NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

This year, the traditional Art Week, revived by the Nordic Baltic Art Centre NOBA, will move from Tallinn to Pärnu. From 17-25 July 2021, a spectacular open-air festival entitled ‘Thread of Life – The Absurdity of Time’ will be held in the summer capital. It will start with an official design competition for artists, and culminate in Great Art Day on Independence Square.

Pärnu Mayor Romek Kosenkranius says that Pärnu is one of the focal points of Estonian art, where art experiences are both offered and expected. It is also the country’s summer capital: a place that draws people to it in the warmer months. “Our beautiful beach always brings in the visitors, but locals and tourists alike look for events to attend as well,” he says. “In that regard, Pärnu Art Week will definitely bring us and our visitors something new. Throughout the week, urban space will be showcased, allowing people to move around and discover the city in a new way and meet interesting new people and old acquaintances. Summer Pärnu is a meeting place full of experiences.”

The theme of Art Week is a reference to the exhibition ‘Life Thread’ by well-known Estonian surrealist Ilmar Malin, curated by his son Jaan, who is also the curator of the performing arts for Pärnu Art Week. “The thread of life is, on the one hand, a sign of the connection between different times and, on the other, a call to save a life,” Malin explains.

Jaan Malin. Photo: Raido Krutto

Andra Orn, another curator of the event, discusses the notion of absurdity. “Looking at our current situation in the world and the overall political culture, it could be said that’s struck us on a much more global scale than any war has ever been able to,” she says.

We’ve reached a dead end in our social organisation. Would accepting life as an absurdity offered by existential philosophers offer us the freedom through which each individual can create his or her personal meaning in and around the world?

During Art Week, the absurdity of life will be put to the test, because only art is bigger than life. Inventive ideas and witty projects related to the theme in a range of media –from visual arts and digital media to theatre and dance – are awaited to form part of the internationally open competition. Sculptures and installations are expected in the city centre, performances and happenings in the beach area, window and space solutions for indoor expositions will be created, a film and audience programme will take place and local artists and gallery owners will open up their studios and workshops as part of a cycling tour. The deadline for submitting designs is 10 March 2021. The application form is available online at

Pärnu Art Week is supported by Pärny City Council and Cultural Endowment of Estonia.