From scientific discoveries to Tartu and Southern Estonian “Beetroot Washing machines” - Interviews with Tartu 2024 Projects

Photo: Kiur Kaasik

Toomemägi Revisited
Answers Katrin Tegova, Communications Manager for the Toomemägi Revisited 

Why do we need to “reopen” Toomemägi? Is it currently closed? 

Reopening can be interpreted as revisiting or rediscovering. Of course, everyone can visit Toomemägi right now, but during the European Capital of Culture year it will reveal itself in a new way. Toomemägi will be full of light, science, playfulness and cosy entertainment. Toome will have more to offer.

If Toomemägi were a person then how would they invite visitors? What kind of person would it be?

They would be an eternally youthful, curious, hospitable and humorous figure. Green environment would be very important to them, and their greatest wish would be that people would always feel comfortable around them. You will get a glimpse of ​​how Toomemägi receives its guests already on June 4 at the food, discussion and music day "Toome müks". 

What are the biggest scientific achievements made in Toomemäe? 

Thanks to Wilhelm Struve, who worked in the observatory, we know the curvature of the Earth and from Ernst Öpik's observations of how far away the fog of Andromeda is. During the celebrations of Juri Lotman's 100th birthday, it is worth recalling that he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Russian literature in the library located in the cathedral.

The scientific achievements of Toomemägi are the scientific achievements of the University of Tartu. Toomemägi became the heart of the university at the beginning of the 19th century, and in 220 years a great deal of important research has been made. Today's innovation in genetic engineering or computer science is also related to Toomemäe.

Surrealism 100
Answers Joanna Hoffmann, Tartu Art Museum director

Why celebrate the century of surrealism in Tartu? Is Tartu a city of surrealism? 

Tartu can be considered the centre of Estonian surrealism. Although no unified surrealist movements emerged here, several important artists are associated with Tartu: Eduart Wiiralt studied at the Pallas Art School, Ülo Sooster also received his art education in Tartu, and the art group Para ‘89, led by Ilmar Malin, was founded here.

What works are expected in Tartu?

It is still a surprise at the moment. For us too, because the exciting curation process is now beginning. But 20th century as well as modern surrealism from Estonia and abroad will be presented.

Photo: Mana Kaasik

Hidden Worlds Expanding
Answers Mari Vallikivi, Kondas Centre director 

The Kondas Center, as the leader of this project, has been working on the topic for a long time. What has been done so far? 

The Kondase Center has been researching, introducing and collecting phenomena that have been left out of professional art for more than a decade. Participation in the EV 100 art programme gave us the impetus to search for and deal more systematically with art made by people with special needs. The last few years have been years of collecting - we have bought special art for the museum's art collection, we have received valuable knowledge from our European colleagues about their practices. This summer we will test out a residency programme. 

Who can be highlighted in Estonian outsider art? 

It is difficult to highlight anyone, there are many very talented authors. The variability of outsider art is certainly surprising, which makes perfect sense, because for people who need special support, creation is the tool that helps them better understand and analyse the world around them, and in turn gives us the opportunity to understand their inner world. 

Washing Machine Made of Beetroot
Answers Paavo Kroon (Estonian Road Museum), Madle Uibo (Tartu City Museum), and Ilze Salnaja-Värv (Estonian Agricultural Museum). 

This is an exhibition created with the help of the Estonian people. What kind of support do you need? 

We are looking for stories, photos and objects that tell the story of the Soviet-era ingenuity and self-making. Different museums focus their collection campaigns on rural and urban life and transportation. 

Why were such things invented? 

During the Soviet era, many items were made due to a direct shortage and need that made people resourceful. Such enduring intelligence could also be inspiring in today's abundance. 

Have large Estonian museums cooperated in this way before?  

Joint exhibitions have been organised in one museum and traveling exhibitions have been held together. As a wide-ranging exhibition open simultaneously in several museums, the collaborative project itself is an unprecedented "washing machine made of beetroot". 

Photo: Evelin Lumi

The South Estonian Community Programme
Answers Kristiina Tammets, Tartu County Development Association 

The community programme is waiting for ideas soon. From whom and what ideas do you expect? 

We are waiting for ideas for events that best highlight the uniqueness, nature and cultural heritage of Southern Estonia, but at the same time introduce our guests to our innovative and inspiring ventures in both villages and companies. 

Will communities remain or disappear in a globalising world? 

We see that communities are particularly prominent in a globalising world, because that is what creates a sense of security when you have people around you who share similar values ​​and are able to work together and create new solutions. 

What makes Southern Estonia and our communities special? 

People - we have very cool people, friendly, cheerful, creative! There is a lot to discover and sometimes even mystery in Southern Estonia. Our cultural diversity is captivating and time goes by a little more calmly here. Traditional skills have been preserved. 

Tartu World University
Answers Triinu Laan, Tartu World University organiser 

How will the world's top science help the communities of Southern Estonia? 

We are ready for the positive synergies that will develop between researchers and communities! Researchers help communities ask the right questions about important topics, share their knowledge, and work with the community to find answers and solutions. This will be aided by value debates that can help overcome the differences that have been an obstacle so far. 

The activities of your project have started and the Southern Estonians can already get involved. How? 

We have announced an open call for World University ideas. Right now is the time to let us know what topics interest your community what kind of community academy event you would like to organise and experience in your area.

Photo: Kiur Kaasik

Kissing Tartu
Answers Kulno Kungla, Tartu Student Club director 

What does a joint kiss look like and how many participants do you expect there? 

People of all ages can take part in the kissing event on the Town Hall Square. This is the culmination of Kissing Tartu, it is a great concert performance with an unprecedented joint kissing. The best-known melodies of Eurovision through the ages will be heard during the concert production. The lively concert and joint kiss will reach people all over Europe as a TV broadcast. We expect 20,000 people to take part in the event with their loved ones, parents, children as well as grandchildren. 

What does Tartu want to say to Europe by kissing? 

We are talking about a kiss in its deep and diverse meaning. Because a kiss is not just a kiss. It is also a feeling, an action, a dialogue and much more. The fountain "Kissing Students" on the square of Tartu Town Hall is a beautiful and dignified, but at the same time romantic symbol of Tartu. It values ​​openness, humanity and respect. We also think that everyone in Tartu and Estonia should be treated well, regardless of nationality, race, age, gender or worldview. One of life's most important skills is to recognse, understand, and express love. Tartu is a city where it must be possible for everyone in 2024 and beyond. 

What role do students play in organising the event? 

Tartu is a city where kissing is a topic surrounded by education, art and music! Students like the whole city are welcome to take part in organising the event. Both as volunteers in the organising team and as kissers, as listeners of the concert on the day of the event.  

Wild Bits
Answers Timo Toots, Maajaam leader and co-curator of Wild Bits 

Which artists’ works are expected? 

Both Estonian and foreign artists, selected through an international competition, will participate in the exhibition "Wild Bits". The first competition has been successfully completed and 278 ideas were sent to us. As negotiations with the artists are still ongoing, we will have to delay the public announcement of their names. The other part of the participating artists is the great names of technological art, who have been invited to participate by curators Timo Toots, Mari-Liis Rebane, Taavi Suisalu, Kadri Lind and Marie Kliiman. 

You are also cooperating with this year's European Capital of Culture Kaunas. What can be experienced in Kaunas? 

We are cooperating with the Kaunas Landscape Art Festival Magenta, which will take place in September 2022. Within the framework of Magenta, our satellite exhibition will also shown in the cityscape of Kaunas.

Photo: Mana Kaasik

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