Prison Cell Door Spyhole. KGB Prison, Tallinn, Estonia, 2017
Digital C-print, dibond The artist´s comment on the artwork: “”What My Estonia is? Coming from a country (Ukraine) that was part of the Soviet Union and having lived and studied in another former Soviet republic (Lithuania) for the last six years – both of them were caught between Communism and Fascism at times in their history, I am acutely aware of the topic of oppressive regimes, such as Gestapo and NKVD (later KGB). Estonia went through the same historical periods of Nazi Germany and Soviet occupations and shares these aspects with Lithuania and Ukraine. In this work I am placing together abstract-like photographs of prison cell door spyholes (captured in KGB political prisons in all of these three countries, the same places were used by Gestapo during WWII); photographed pieces of discarded photo paper which was found in the former KGB “Patarei” prison photography darkroom in Tallinn, Estonia and was processed by natural light; with inserts from documentational publications depicting anonymous memories of people who went through KGB prison in Latvia. From the actual picture it is hard to differentiate where exactly was taken a particular photograph of a spyhole. The photo paper could be used to capture portraits of political prisoners of any nationality enclosed into the Soviet system and any of these stories could be written by person who was put to jail with no difference from which country he was and where the actual scene took place. Building our future looking through the past it is crucial to re-think events of our history to present them for the next generations in a more appropriate and compelling way. Sharing the same tragedy of the past I believe, that we can develop our future taking into account and spreading the knowledge between countries.” Walking Yard Door Spyhole. KGB Prison, Vilnius, Lithuania Digital C-Print, Dibond, 60×73 Walking Yard Door Spyhole. KGB Prison, Vilnius, Lithuania Digital C-Print, Dibond, 60×73 Prison Cell Door Spyhole. KGB Prison, Lviv, Ukraine Digital C-Print, Dibond, 60×73 Prison Cell Door Spyhole. KGB Prison, Lviv, Ukraine Digital C-Print, Dibond, 60×73 Prison Cell Door Spyhole. KGB Prison, Tallinn, Estonia Digital C-Print, Dibond, 60×73 Discarded Photo Paper Found in the Former KGB “Patarei” Prison Photography Darkroom, Tallinn, Estonia Digital print, wooden frame, 24×18 “…Each person was stripped naked; rings, watches, belts were taken – everything. Fingers were shoved up your behind to see if you weren’t hiding a ring or something else. They felt up everywhere. Women had both places checked, looking for things. They look everything. So it was…” Discarded Photo Paper Found in the Former KGB “Patarei” Prison Photography Darkroom, Tallinn, Estonia Digital print, wooden frame, 24×18 “The cell was as wide as my arm span and we slept next to each other – head to foot. We were six in a cell meant for one. You had to sleep on your back, the light was in your eyes. You were not allowed to cover your eyes. If you turned on your side, they would wake you. The guard must see your eyes. I thought I could survive this night, but not another. Not so. One day passed, then the second, third…” Discarded Photo Paper Found in the Former KGB “Patarei” Prison Photography Darkroom, Tallinn, Estonia Digital print, wooden frame, 24×18 “I was brought into a room called “boksi.” Like a closet, one next to the other. The room had a spyhole and was about as wide as the chair, just enough to sit and stand. Above was a metal screen and bars and a lamp was lit, so that the guards could see what you were doing. And a motor was constantly running, kind of like the radio interference machines there once were.”
The artwork is participating in MyEstonia? competition
'My Estonia?' calls for reflections on Estonia through the eyes of foreigners. For some participants, Estonia might be a chapter of their lives, for others it may evoke more arbitrary associations or Malevich “Black Square” type of interpretations - all in all, the competition looks for a wide array of playful approaches.
A selection of works from the competition participated in ArtVilnius ´18 on 7-9 June 2018.
Online voting to identify the winner of the Public Choice Award took place at NOAR.eu art platform from 28 June until 12 July. See all participating artworks and the results of the competition HERE!
NB! As the purpose of the competition is not commercial, the participating artworks are not sold through NOAR. Nevertheless, prices are indicated as in case you would purchase any of the artworks, we are happy to put you in touch with the artist to agree on terms of purchase, delivery, etc.