom Garejev)
Urmas Vadi – “The Return of Furby”
Chris Kondek and Christiane Kühl- “Distinguishing Marks”

These eight projects meet our open call on different levels and provide a wide range of artistic reflection. The themes cover issues of digital identity and the integration of the other. Furthermore, they present sociological and anthropological views on identity crisis’, they are trying to find common moral values above the borders of states and nations. They want to investigate the history and the possibilities of Estonians and Russians living together and looking into the future of Estonia. Also the philosophical side: is integration always a positive notion or is it just a friendly excuse for intolerance?
The artistic approaches are as wide ranging as the themes. Different artistic disciplines are combined by Chris Kondek, Audiokinetica, Helen Rekkor and Jürgen Rooste. Almost all the projects are devising the performance themselves and many of them are using research methods (Helen Rekkor’s, Audiokinetica’s and Oleg Soulimenko’s projects rely on interviews)

Profile of artists

All the selected artists show great competence and experience as performance makers. Motivated by the great output of the last season, with the selection of the Estonian artists our aim is once again to encourage formation of new creative collaborations rather than presenting existing artistic groups. We were also intrigued by the idea that the stage is used as a medium by professionals of other fields. Different to the last season, the selected international artists are invited to work and to create new productions at Vaba Lava. Two out of three international projects will be entirely produced and premiered in Tallinn. These artists introduce unconventional theatre propositions and involve local people or local artists into the production process. It was important that the international projects have the potential to build close links with the Estonian identity and researching Estonian people.
Whereas in the first season, the selection was more about introducing a variety of artistic approaches, the next season at Vaba Lava aims to be more politically and socially challenging for both the artists and the public. Yet, it aims to foster artistic progress by asking questions about integration and adaptation and more generally about our identity. We hope for controversial debates which will effect the public life in Estonia beyond the theatre.


The curators Madli Pesti & Thomas Frank, May 2016