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New art center to launch at a renovated industrial heritage site on the shores of Tallinn Bay
The more than 100-year-old heritage-protected building—a former submarine plant—will provide 450 m2 of top-floor exhibition space, presenting four main exhibitions each year. Photo: Martin Dremljuga / Stuudio Stuudio.

TALLINN.- Kai Art Center, a new cultural hub for local and international art, opens September 2019 in the historic and culturally-vibrant Noblessner area on Tallinn’s waterfront. Spearheaded by the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, the more than 100-year-old heritage-protected building—a former submarine plant—will provide 450 m2 of top-floor exhibition space, presenting four main exhibitions each year.

The inaugural exhibition
Let the field of your attention.... soften and spread out, an international group show curated by Hanna Laura Kaljo, will be open from September, 21 until December 1, 2019, and is part of the main program of the city's contemporary art biennial, Tallinn Photomonth.

Artists: Marie Klbk Iversen, Sandra Kosorotova, Pia Lindman, Andrea Magnani, Elin Mr yen Vister, Carlos Monleon Gendall, Sam Smith, Nele Suisalu

Arriving into the body, do I feel restless or tired? What holds tension, pain? Then, noticing the quality of the bay, of tidal movement, of weather, as the sun sets into the Baltic Sea. Noticing my body’s native capacity to resonate with other bodies and with the living land. We gather intimately to be with what is difficult, to witness movement and be moved. Listen, what emerges from the yet unseen and unsaid? What are we recovering from and what are we called to recover?

Situated at the intersection of creativity and healing, the exhibition features artists whose practices span visual art, moving meditation, deep listening, contemporary dance, writing, textile, and traditional medicinal knowledge. The title references an exercise in the book A Widening Field: Journeys in Body and Imagination (2004), composed by dancer, Alexander teacher, and craniosacral therapist Miranda Tufnell and installation artist Chris Crickmay. Similar to the book, the exhibition considers the creative arts through an emphasis on receptivity to our bodies and our surroundings. An invitation to gather through different registers of visibility, from small-scale private moments to those more public. The undercurrent of its curatorial choreography is one of attentiveness to the ways in which the seasonal transition towards darkness and dormancy inherent to late autumn and early winter in Estonia may affect our bodies, inner lives, and how we come together.

Hanna Laura Kaljo says, "the curatorial process of imagining the first exhibition at Kai and this historically layered, formerly closed-off coastal part of Tallinn has been guided by methods of listening and intuitive perceiving. I have remained vulnerable towards a story that cannot be accessed directly. It has been challenging and rewarding to see how we might evoke an atmosphere of openness to depth and dormancy, suggested by the metaphor of the submarine and the season, in which the show and the Photomonth biennial is taking place. I've been met with immense support from both Kai and the biennial team, and feel grateful for the opportunity to curate an exhibition for my birth town, bridging, perhaps, an innate Estonian sensibility with an international perspective. I feel excited to share the practices of artists who have not been shown in Estonia before, whilst also collaborating with young, local practitioners. I see Kai and its co-working ethos as an invaluable addition to the local creative ecology, creating the conditions for international exchange and hopefully also fostering a vision of the role of contemporary art from this particular locality."

The residency
At the core of the center's programming is the Kai Residency. Launching in October 2019, it aims to support innovative practices, develop global networks, and engage the local art community in Tallinn. Inviting international visual artists, curators, writers, and other contemporary art professionals, it provides the opportunity for selected participants to live and work in Tallinn while being immersed in the city’s dynamic art scene. It will host up to 14 participants in its first year, with five places for residents from Nordic and Baltic countries.

Kari Conte has been appointed Kai Residency Curator for 2019-2020 and she will serve as a jury member for the residency along with Karin Lansoo (Kai Art Center), Ann Mirjam Vaikla (Narva Art Residency, Estonia) and Jenni Nurmenniemi (Fiskars Village Biennale, Finland).

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