CCA, Estonia programme for 2019

Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia is in the process of creating a vision statement for the next five years, based on the needs of the Estonian art community and the possibilities CCA is able to offer that contribute to the development of the field as a whole.

CCA aims to be a meaningful partner in the dialogue with art professionals creating international opportunities and working towards conceptualising the field of contemporary art. CCA’s core values are supporting involvement, collectivity and the autonomy of art. These values function as the basis for future programming, and for all other areas of activity. 
“We live in a politically complex time where, on the one side, Europe and the rest of the world are threatened by right-wing populism, and on the other, culture is pressured to become increasingly entertainment-orientated. We see contemporary art as a strong means to support open-mindedness and democracy. In the Estonian art field, we have had the privilege to maintain independence and a critical mind. Estonian artists are well-received and becoming internationally successful, so we need more structural collaboration and involvement to empower artists,” says director Maria Arusoo regarding the underpinnings of CCA’s core values.
A focus on involvement and collectivity means that CCA is an open and creative platform, a partner in dialogue, and creator of opportunities for artists and other professionals in the field. CCA supports diversity within the art scene and makes an effort to continue previous collaborations or ensure they lead to new developments. CCA stresses collegiality and sees the strengthening of other art institutions in Estonia as beneficial to the field. In its projects CCA values collective thinking and working.
Supporting the autonomy of art means that the art institution is not dependent on the demands of the market, allowing CCA to cover areas that state institutions, the public sector or private galleries cannot, mainly for economic reasons. A lack of support in these areas hinders organic development in art and impedes the initiation of open and forward-pushing ways of thinking, characteristic of an open society. CCA does not consider terminology, such as competition, innovation and individual responsibility to be the primary means through which to communicate and value culture.

On 10 May, 2019 Kris Lemsalu’s exhibition “BIRTH V” will open in the new location of the Estonian Pavilion at the 58thVenice Biennale. The project involves an international team of curators, writers and artists, including Andrew Berardini, Irene Campolmi, Sarah Lucas and Tamara Luuk. The exhibition is open until 24 November and currently the details of bringing the exhibition to Estonia are being discussed. The Estonian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is the most extensive and significant international art project for Estonia, produced by CCA since 1999. Kris Lemsalu’s solo show will be at KW Berlin in the end of 2019.

For the first time, CCA is now officially accepting suggestions for its international guest programme from the public. CCA cannot guarantee all suggested experts will be visiting Estonia, however, we will take everyone’s ideas into consideration for the programming. In 2019 CCA will update its website and will be more active in providing consultations on a regular basis to all interested contemporary artists and collecting their portfolios. With open programming, CCA aims to involve the broader field of art in decision making and reduce inequality.

The closing ceremony for the Estonia 100 art program will be held on 23 February. CCA has been the Government Office’s partner in coordinating the Estonia 100 art program since 2015. This partnership is part of CCA’s wider goal to develop contemporary art outside of Tallinn as well. As a continuation of the program CCA intends to carry on collaborating with participating artists and organisations, for example, short interviews will be published in CCA’s newsletter.

CCA will focus on updating and opening its historically valuable art archive more than ever. The database available on CCA’s webpage will be supplemented and restructured. All Estonian artists are welcome to send in their portfolios for the CCA archive. CCA will continue publishing the contemporary art newsletter, with the aim of adding to the discourse on contemporary art by commissioning articles and translations and offering a platform for artists. From the end of February to April, video art screenings will take place in Artis Cinema, bringing together works from Estonia and elsewhere, curated by Vanina Saracino, Monika Lipšicand Sepake Angiama. The second half of the year will see the publication of the collection “The Zeros”, edited by Rael Artel. The lecture series “International Inspiration” organised in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Arts also continues.

In 2019 CCA will adopt a new approach to its employees’ curatorial work and switch to a model of co-curating. On 1 November an exhibition curated by CCA’s team will open at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM). At the moment Kadi Estland’s and Netti Nüganen’s exhibition “vomiting and crying vomiting and crying: you are my sister you are my sister”, curated by CCA’s curator Marika Agu is open at Tartu Art Museum. In summer CCA will work together with the Art Museum of Estonia on their centennial programme. The aim of curated exhibitions is to introduce international collaborations and contribute to the Estonian contemporary art scene.

CCA will continue hosting international curators and writers. In recent years CCA’s focus has broadened to include Nordic and Baltic art scenes, in addition to those in the West. The NBC programme provides internships and research trips for curators to Estonia, Finland and Sweden. The goal for 2019 is to involve more Eastern European art scenes in CCA’s international programme. International collaborations secure visibility for Estonian art in the international art scene and help to maintain a dialogue within the region.

CCA aims to create more internships, job opportunities and establish stipends for art workers in Estonia. In 2019 artists Anna Shkodenko and Tõnis Saadoja received the opportunity to work in the WIELS Residency Programme. The next open call will be announced in summer 2019. An assistant selected via an international internship open call will join the production team of the Estonian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. For the fourth consecutive year CCA also enables around 10 students to work as invigilator-tour guides for two months at the Estonian Pavilion in Venice. CCA will commission articles on current developments in the art field for its newsletter, providing paid work for art writers.
Follow CCA’s programme at, on Facebook or Instagram @ccaestonia or subscribe to our newsletter.

Team of CCA in the beginning of 2019: Kadi Kesküla, Marika Agu, Maria Arusoo, Kaarin Kivirähk, Sten Ojavee. Photo by Dmitri Gerasimov.