The show Dissolution – Raivo Puusemp in dialogue with, curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen will be open at the Art Hall Gallery from 15 April. The final chord in the practice of foreign-Estonian artist Raivo Puusemp – dissolving Rosendale village into the municipality surrounding it – might at first glance seem more like administrative reform than artistic achievement. Inspired by this gesture, artists Krõõt Juurak, Flo Kasearu, Kristina Norman, Mark Raidpere and Margit Säde talk about taking responsibility, of pragmatic idealism, of citizens’ initiative and of the passing of objects and beings from one state to another.
The opening will be on Thursday 13 April at 5pm and the exhibition will remain open until 14 May.
When artist Raivo Puusemp (1942, EE/US) was voted mayor of Rosendale, N.Y., in 1975, the village was plagued by an overbearing tax structure and problems with municipal utilities. Following his election and throughout his tenure, the residents of Rosendale were unaware of Puusemp’s practice as a conceptual artist, his early interest in phenomenology and his later experiments with group dynamics and socio-political processes. Puusemp’s approach to the post was however an artistic one.
“I lived two miles from Rosendale, and at some point bought a farm there. And that’s when I was approached for this political thing. I thought about that for a while because I had never been political; I had never voted even at that point. And suddenly the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was kind of a good opportunity to see what could be done,” recalls Puusemp on being elected mayor.
By March of 1976, Puusemp had persuaded the people of Rosendale, with a landslide 2-1 vote, that the dissolution of the village government would be the best possible solution to their problems. By October of that same year, Puusemp resigned as mayor, withdrew himself from the art context and moved with his family to Utah.
To recontexualize his work in present-day Estonia, five contemporary artists (Flo Kasearu, Krõõt Juurak, Kristina Norman, Mark Raidpere and Margit Säde) have been invited to respond to his practice in order to investigate the notion of withdrawal and political action.
The original exhibition Raivo Puusemp – Dissolution has previously been presented at Project Art Centre, Grazer Kunstverein and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (2012 – 2013) and is curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen, currently director of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art.
We would like to thank: Estonian Cultural Endowment, Ministry of Culture, Tallinn Department of Culture, Veinisõber