What really goes on behind closed doors? Why is it safer on the streets than at home? How do male perpetrators – every fourth man in Estonia – justify their actions? How to recognise violence around us and where to get help?
Tallinn Art Hall presents Cut Out of Life, the largest solo exhibition to date of the work of Flo Kasearu, one of the most important creators of Estonian contemporary art, which conceptualises domestic violence against women, a social problem with devastating and severe effects on society.
Flo Kasearu’s art is playful, provocative and conceptual, studying the broader conditions of society. In recent years, the artist has drawn attention to the role of women. Cut Out of Life, Kasearu’s largest solo exhibition to date, is the result of a long process. Even though the problem, which was hushed up and considered taboo for a long time, has gained more and more coverage in Estonia in recent years, it still remains a pressing issue in society.
Kasearu’s personal interest in this topic has not just emerged recently and did not simply rise out of solidarity; rather, it is rooted within her own biography. In 2009, the artist’s mother, Margo Orupõld opened a women’s shelter in the city of Pärnu. Over the years, through creative workshops and art projects, Kasearu has been engaging with several generations of women living in and receiving counselling from the Pärnu Women’s Shelter.
Spanning across the generous spaces of the Art Hall, the artist conceived the exhibition as a narration in chapters that follows the efforts of survivors of violence who seek to gradually claim independence from their abusive partners. Kasearu knows how to direct our attention and press the right buttons, thus proposing helpful solutions and also showing that sometimes humour and laughter are the best forms of therapy.
“Kasearu belongs to the generation of young Estonian artists who witnessed a change of power after the collapse of the bipolar world order. When dealing with upheavals in Estonia, the artist is primarily interested in changes in personal and public life and their wider impact. In recent years she has drawn particular attention to the role of women in society,” says Cathrin Mayer, curator of the exhibition. “For her work Illustrating the Request for Privacy (2016), Kasearu organised a performance at NO99 Theatre in Tallinn with women who had suffered from severe domestic violence. In the course of two hours, the women read their court cases to the audience. The artist’s first major solo exhibition delves into the issue of domestic violence, exploring its various aspects and looking at the journey of breaking free from an oppressive relationship and restoring one’s independence.”
Flo Kasearu is an artist whose work combines performance art, video, photography, painting and installation. The nature of her works is exploratory, confronting issues at a grassroots level and concerning matters like freedom, patriotism and nationalism, domestic violence and the opposition between private and public spheres. Kasearu has studied painting and photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts and is the founder of the Flo Kasearu House Museum in Tallinn. Her latest exhibitions include Basic Pride (Galerie Kubnova, Prague, 2018), Festival of the Shelter (Pärnu Women’s Shelter, 2018) and Holes (Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, 2018).
Cathrin Mayer is a curator at the newly established Kunsthalle Steiermark (Graz, AT). From 2015 to 2018 she worked as assistant and from 2018 to 2020 as curator at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. There she presented various exhibitions such as solo shows by Anna Daučíková, Kris Lemsalu and Evelyn Taocheng Wang. In collaboration with Maurin Dietrich, Mayer established a new performance programme especially for KW as part of the “Pogo Bar” project. In addition to her work as a curator, Mayer regularly teaches courses and seminars at the UdK among others and is currently editing two books which will be published by Sternberg Press.