Siim Preiman

Curator’s collage

In everyday life, it may no longer be necessary or even possible to see a distinction between artificial and natural spaces. More likely, there is an infinite number of environments around us, which we spend time moving between. Entering the City Gallery, we will have a unique opportunity to explore the two artists’ ‘palaces’ where each object has been carefully shaped and positioned by the creators. Rather than puzzling over the reasons, we could delve into their forms and the materials used.

For many centuries, life has offered artists much greater freedom than only making commissioned portraits or landscape paintings. Erki Kasemets and Camille Laurelli’s playful proposals challenge the experience conveyed by images and the inconsistency of the verisimilitude they entail, and eventually take a sceptical look at the materiality of art today. Relying on insight, surreptitiousness and consistent observation, their works range from speculation to deceptive truth.

The display features light, kinetics, interactivity, readymades and textiles. Into these carefully considered compositions the artists have woven multi-layered narratives through symbolic values. Although the works initially appeared to be dizzyingly complex tasks, they have ultimately produced conceptually and emotionally surprising results.

The two creators are united by their loyalty to materials and an intensity of creation that is most authentically expressed in their fanaticism for their chosen medium as a technology. They work with a wide range of subjects and materials using a variety of methods. Both, however, relate their work to their values and practices as individuals. They are brought together primarily by the intuition of the curator and, depending on the point of view, the exhibition is both a game and a competition. Nonetheless, in the gallery space the works begin to influence and mirror each other, building bridges of meaning, sometimes tangible, sometimes ethereal.

Erki Kasemets mainly uses recycled materials that he collects during his daily activities, such as walking. His sculptures are created through negotiation: on the one hand, the material itself provides guidance; on the other, it is feeling that arises when handling the material that is important. The latter can be based on a poetic reading or on the physical properties of the material. Kasemets works with objects in different ways, but even when he cuts them in pieces or assembles them incorrectly, it is easy to recognise their original form. I believe it is what he does with his material that might be significant here, not necessarily what it becomes.

Regardless of the medium chosen, we can always perceive critical attitude towards the format, a questioning attitude or a sincere desire for innovation in Camille Laurelli’s projects. His work is often confusing, misleading, based on failure, pirated and provoked misunderstandings. He is interested in the practice of collecting, sometimes turning his collection of objects or found images into a serial work. Collecting contemporary material culture is a task of its own, because it is often only in retrospect that it becomes clear whether an object is an important cultural marker or a curiosity.

It is hard to find the right word to describe the materials used in the exhibition. Ordinary “suspects” such as mush, litter or dirt always lead us to think of rubbish. However, these sculptures are not made of rubbish, but of everyday objects found on the edge of a table, behind a cupboard or in an attic. After all, it’s not just rubbish that surrounds us!

Art is a relatively ineffective means of conveying specific ideas. True, this is also where much or its charm lies. Getting things “the wrong way” is part of a process of decoding, whereby the interpretations produced enrich the discussion initiated by the artist. And, of course, there is also a peephole, so that every visitor can satisfy their unquenchable curiosity about what their neighbours are currently doing.