What is important? – 3rd Ars Baltica Triennal of Photographic Art


The 3rd Ars Baltica Triennial of Photographic Art presents current artistic positions employing photography from the ten countries adjacent to the Baltic Sea. The structural content of the project begins by looking at what is important today for Baltic artists who use the photographic medium. Etymologically, “important” is that which is valuable enough to be “brought in”, in other words, that which the individual or a community searches out and selects for itself.

What is Important? is not a thematic exhibition, but the works chosen do relate a certain artistic attitude. While many artists were concerned with establishing photography as art in the 90s, today, art with photography is one of many artistic strategies. Artists avoid the single representative image or play with it, include the performative and the narrative in their work, and produce image kaleidoscopes or complexes. Photography is not singled out as a specific medium, but is used by the artist, as others use it. In other words, formal issues are less important than the artist’s attempt to extract segments of reality, import and appropriate them, and communicate these to others.

Paradoxically enough, the artists in this exhibition combine an interest in the apparently unimportant and the desire to evoke important narratives. The most different forms of narrative in today’s Baltic photographic art are established around the following points of crystallisation. On the one hand, there are the stories that deal with the self, or where the public colliding with the private becomes an issue, and in which subjective experience and playful narratives replace the focus on the body typical of the 80s and 90s. On the other hand are the stories in which locations around and beyond the self are a central issue, and where the subjective importance of places supersedes the detached viewpoint on sites, characteristic of the early 90s. Concentrating on the local, the private, and the personal point of view, the artists attribute particular importance to individual territories, not yet absorbed globally or medially.

Knut Åsdam (N), Bigert & Bergström (S), Agnieszka Brzezanska (PL), Aristarkh Chernyshev (RU), Oskar Dawicki (PL), Miklos Gaál (FIN), Ilkka Halso (FIN), Isabell Heimerdinger (D), Elsebeth Jørgensen (DK), Anne Szefer Karlsen (N), Eve Kask (EE), Joachim Koester (DK), Tatyana Liberman (RU), Wiebke Loeper (D), Wolfgang Plöger (D), Arturas Raila (LT), Gatis Rozenfelds (LV), Johanna Rylander (S), Jari Silomäki (FIN), Florian Slotawa (D), Irma Stanaityte (LT)

Dorothee Bienert, Berlin; Lars Grambye, Copenhagen; Lolita Jablonskiene, Vilnius

A catalogue with 160 pages and approx. 150 illustrations is available. The publication in English is conceived as a discussion forum on art and photography in the Baltic region, and encloses text contributions by the artists as well as by Dorothee Bienert, Ekaterina Degot, Helena Demakova, Lukasz Gorczyca, Lars Grambye, Jonas Ekeberg, Anders Härm & Hanno Soans, Mika Hannula, Lolita Jablonskiene, Lars Bang Larsen, John Peter Nilsson, Jonas Valatkevicius and Jan Verwoert.

The exhibition has previously been showed in Stadtgalerie Kiel (D); Mecklenburgisches Kuenstlerhaus Schloss Plueschow (D); Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen (N); Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Former Building of the Riga City Council, Riga (LV), Tallinn Art Hall, Tallinn (EE), Pori Art Museum, Pori (FIN)

An exhibition project by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Culture of Schleswig-Holstein in collaboration with the Ars Baltica Berlin Office

Exhibition and catalogue have been funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation, Germany; as well as the Federal Foreign Office, Berlin; the Stiftung Kulturfonds, Berlin and the following institutions in the Ars Baltica partner countries: Arts Council of Finland, Helsinki; Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), Tallinn; Contemporary Art Information Center (CAIC), Vilnius; Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia (CCF), Riga; Danish Contemporary Art Foundation (DCA), Copenhagen; Finnish Fund for Art Exchange (FRAME), Helsinki; International Artists’ Studio Program in Sweden (IASPIS), Stockholm; Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA), Riga; Moderna Museet, International Programme, Stockholm; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Riga; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Estonia, Tallinn; Ministry of Culture, International Relations and European Integration Department, Warsaw; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Vilnius; National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA), Moscow; Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo; Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo