NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

Creative Ninja: Sigrid Viir

Travel Companion: Maarin Mürk

Conductor of Alphabets: Koit Randmäe

Guru of Here and There: Laur Kaunissaare

Ambassador of Conscientious Soothing: Maarja Kangro

At the heart of Sigrid Viir’s solo exhibition are today’s blurred boundaries between work and vacation. The name of the exhibition comes from the Roland Barthes essay The Writer on Holiday, in which he looked at writers as the bourgeoisie might see them – as false workers, who by the same token can only be false holiday-makers as well, who can be spotted reading a book even when they’re lazing on the beach. In the knowledge-based economy, the borders between work and leisure time have become more complicated, creativity has become an integral part of more than just the cultural field, and it takes a concerted effort to disengage even for the moment from one’s professional or working life. So, no one dares put down that book anymore.

Contemporary work culture requires people to be on call at all times, and if they have any free time, they should be doing something useful with it, like bettering their education. In the West, working has a strong moral side, so not working sends a signal that the person must be seriously ill or that they are somehow deviant. And so, even though we might not notice it, our free time is spent on working, looking for work, getting ready to do work, thinking and worrying about work. The borders between work and leisure are also blurred by the fact that the interior design of offices has become increasingly comfortable and pleasant and that home offices have become widespread. These spatial changes create a cooler, chiller atmosphere, but is that freedom empowering for the worker or just an illusion?

Taking a vacation has become a challenge in its own right – for self-employed people, it’s hard to create space between different projects and often there’s no one to delegate work to. Or there’s a feeling creeping down the nape of the holiday-maker’s neck, that if they don’t keep their hand on the pulse, they might be left by the wayside – because taking a break is for the weak, right. Moreover, holidaying and leisure time has become a huge industry, which offers quick relief through consumption of goods and services. Whoever has the more stuff wins, and a few visits to tourism hotspots can’t hurt either!

False Vacationer is a voyage through the entirety of the EKKM, starting from the external facade of the building and leading through the three storeys inside, posing questions about attitudes, habits and insecurities common these days in the holiday and work culture. The viewer can choose whether they come to the exhibition in ‘work’ or ‘holiday’ mode and that choice determines what route they will take through the building, accompanied by an audio guide. But does a ‘pure’ vacation, true catharsis await the viewer anywhere along the way? And how contemporary would the fairy-tale about holidays sound like?

Gallery name: Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM)

Address: Põhja pst. 35, Tallinn

Opening hours: Tue-Sun 12:00 - 19:00

Open: 27.04.2019 - 16.06.2019