The Contemporary Art Field in Estonia


Location: ARS Art Factory, Pärnu mnt 154, Tallinn, room no 111
Volume: 24 academic hours, 1 ECTS
Number of participants: max 22
Cost: FREE
Registration deadline: 22nd of May
In addition to the general required materials, candidates are expected to submit a letter of motivation explaining why they are applying (max A4).
Please note that this course is meant for higher education students only.
Registration closed

The Contemporary Art Field in Estonia short course is meant for international art history or curatorship students who are who are studying contemporary Estonian or Baltic art, are interested in the contemporary Estonian art world and in working with Estonian artists, curators or art historians, plan to enrol at the Estonian Academy of Arts and are looking for an overview of how the local art landscape operates. The workshop will be led by Academy of Arts teaching staff member, head of the Centre for General Theory Subjects and freelance art critic Maarin Ektermann.

The short course provides an overview of how contemporary art scene in Estonia functions – the most important organizations, the movers and shakers, the currently important and active artists from different disciplines, and the types of events being held. The causal factors behind the art scene are also explored, starting from the restoration of independence, Estonian art in the context of the regional and broader international art scene, and much more.

Topics to be discussed:
• Trends in contemporary art (social criticism, new painting, installation – architectural approach – public space, photography, graphic design, applied arts, etc.). Examples of artists and their work.
• The functioning of the art scene – who is active (what types of professions are feasible in Estonia), how are they funded (Ministry of Culture, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, creative industries, the law that requires a 1% art budget for public buildings, private capital, the art market, artists and work), general diagnostics – bottlenecks and success stories. The development of the art scene since the 1990s, illustrated by keywords.
• Central institutions and platforms (public and private capital-based). What is characteristic for, e.g. galleries, town galleries in county seats, creative industries centres, etc.? Other examples: artists’ residencies, culture factories, Tallinn Art Hall, Tartu Art Museum, Temnikova and Kasela Gallery, Centre of Contemporary Art Estonia, Estonian Artists’ Association.
• Formats and locations of various events. Concentration of art scene mainly in Tallinn and Tartu – what’s going on elsewhere?

Learning outcomes
• KNOWS how contemporary art scene in Estonia functions (main exhibition venues, support-structures, budgeting, organizations, artists, events).
• HAS EXPERIENCE and personal contact with Estonian contemporary art through studio visits, meetings with curators, visiting exhibitions,
• IS ABLE to discuss Estonian contemporary art, knows about recent problematics, current trends and influences that are affecting future developments.

Assessment: the course ends with pass-fail evaluation (participating actively in discussions, asking questions during meetings with artists, art workers, curators etc.).

ISCED field of education: Arts and humanities, interdisciplinary programs.

Maarin Ektermann is an art critic and a teaching staff member at the Academy of Arts. She is currently the Head of the Centre for General Theory Subjects at the EAA.

In addition to examining how various audiences might feel more at home in an art museum, she also writes art criticism as frequently as she can. She is one of the initiators and leaders of the Artishok (Artichoke) art blog project and headed the MÄRZ project space in Tallinn Old Town. In addition, she has been connected with the organizers of number of festivals, discussions, conferences, focusing on advancing art criticism, funding art and self-initiated practices. As part of her doctoral research, she has studied DIY art practices and points of contact with emancipatory learning in Berlin and New York.

Photo: Mark Raidpere


Monday, 6th of August at 10–18 o’clock
• trends in contemporary art, examples of artists and artworks, the functioning of the art world, active artists, how they receive funding, and the development of the art scene since the 1990s. Visits to art institutions and exhibitions, discussions

Tuesday, 7th of August at 10–18 o’clock
• central institutions and platforms characteristic of galleries and other exhibition venues, artists’ residencies, key galleries and players, formats of different events and locations, the art scene in Tallinn and Tartu, visits to art institutions and exhibitions, discussions

Wednesday, 8th of August – travel to Tartu
• visits to artists’ studios, artists’ talks and group discussions
• Evening: visitin EEA new campus in Tallinn

Please bring with you: devices you need for note-taking (sketchbooks, pads, computers etc.).

The workshop is taking place as part of the project entitled “Tallinn Summer Academy of Art, Design and Architecture – Presence & Possibilities”. The project has been made possible by funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
The workshop is organized by the EAA Open Academy in cooperation with ARS Art Factory.