Photo: Tiina Sarapu

The Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Staircase Gallery

The artist featured in the exhibition series “Room” this year is Tiina Sarapu. The series was launched in 2018 with the aim of giving contemporary artists and designers the opportunity to engage with the museum’s collections – material objects that have shaped our routine environment in one way or another. In the course of the project, artists have the opportunity to explore the museum’s collection and the peculiarities of museum work, and to formalise their creative impulses as an exhibition in the museum’s gallery, installed in one of the rooms of a 19th-century residential building.

Tiina Sarapu: “I was really happy with the museum’s invitation. The proposed format and possibilities for approaching the subject extended my previous projects a great deal. I am interested in space, in the environment, I am interested in there being free space. Watching light move around the room brings me pleasure. I become enraptured by glass when I happen to observe the unexpected and yet perfectly consistent landscapes glass and light can create inside a space.

I saw a lot of links with my previous work in questions regarding the storage, packaging, shipment and selection of items for museum displays, so I initially tried to drop these invisible threads and just started researching. So, at first I wasn’t looking for anything. Maybe just myself. I wanted to know what I could find.

Exploring museum collections can be compared to surfing in your own subconscious. Combing through a huge amount of visual material, I began to observe my feelings and thoughts more closely, discovering the patterns they form. Again and again, I found myself pausing at works encompassing a nostalgic warmth, a kind of nearness and familiarity. I also found works that aroused anxiety or gloom, as well as indifference or boredom.

I was very interested in how the artefacts were catalogued and physically stored or packaged. But what is even more interesting and consequential is how the collection is formed. The excitement, complexity and responsibility of collecting became clearer to me more than ever before.”

The environment created by Tiina Sarapu in the museum gallery harbours a nearly perfect workroom with a view, but also a delicately designed airy space where her favourite artefacts from the museum collection are combined with selected objects from elsewhere, forming a lively dialogue with the artist’s original work. Half open grey glass vitrines and boxes filter some of the works, while the curves, engravings and grey veiled quality offer new perspectives and food for thought. This “room of secrets” is light and contains plenty of time and space, which Tiina Sarapu wants to offer with her work.