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Image Drain

Curator: Anthea Buys

A retrospective exhibition of the photo museum of fictional businessman Osip Mandelstam will be opened at Tallinn Art Hall


From September 2nd, Image Drain, the main exhibition of contemporary art biennial Tallinn Photomonth, will be open at Tallinn Art Hall and Museum of Photography, with the participation of 13 artists from all over the world. The exhibition, curated by Anthea Buys, combines artworks with a fictional story about a Russian businessman, his dreams and his interest in the technology of photography.


The exhibition will stay open until October 8th.


Curator: Anthea Buys
Artists: Andrew Amorim (NO), Victoria Durnak (NO), Mathijs van Geest (NO/NL), Carl Johan Högberg (NL), Henri Hütt (EE), Toril Johannessen (NO), Paul Kuimet (EE), Laura Kuusk (EE), Antonis Pittas (GR/NL), Mårten Spångberg (SE), André Tehrani (NO), James Webb (ZA), Kristina Õllek (EE)

In today’s era of total saturation with images, the outlines of the photograph have blurred completely. A photographic image used to be a unique wonder, the creation of which required minutes, if not hours to be spent in the darkroom. Nowadays, taking a picture is as simple as pressing a button and the result can be seen by countless people all over the world. What is a true photo, then? Is it an image on paper or pixels on a glowing screen? And what is that gleam you see in front of your eyes, when you close them before falling asleep?


Osip Mandelstam is faced with a similar question, as he wakes up one morning, sees a colourful flowery pattern before his eyes and does not know how it got there. Is it a memory of some photo or is his unconscious playing tricks on him? Who knows if in the future we will still be looking at photos with our eyes, or would we see them as mental images, or sense them as a taste on the tips of our tongues?


“The exhibition uses the notion of the photographic as an approach to the visual world, rather than photography as an instrument limited by certain technical specifications. In this understanding, a photograph is how one regards the world and makes sense of it, and therefore photography does not have to be limited to the production of traditional photographs,” curator Anthea Buys describes the premise of her exhibition. In addition to the opportunity to appreciate conventional photos, visitors of Image Drain can dive into the world of virtual reality, to experience audio dramas, installations and video pieces.


Tallinn Photomonth’s directors Kadri Laas and Laura Toots invited Anthea Buys to curate the main exhibition of this year’s biennial because they were fascinated by her methods and poetic approach “We read Buys’s earlier texts, where she combined theory with made-up stories, and those texts introduced us to her intuitiveness, her curiosity about the contemporary world and her interest in commenting on what is around us from a distinctive fictional aspect.”


The exhibition is accompanied by an informational booklet that includes descriptions of the art pieces, the curatorial essay and a work of fiction about Osip Mandelstam.


As part of Image Drain, two artworks by James Webb are exhibited at the Museum of Photography.


We would like to thank the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Tallinn Office of Culture, Veinisõber, Kuu Stuudio, Sadolin, EV100, Mondriaan Fund, Kalev Spa, Estonian Union of Photography Artists, Estonian Contemporary Art Development Centre, Tallinn Photomonth, Bergen City Government, Norwegian Arts Council, Hordaland Kunstsenter and Digiekraanid.