Photos by Roman-Sten Tõnissoo
Beyond the Blue Yonder
Denisa Štefanigová in collaboration with Johanna Ruukholm and Marleen Suvi, curated by Yilin Ma.
Opening: 16.02, 5 pm
In Štefanigová’s Beyond the Blue Yonder exhibition, humans are melting, becoming tides into other creatures to coexist together, in the same body. Culture historian Astrida Neimanis writes on ”Hydrofeminism; Or, On Becoming a Body of Water”, how the space between ourselves and our others are at once as distant as the primaeval sea, yet also closer than our skin.
Current in Štefanigová’s practice, is the fluidity between human and nonhuman subjects, where no living being is separated nor untouched from others. Like water connecting us all and ensuring we are always in a state of becoming as it travels in our bodies, in Beyond the Blue Yonder Štefanigová’s works are blending into new boundaries. Through works especially made for the exhibition, Beyond the Blue Yonder studies the possibilities of fluidity and fusing into each other, very much like boundless water crashing into itself in our bodies.
When looking at Štefanigová’s work through connections, you can see how they are formed and how unavoidably they reach out to every corner of our own private lives in good or in bad. Neimanis writes how “Despite the fact that we are all watery bodies, leaking into and sponging off of one another, we resist total dissolution, material annihilation. Or more aptly, we postpone it: ashes to ashes, water to water”; this is evident in Štefanigová’s work where water, air, or anything that bounds us together, works as a communicator between our bodies, connecting us and facilitates bodies into being. Doing so, it shows all the things from the past to the present. Our bodies are holding the past, and simultaneously are on the verge of the future. The space of constant becoming that is trying to find its own, but without the naivety of being born again.
There is also something queer about the way Štefanigová’s approach to challenge boundaries between human and nonhuman, and everything that sets them apart socially and environmentally. As bell hooks writes ”queer as not who you’re having sex with, that can be a dimension of it, but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to love”.
Štefanigová’s technique holds water in an important role — from working with acrylics that water controls from how the water dries to the canvas, Štefanigová’s one line technique awakes something watery in the paintings; a reflection, that’s on a constant move. Installing these 31 pieces of paintings next to each other, Štefanigová is creating a wave that flows through the space.
The exhibition consists of paintings and an installation by Denisa Štefanigová, as well as sculptures by Marleen Suvi. A limited amount of catalogues that examine the exhibition through a dialogue between the artists Denisa Štefanigová and the curator Yilin Ma is designed by Johanna Ruukholm.
Denisa Štefanigová (she/her) (b.1995) is a Czech artist who mainly works in painting. She recently graduated from the Master’s Program in Contemporary Art at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA). She also holds a bachelor’s degree from the Technical University, Faculty of Fine Arts (FaVU), during her studies she also attended the Faculty de Bellas Artes in Bilbao. In 2021, Štefanigová was one of the 15 finalists for the Young Painter Award for the Baltic countries. Her recent exhibitions include MO Museum, Vilnius, and Hobusepea, and Hoib Gallery, both in Tallinn. Her works are represented in the KogArt collection based in Hungary and in SYNLAB based in Tallinn. This year, she will have a solo exhibition in Tallinn, Prague, and then one group show with the Hungarian artist Asztrid Csatlós in Brno.
Marleen Suvi (b. 1998) (she/her)has graduated from the department of painting in the faculty of fine art at the Estonian Academy of Arts (2020) and is currently acquiring a MA degree in the contemporary art program at the Estonian Academy of Arts. Marleen Suvi is examining the interwovenness between the body and the human soul. At the moment she is working with ideas such as whether it is possible to meet yourself, how to let go of your selfishness and what it means to depict yourself in a sexual way. Most of her works are autoportraits. While writing haikus, the artist contemplates empty phrases, which arise from subconsciousness that sometimes seems to belong to someone else. She prefers to work with oil on canvas and glass. Among her recently held exhibitions are ‘‘A Visitor’’ (Hobusepea Gallery, 2022) and ‘‘So That the Body Does not Forget’’ (Vent Space Project Room, 2021).
Johanna Ruukholm (she/her) (b. 1996) is a graphic designer and artist. She is part of a design duo Jojo&me. Her graphic works vary from websites to illustrated visuals and she enjoys telling stories through characters in colourful and enigmatic worlds. Besides working with a computer and pencils, she creates ceramic sculptures and everyday objects under a brand called Nestworkers. She is also one of the curators of the club event series HoneyCombat, which takes place in Tallinn.
Yilin Ma (they/them) (b.1995) is a Helsinki based curator and writer, who works in intersections of literature and visual culture with a focus on East-Asian queer diaspora narratives and queer- feminist way of understanding the spaces in between lyrical and material. Currently they are attending The Praxis Master’s Programme in Exhibition Studies at The University of Arts in Helsinki.
The exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Estonian Academy of Arts
Opening drinks by Punch