Do you make your art in order to be noticed, become famous and provoke people? Or because you simply can’t help doing it? Or even out of a sense of mission? Who are your precursors?
There are many reasons why I make art, and I would be lying if I were to claim that one reason is more important than the others. Of course I would like to be noticed, to become famous, and provocation is linked with the two. At the same time, I have to live out my thoughts since bottling them up would be catastrophic for me. There are things which make my heart bleed, things I feel I have to say to people and sometimes when saying these one has to provoke, irritate, shock, take risks, otherwise no one will pay attention to them. We are all too bound up with ourselves, too indifferent, to notice anything which is not thrust before us. Women artist have been invisible for too long and they also have presented their thoughts invisibly in order not to they irritate, not to get hurt. Women are by nature more modest, and so do not charge straight into the flames, at least that is how it is customary to see women. I am an idealist and think that artists have their mission, perhaps it is sometimes difficult to understand what that mission actually is. And I have many precursors, they are those who swim against the prevailing current and yet do not drown.
You have called yourself a revolting woman and there perhaps exist those who would agree. Does your adopted role sometimes embarrass, sadden and weary you? If it is a protest, then against what or whom?
I have not called myself a revolting woman, at least not before this epithet was given to me. In order to bring some clarity to the issue, I was called “that revolting woman” by Egyptologist Sergei Stadnikov, I was only quoting him. Tiina Strauss mentioned this in my interview last spring in the weekly Eesti Ekspress. From that time forth I have had no difficulties in confirming how “revolting” I am. Sometimes it amuses me how easily people believe what they hear and if you are different or become famous then they need to build up a myth or legend around you. My myth is being a “revolting woman”, a position that was not filled for a long time. For part of my life, I tried to be quite someone else, act in accordance to what society regards as normal, but nothing came of it. My inner self revolted against the prison, thirsting for freedom. To a certain extent, I have liberated myself since I no longer am afraid to say what I think and feel. Occasionally I am filled with an urge to improve the world. I protest against the fact that people shut their eyes in awkward situations, refusing to see or think. Sometimes I feel that I am more of a femme révoltée who is worried about the state of affairs than a revolting woman.
Do you believe that you can shake up domesticated women, or people in general, for that matter, out of their complacency with your art? Is it necessary?
Without belief, it is hard to manage, this truth is employed by all religions. I cannot do things I don’t believe in. During my most recent exhibition in the Vaal gallery, I realised that it is possible to shake people up, not only women, but also men, for they also have to become more aware. I think that we all need a jolt from time to time. I have frequently taken a jolt myself, and that is a good thing. Coming to London has been a shocking experience and unfortunately some of my ideals have been shuttered. But thanks to that fact I have begun to see things which I had not noticed before. Obviously I would , now and again, like to uncouple and forget the world around me, simply enter an impenetrable embryo and stay there, protected from everything outside.
Could a revolting man be inspiring to you?
Of course, if I fall in love with such a revolting man, I would be inspired by him, but I would define those men that inspire me as interesting, intriguing, complex, intelligent and close to me.
What do you see as your place in Estonian art? Are you needed here?
If you rate the Estonian art scene on a colour scale, then I would say that my art is brightly variegated, encapsulating all the vibrant tones of brilliant autumn weather. Colour and sun are always necessary.
Is an Estonian context important for you or do you believe that you can break through elsewhere?
An Estonian context is very important for me, but this does not mean that I am afraid of failing to break through elsewhere, or of not believing myself to be able to. The only thing I do not know is whether this should necessarily happen, but there is something in my nature which does not allow me to be in one place for long, I always have to be on the move, on the way somewhere to do something. I quite clearly fear that staying in one place will make me stagnate like the pond in the hothouse in Tartu Botanical Gardens.
What gets on your nerves?
What gets on my nerves most is, when people remind me in certain situations in an unpleasant way that I am born as a woman and in Eastern Europe, when women and men are treated unequally in social terms and when women tend to seclude and differentiate themselves. Biologically, we are different, but sometimes women try too hard to think themselves to be different, men do so as a matter of course.
Are you afraid of silence?
No. I like to walk in silence along the shore. The only thing is that silence is hard to capture. If you mean silence in the sense that my works would not draw attention to themselves, would not create a stir, then I sometimes long for such silence, it would afford me the opportunity of experimenting more, of developing further.
Do you consider yourself a good painter, do you still paint and if so, what?
I imagine there are many better and worse painters than myself on this Earth. I have enjoyed, and still enjoy, painting, since I love colour. Colour is important for me as a medium for transferring a message. My last exhibition included eleven painted faces. These were not paintings in the ordinary sense of the term, since they were part and parcel of my installation. In the summer, I usually go and paint for a week at the Põltsamaa Artists Club. I come from the region and local amateur painters (what a foolish term, incidentally) have always kept their fingers crossed for me and I enjoy painting with them outside, in natural surroundings. I think it very important that I do not forget the people over there. Last summer we even did a performance together in the castle courtyard.
What can you imagine yourself doing ten years from now?
With my present pace of life, and with different activities every day, it is hard to guess what I will be doing in ten years’ time. Four years ago, I almost declared I would never make art using technological equipment. At present here in London I am learning how to become a digital artisan. I enjoy it, it gives me so many new opportunities to express myself, relate to people outside of the limits of repressive power structures, to find my own niche. I hope that in twenty years’ time I will not be an embittered old woman, if it becomes evident that my “own” has not lead anywhere. But perhaps mankind will not exist ten years from now, perhaps life will be extinguished at the beginning of the new millennium, or the newcomers to this planet will kill everyone or all people will start with their own stupidities since there are so many already who believe in artificial intelligence and artificial bodies.
I am sure that in ten years’ time I will be able to drive a car, use a computer much better than at present and still be able to sing Estonian folk songs, perhaps in order to jolt people from the slumber.
Look as well:
- LOVE-LINE project by Mare Tralla http://www.wmin.ac.uk/~ghmlc/loveline/love.html