THE OTHERS — ANNIKA HAAS, BIRIGIT PÜVE, MAXIM MJÖDOV AT PHOTOVILLE FESTIVAL IN NEW YORK
13.09.2018 — 23.09.2018
Estonia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, its total area being 45 339 km2, about the size of New Hampshire and Massachusetts combined and it is home to about 1,3 million people. We are few but we have several layers of minorities and communities whom the local Estonian-speaking majority refers as the Others. It is no surprise. We, humans, understand the world through opposites. Speaking of Us always implies the existence of the Other. But there is a peculiar phenomenon about the Other — as soon as we get closer, we are able to describe and understand it. The Other becomes familiar and we can include them them among Us.
Three Estonian photographers open doors that lead into three different communities of the Others in Estonia. Maxim Mjödov takes us to the peripheral landscapes of Lasnamäe — a suburban area in the eastern part of capital Tallinn, widely considered as the major residential area for the major Other — the Russian-speaking population who mostly arrived to Estonia from all over the Soviet Union during the USSR era from the late 1940s to late 1980s.
The work of Birgit Püve examines a small settlement of Vao in the eastern part of Estonia and it’s current inhabitants. This remote village has survived thanks to the immigration and at the same time, the immigrants have always been one of the most obvious examples of Otherness. Vao experienced the first wave of immigration when sovkhozes and kolkhozes were established in the 1950s-60s. People of different ethnicities, mostly Russian, came to Vao from all over the Soviet Union in search of a better life. These days the village is witnessing the second wave of immigration because the newly established centre for asylum seekers.
The third photographer of this joint exhibition, Annika Haas, sheds light upon the most mysterious minority of the Others in Estonia — the Romas or Gypsies, as they are called by locals who look at them suspiciously, even if they do not know much about the Romas, their customs and traditions. Annika’s images provide an unique opportunity to take an intimate look at Romas’ homes and daily life.
The project was supported by Eesti Kultuuriministeerium, Eesti Kultuurkapital, Telliskivi Creative City, Ikkun Creative, Printwise and Taevas Ogilvy.