In October 2018 the passenger terminal of the Baltic railway station in Tallinn hosted the VI Artishok Biennial (VIAB) which used the format of a fashion exhibition. For curator Sten Ojavee (Centre for Contemporary Arts Estonia), the main aim of the exhibition was to offer a critical approach to the contemporary ideas about national identity and to offer different viewpoints on interpreting contemporary nationalism. To achieve this aim, the
participating artists used the possibilities offered by fashion.
This year’s biennial was organized by the contemporary art platform Artishok in co-operation with the Centre for Contemporary Arts Estonia.
The aim of the VI AB is to challenge closed perceptions of nationality and national fashion, to reflect the diversity of contemporary nationalism and to propose contemporary fashion that focuses on the national but not inside a closed and deterministic system. The backgrounds of the participating artists and writers are diverse. Artishok Biennial is an experimental exhibition format created in 2008 where every participating artist will make a new work and every writer will write an article about these works. The texts are exhibited alongside the works in
the gallery. AB is the only such art biennial in Estonia that brings artists and writers together to an equal platform and experiments with their mutual relationships.
The starting point for my proposed sets of garments is based on Benedict Anderson’s definition of nation as an imagined community.
The two sets of garments combine fragments from
contemporary as well as traditional national clothing.
In one case I have dyed a locally well known colourful
national costume (Kadrina naine) with dark ink.
In this way the costume becomes a plain silouette with hints on its origin, It turns attention to different meanings and details that one wouldn’t notice while looking at the original costume.
The other set of clothing is flirting with known forms from contemporary clothing: parka, t-shirt, sweatpants and sneakers.
Fabrics of parka are treated in various local soil.
On the deconstructed t-shirt familiar symbols can be
recognised, combined with Adidas sweatpants that have a distincitve meaning in Eastern-European history.
This set is completed with accessories that are familiar in local as well as global context.
Concept, design, development, embroidery and fabric treatment:
Curator: Sten Ojavee
Pictures: Virge Viertek, Dénes Farkas, Kärt Ojavee
Sewing: Kerli Praks