K. Ritval on “Storytelling as a Survival Kit”

At the exhibition opening.

Christmas is a time of storytelling and there is a broad variety of different stories at the Vent Space gallery where 11 foreign students from EKA are telling stories through different mediums. The exhibition is an outcome of a course in EKA, led by visual artist Maria Kapajeva.

At the exhibition, all participants introduce their own projects and approaches. In the sense that there is no comprehensive curatorial work. Even though the pieces are melting together aesthetically equally, there’s nothing that catches the attention      nor anything that falls too much into the background. Altogether these pieces don’t speak a common story. Also the meaning of the headline “Storytelling as a Survival Kit” doesn’t make itself clear, as in the essence of survival. When visiting the exhibition, there’s a need to actually read every story behind the project to understand the meaning. Yet, most inspiring aspect is how artists have found different ways to tell stories. Here I would love to bring out just some of them, to give a hint of the variety.


Icelander Birna Sísí Jóhannsdóttir artwork bears a name “sama sama, aga erinev/ sama sama, en öðruvísi/ same same, but different”. The headline brings out the similarity in languages, how the word “same” is quite the same in all three. Work by itself is a coptic bookbinded photobook.  The concept is simple: with her analog Canon prima BF-80 she has captured pictures in Estonia and in her homeland. In the comparison one can see the similarity of both worlds.  Photos themselves are emotionally filled documentary photos of everyday life.

Kirjeldus puudub.
Photos by Birna Sísí Jóhannsdóttir

Taking and sharing photos is probably the most common way to tell stories. When a grandma starts to tell a story she takes out pictures of the family, to add faces behind the names she is speaking of. This is the old, more classic way of using pictures. Nowadays we tend to describe everything we have done through photos. In these moments I wish a person would slip the phone back into a pocket and describe the experience in words, simply because by telling it verbally, there is a deeper connection between the one’s having the conversation.

The search for human contact and authentic experience was also part of Janosh Heydorn project. He created a relational art work in Keskturg (Central Market) where he traded cake and coffee against the stories of shoppers and workers in Keskturg. Exhibition visitors in Vent Space can also leave their memories related to the market, which was established in 1949. Background and reason is simply the fact, that Keskturg is going to be demolished and replaced by the new, shinier, safer and warmer building. As a consequence of replacing the old with a new, many people who are working and visiting Keskturg now, will not be there  when the new market is ready. So with a place, people go and with the people, the stories go.

Kujutis võib sisaldada: vabas õhus
Janosh working place at Keskturg

Last but not least, I would like to bring out the video work     made by Jonas Morgenthaler. The work is titled “Rebase päev” (The Day of a Fox). In this project Jonas is not in the shoes of a director, but of an exhibition maker;  someone who provides tools and skills to make art happen. He was a background power, who created an opportunity for art to happen. Jonas posted  a question on     Facebook in order to find kids from age 7-12 who would be interested in  film making. So the whole idea and achievement was made by a 9-year old girl. She embodied herself to a fox and watched the world through the eyes of an animal.

Kujutis võib sisaldada: üks või mitu inimest, vabas õhus ja loodus
Jonas and the director of “Rebase Päev”


In conclusion, there is a feeling of freedom, energy and enthusiasm at the exhibition. Inspiring willingness to relate with the world outside of the art field. 11 stories told in 11 different ways. Good reminder that we all have stories to tell, the question is how to tell it in a way, so the meaning of the story would reach the ears of a listener.

The exhibition is taking place 18 –22. XII 2020. Participants are

Áron Tihanyi, Birna Sísí Jóhannsdóttir, Camilla Kulmala, Gregor Pankert, Janosh Heydorn, Jonas Morgenthaler, Julia Tyszka, Kamilé Vasiliauskaitė, Keawalee Warutkomain, Robin Isenmann, Stuti Bansal.

Jaga sõpradega:

Postitas Kerly Ritval
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