Red Herring engages painting as a stage for human interaction. Merike Estna’s practice incorporates what she terms “performative paintings,” with allusions to the digital and the nostalgic, and a romantic reverence for parts of human existence that are mutating, melting, or slipping away. For Red Herring, she serves artist-crafted cocktails, inviting the audience to drink and converse atop her paintings. Inspired by Aleksandr Pushkin’s A Feast in the Time of Plague, Estna plays with our ideas of Romantic forms of representation and social space.
Maria Metsalu uses her body and voice to activate a programmed, sound-responsive installation in Mademoiselle X. The performance is inspired by a psychosis diagnosed in 1880 by French neurologist Jules Cotard, whose patient believed she was organless, dead, and, paradoxically, immortal. Metsalu mobilizes this notion of the body as a complex yet uncomplicated system—a realm where everything could be possible. The performance combines light, music, scenography, movement, and text lifted from video games and sci-fi movies to question the boundaries between reality and virtuality, considering our increasingly desensitized experiences of the surrounding world.
As part of the exhibition Soft Scrub, Hard Body, Liquid Presence, the performances and installations observe a shift taking place in the realm of our aesthetic and emotional sensibilities. Looking particularly to the female perspective, the exhibition attempts to address this uncanny post-accelerationist body in its new surroundings, questioning our state of turmoil, loneliness, and uncertainty surrounding the future.
Merike Estna, born in 1980, is an Estonian artist whose work inscribes the vocabularies of painting onto scenery and stage design, inviting visitors to activate her artworks with artist-made drinks, snacks, and napkins. Her recent work questions the gendered separations of painting, craft discourses, and digital communication. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts with a Bachelor’s degree in Painting, and from Goldsmiths College, University of London with a Master’s degree in Fine Art Practice. Her work is featured in current and upcoming exhibitions at London Kunstraum; SIC Gallery in Helsinki, Finland; Karen Huber Gallery in Mexico City; and Kim? Riga. www.genialmythcraft.com
Maria Metsalu, born in 1990, is an Estonian choreographer and performer. Her works express an ongoing interest in self-mythologization and autopoiesis via new, corporate technologies in an attempt to understand their unique terms of social exchange and transformation. Metsalu graduated from SNDO (School for New Dance Development) in 2016, and is one of the founding members of international performance group Young Boy Dancing Group. Her work has been shown in Manifesta 11, Kunsthalle Vienna, Tallinn Art Hall, and the 2016 NU Performance Festival, Corporate Occult_let’s talk about the body baby in Tallinn, Estonia. www.maria.metsalu.com
Maria Arusoo, born in 1983, is an Estonian curator and director of the Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia. Since 2013 she has been the Commissioner for the Estonian Pavilion at Venice Biennial, executing large-scale commissions by Dénes Farkas and Adam Budak (2013), Jaanus Samma and Eugenio Viola (2015) and Katja Novitskova and Kati Ilves (2017). Recent independent curatorial projects include: CORPORATE OCCULT, let’s talk about the body baby, NU Performance (2016), which presented works by international artists that dealt with contemporary issues surrounding gender and the body; Art in the Era of Digital Capitalism (2016), a conference considering the tendencies of acceleration and post-2011 institutional alternatives, which included Franco Bifo Beradi as its keynote speaker; and numerous others.