On the occasion of Estonian Circus Festival 2015, the city of Tallinn was pleased to host the festival Lack of Art. It took place in Kanuti Gildi SAAL on Saturday, 11 April and Sunday, 12 April.
The event, organized by MTÜ Eksperimentaalse Liikumise Keskus, a non-profit center for performing arts development, wanted this to be an occasion to reflect on the relations between art and circus, because when it comes to the circus, people often refer to juggling rather than something connected to the language of performing arts. In the wake of interdisciplinarity and experimentation, Merit Ridaste and Hanna Parman collaborated together as curators of the festival. Nineteen performers and seven artists, all of them very young, collaborated under the same themes, developing great ideas and demonstrating their high level of artistic skills to the audiences.
During the opening, the audience was first introduced to the art exhibition, and then to the stage. The first part of the show presented the results of the studium research lead by Kaja Kann and Alissa Šnaider together with the youngsters of OMATsirkus: Marta Vunš, Polina Richter, Edgar Vunš, Liis Maria Kabel, Annabell Toomingas and Matthias Kann in collaboration with the DJ S.s. Fabrique and Renzo van Steenbergen . The first performances dealt with questions like “What are the methods that make art become art”, “Does art need a drawing, a painting, a frame or a title to be art?”. The artists basically showed sketches where the bodies, interacting with objects like a table, a chair or a glass, were supposed to define movements and space. Related with this theme, the young artist Anneliis Kits exhibited her idea with the installation Do You Believe Everything You Think?, where the observer was invited to participate in the art-project, first by watching video-art and then filling a questionnaire about perception, consciousness and illusion of time and space.
The second part presented more articulated performances by young Estonian and international artists. The main themes were the relationships between humans and society, what society expects from the individuals and what individuals show to or hide from the society. Kert Ridaste and Jakobe Geens presented their acrobatic show Point Of You, inspired by the book Rhinoceros from Eugene Ionesco. They analyzed the individuals’ struggle in mass psychosis, showing how often the attitudes of humans become those of animals and they begin to live like them. The artist Katarina Meister also focused in her art pieces #modeofbeing (mostly paintings and collages) on the influence of social media, analyzing how most of the time people follow and believe in something blindly, without recognizing or understanding what is going on around them.
The workings of the modern society do not let individuals be what they really want to be or what they dream of becoming. Instead, they seem to be stuck in a cage, as Grete Gross and Amandine Doat experienced, using elastic stripes of textile during their performances. Moving through the stripes, their bodies seemed to create traps from where they wanted to escape. But where to escape? Where can a man surrounded by confusion and interferences find a safe world? Lars Schmidt based his research on the word Womb, the organ in the lower body of a woman, the only place where you can be as real as you are. He performed a song, standing against three different alienating devices (a computer, a television and a phone).
Even objects like empty bottles or postcards pinned randomly on the wall can be read as metaphors of inner worlds, something that is not seen. The installations Putsis (jette, liina, mari) and Insight exhibited by the artists Liina Pääsuke and Kenn-Erik Kannike, wanted to be a portrait of something that is kept hidden from everyone else. Can the inner part of human being be considered something unique then? What makes a human still a human? The performer Ireen Peegel dealt with these questions by creating her piece Kon t akt&Kon t rast Soolo. She acted different characters showing how the common line consists of human feelings such as love, pain, anger, warmth, despite any kind of borders, structures or contexts.
A word, a glimpse or a gesture – we have many ways to express our feelings and communicate them to others. We always live little stories that shape us, and we cry or we laugh. We would like to plan everything, but there’s always something we can’t control. Karita Tikka and Lizeth Wolk performed together in Oonõ, showing how humans deal with relationships and how the situations can become absurd, distant and unreal in a way, like two mannequins in bathrobes without heads, speaking on the phone. The artist Kaarel Kuusk tried to delineate those vibrations, approaches and distances, using audio-visual devices. His artwork Principle of Opposites basically showed a line, drawn like a kind of heart rate monitor, synchronized with a tracklist.
Sometimes, our inner world, our fantasy is the only way to escape from society or from a situation you feel you don’t belong in. What to do? How to escape? Dance with a big hula hoop? Find a “Noland”? Performers and artists figured out again a creative way to answer the questions. Otto Tammivaara imagined a hula hoop like a princess. He performed Intime, dancing with an imaginary princess and giving her a kind of love never felt before. Maria Netti Nüganen discovered a “world in between”, where rules and limits are forgotten and associations can be made with everything, like wear boxer gloves as fancy shoes or perform an Italian song from ‘80s in a lyrical way. Sohvi Viik imagined a forest inside a room, creating wooden surveillance and putting them on the ceiling like bird’s nests. Reginleif Trubetsky found an old book based on the interpretation of dreams and she exhibited it on a column like a fragile object between the real and unreal world. Unenägude Reaalsuse Seletaja (“Expounding Dreams Reality”) wanted to show how an object found by accident can end up as something symbolic.
As the last show, Tea Teearu and Kajetan Ur highlighted the line between dreams and reality, performing a daily routine as something absurd and senseless, like cleaning the floor, dancing to a pop song, crawling on the ground or creating a supernova by throwing lemons around. In this way, the theme of the absurd could be read as metaphor of Art, considered in all of its forms and languages, from dance to theatre, to performances to circus. Do we need rules to understand the reality? Do we need signs to explain it? And can we eventually even know what is what? Probably there will always be a lack of Art, as we are supposed to fill it with our dreams, feelings and imagination, detached from any kind of structures or prejudices.