The keywords that link the research directions and grants related to the Estonian Academy of Arts are practice, technology, theory, society a culture. In addition to the high-ranking research projects in traditional humanities – in art history, visual culture and Soviet Studies – the Academy has set its priority to be artistic (practice-based) research. At the Academy artistic research can connote different means of knowledge production, depending on the specific field of study: artistic research in contemporary art, design research, design practice research in architecture and urban design, practice-based research in conservation and cultural heritage. Artistic research is experimental, cross-disciplinary and process-oriented. Its criteria are applicability, innovativeness, level to which the creative activity communicates with and/or engages the public. Among other things, artistic research deals with research into the relationships between art and contemporary society, including the possibilities of contemporary art to participate in societal processes or to support the processes using creation of specific knowledge.
Visualising the Nation. Institutional Critique of the Twentieth Century Art and Architecture in Estonia
The general objective of the project is to study the dynamics of national identity in 20th century visual culture and built environment in Estonia. How it has been legitimized and determined by artistic and spatial practices (shift in focus, emergence of the alternative narratives) and systems of knowledge that aim at creating of local representations of the past (i. e. the writing of history).What kind of interpretations of art history could we draw going beyond the nationalistic narrative but keeping local situation in mind and keeping distance to universalistic history of form. What kind of institutional practices formed national-European dialectics in the evolution of Estonian art and architecture? What kind of images and objects were favoured in the limits and possibilities of national discourse during different periods? What is the cultural self-portrait constructed according to canon in the 20th century art?
Orthodox People in Estonia and Orthodox Churches in Estonian Landscape
The main goal of the project is to conduct an inter-disciplinary study of the Orthodox people and Orthodox churches in Estonia since the 18th c. The study of the Orthodoxy in Estonia during the second part of the 20th c. and in the beginning of the 21st c. is based on ethnological (and sociological) fieldwork and data analysis. The period before the Soviet occupation will be studied using historical methods and archive sources. The fieldwork concentrates on the religion and identity, mutual relationships of Orthodox and other people and other denominations in Estonia. The attitudes toward Orthodox by Non-Orthodox are also to be taken into account. The goal of the fieldwork is to collect oral information and archival data of religious life of Orthodox in the Soviet Estonia and today. The research undertaken will also focus on the influence of the Orthodoxy on an individual. The main aim of the J. Plaat’s planned monograph is to present a historical study of the Orthodoxy and Orthodox churches in Estonia in the 18th-20th centuries and the more ethnological and sociological treatment of the topic in the beginning of the 21st century. The students of the Estonian Academy of Arts will also participate in fieldwork.
Another part of the project will focus on churches as buildings. We will try to map and investigate Orthodox churches (be they working churches or in ruins from Soviet times) from architectural, historical and geographical point of view. We want to document (using photo, video and mapping) all the Orthodox churches and chapels in Estonia, including those in Petserimaa across the border with Russia. One result of this work would be a scientifically commented photo album of Estonian Orthodox churches and tsässons, where we also use the photos from archives (author of texts J.Plaat, compiled by M.Raisma and J.Plaat, photos by professional photographers T.Noorits, A.Maasik, and L.Lepik, J.Plaat and others; maps by L.Lepik, Regio). Other planned publications include two monographs: R.Reinvelt, “My Narva and Yours. Own and Foreign in the Context of Social Change.” (doctoral thesis); J.Plaat, “Orthodox People and Orthodox Churches in Estonian Landscape in the 18- 20th C”; the collection of papers from two international conferences of the project in the series “Pro Ethnologia”; other articles by senior personnel and students involved in the project. Other goals of the project include two international conferences in Latvia and Estonia, exhibition in the Estonian National Museum „Orthodox Churches in Estonia in the 18- 21 Century“ (compilers and curators T.Noorits, A.Maasik, R.Reinvelt, M.Raisma, L.Lepik, J.Plaat), and anthropological film(s) about Estonian Orthodox people and Orthodox churches in the 21 c., which will be produced out of the audio-visual material filmed during fieldwork (authors J.Simm, J.Plaat). The creation of a webpage about Estonian Orthodox churches is also planned (M.Raisma, J.Plaat, Estonian Orthodox congregations, IT company), which is based on the photo material collected from archives and photos taken during fieldwork and scientific text material from participants in the project and other researchers of Estonian orthodoxy. In the framework of the field studies, one goal is to collect objects, photos, audio-visual and archive material for the Estonian National Museum and Estonian Academy of Arts.
Spatial Environment in Estonia as an Object of Art Historical Research
The aim of this research is to analyse the spatial environment in the context of transformed methods of art history after the cultural turn, to focus on new interpretative possibilities of architecture and the built environment as well as to introduce the discipline with new fields of research and archives that have so far been considered unimporant. The spatiality of the environment includes in this particular case the physical space and spatial practices but also representations of spaces and spatial discourses: buildings in the context of their program and economic flows, landscapes in the context of politics and identities, art tied to its institutions and site specificity. Widening the concepts of art and architectural history from the narrow specialist fields engaging in style history, aesthetics and attribution onto the built spatial environment we will try, among other things, to look at processses that produce art and architecture. The latter include political discourses, social values, flows of money and labor, which run into the final object together with the intention of an author and the ideas circling in the institution of architecture. As most of the researchers focus on problems of Estonian architecture and the built environment after the II World War then one of the cruxes in the study becomes the method and possibilities of research of the Soviet period, its dialogue with the growing studies on postsocialism in the West and its adequate translation on both sides. The output of the project would be: research articles in refereed publications, common publications of the researchers, the formation of international research network and a corresponding conference, intergation into postgraduate studies.