The duo exhibition is Tarvo Hanno Varres’s and Kirke Kangro’s mid-career show, devoid of direct retrospection. Instead it casts a glance into the issues that the artists currently take an interest in. The exhibition originates from two distinctive, if not diametrically opposed artistic positions, tied together by empathy towards each other’s creative methods.
The whole creative output of Tarvo Hanno Varres (b. 1970, lives and works in Tallinn) is characterized by sensitivity to minor variables. Key to his work is the ability to psychologise the scantest visual material and create tensions leading to ambivalent meditative reminiscences. The central and undoubtedly most forceful work on display is called Unavailable Memory (The Corners of Brussels) (2014 – …). A series of large colour photos, which like an earlier work focusing on the urban landscapes of Tallinn, depicts the street corners of Brussels. “The breaking points” of a desolate nighttime city are shown in dim light. This somehow abstracted perspective on architecture raises questions that concern the material history of the city, its trilingual identity, everyday street level practices manifested in graffiti and its official status as the capital of the European Union. The work lending its title to the exhibition, The Shadow of a Flame (2015), is an installation which through koan-like paradox proposes questions at micro-levels of materiality. The sound- and video-installation Recording Floor (2015) deals with memories of the material, the duration of moments and the problems of the private “vertical” axis of time. The video Laughter (2010) presents the deceptive multitude of meanings behind a physiognomic state. This phenomenological survey concerning the memory of materials and the related emotions unites the body of work into an unravelling unity.
The earlier body of work by Kirke Kangro (b. 1975, lives and works in Tallinn) can be characterized by strong metaphors, often focusing on feelings described by Freud as uncanny (unheimlich). The artist has been working in various media – installation, sculpture, video and performative pieces enacted for a camera – leading to works with clearly manifested imagery. In her last solo-show Almost (2013) at the Hobusepea Gallery she used minimalist means to unravel the characteristics of the spaces involved. Within the current show the artist creates a spatial situation entitled Exhibition. She experiments with performative concealment, stimulating the viewer’s horizon of expectations. The artist attending to her baby will be constantly present in the Monumental Gallery of Tartu Art House throughout the exhibition period. In this performance the mundane is mixed with the artistic in the gallery space where viewers are separated from the artist and her everyday activities. Nevertheless the knowledge (or assumption) of each other’s presence prevails. Here questions of privacy and scopophilia/compulsion to watch are at stake. She will work through the effects of alienation created by notions of the familiar. Her manifestation of the mother’s role and the functions of private life blend into the artistic vision.