Explore the Artist Interview in Arterritory

Contemporary Capitalist

Posted by Katrin Valgemäe on


Contemporary capitalist


The exhibition "Contemporary Capitalist" moves back in time to the 1980s, when Estonia belonged to the USSR, and to the jungle of newly independent Estonia in early 1990s, to Lasnamäe where I grew up.

Paradoxically, my first contact with the "paradise" called "capitalism" came with watching the Finnish TV and with the first "foreign" things I received from Finland in the 1980s. I have a very clear memory of my first banana, tutti-frutti chewing gum, tic-tac candy, and the advertisements and series running on Finnish TV.

Inevitably, there was an unbreachable divide between myself and "paradise", which led me to despair as a child and made me feel almost as punished and outcast from the "paradise".

Memory is selective, subjective and changes in time. I can remember certain objects, people and events. I magnify some memories that at a time I didn’t notice at all. These magnified memory images are details that are torn from their context, like the commercial for Finnish washing powder Ariel that seems to be part of my identity. The Finnish mass media shaped our understanding of the "outside", but this understanding certainly was not adequate, it was more likely distorted. The effect of socialist propaganda is strong. Here I’m talking about my family, many others knew how to "digest" that information.

How I sensed the world, what shaped me and through which I largely operate now is what I use in my art. These torn details have become part of my identity and I use them to build a playful reality. This is the game to me. Like Lego from which I can build endless castles of.

To me, creating a nostalgic space is therapeutic. I enjoy recreating everything and mixing it with my life experiences that in turn add new layers and shades to my experiences. The result is a symbiosis of me, socialism, 1990s and modern life. The viewer experiences recognition, but they have not seen this "Lego castle" built like this before.