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Unio Mystica: Medieval women’s visions and the virtual imagination

The event will begin at St Catherine's Friary and end at Niguliste Museum. First 30 minutes will take place outdoors, please dress accordingly. Please arrive 10 min before!

We invite you to join us for a unique one-off tour ‘Unio Mystica’ bringing together mythologies and everyday stories of medieval women with contemporary mystical feminist narratives. You will be immersed, through performance and virtual reality, in confounding somatic practices and fantastical worlds that draw upon different experiences of embodying femininity – in life and death. 


The storytelling event ‘Unio Mystica’ concludes the two-month residency research of contemporary art curator Helen Kaplinsky at Tallinn Art Hall for international project Beyond Matter, exploring the virtual technological and mystical visions of women.


17.00  –  Intro by curator Helen Kaplinsky at St Catherine’s Friary

17.10 – Anu Mänd is an Art Historian focusing on gender, death, and animal symbolism in the late medieval Baltic region. She will begin by taking us on a tour of the oldest known Estonian woman’s gravestone. At Niguliste museum we will discuss the experiences of poor women and their children – how could the underprivileged prepare their souls for death?

17.45 – Artist Dominika Trapp will read from a hand-written scroll providing an over-view of ten years of her art practice against a backdrop of autobiographical ruminations – coming of age as a young woman in the Hungarian countryside, discomforts with contemporary feminism and her commitment to somatic intelligence, influenced of mystic and philosopher Simone Weil.

18.00 – Artist and conservationist Olesja Katšanovskaja-Münd will present her reconstruction of a rare and deteriorated 15th century painting – ‘The vision of St. Emerentia’. This will be followed by a somatic exercise, guiding a connection between the trinity of visual stimuli, inner feelings and bodily expression.

18.30 – VR screening of ‘Tragodía’ (2019) by artist Tai Shani. Tragodía is a VR play written about three generations of women in the artist’s family and their nonhuman kin. The viewer embodies the avatar of the Ghost Child with each family members’ colossal head orbiting just out of reach. The work could be understood as a mystical vision of undefinable states of being that emerge during grief.


The residency is part of the large-scale cooperation project BEYOND MATTER – Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. It is dedicated to novel, digital approaches to exhibition revival, documentation, and dissemination, as well as the artistic, curatorial and museological development of the opportunities presented by virtual representation.


The event will begin at St Catherine’s Friary and end at Niguliste Museum. First 30 minutes will take place outdoors, please dress accordingly. Please arrive 10 min before!


Language: English

Duration: approximately 2h.

Tickets from Fienta: 

More info:

Detail of ‘St Emerentia’s dream’, wing of The Holy Kinship Altarpiece. Original location: one of the churches of Tallinn. Brussels workshop. Around 1500. Art Museum of Estonia. Reconstruction by conservationist Olesja Katšanovskaja-Münd, 2018. Oil on wood, fabric 120×49 cm


Anu Mänd (PhD) is senior researcher at the Institute of History, Archaeology and Art History of Tallinn University. Her main fields of research are social and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Baltic Sea region. She is the author of Urban Carnival: Festive Culture in the Hanseatic Cities of the Eastern Baltic, 1350–1550 (Brepols, 2005), Medieval Altars and Altarpieces (National Heritage Board, 2019, in Estonian), and several other books. 


Artist Dominika Trapp addresses the topic of women’s fate in traditional Hungarian peasant culture and the relationships that can be drawn with contemporary experiences of women, including eating disorders and feminism under rising nationalism in Hungary. Her paintings embrace intuition and introspection as a guiding methodology. In her curatorial and collaborative projects, she generates situations of dialogue between socially or culturally distant groups. For the past two years, she has participated in the residency programs of Art in General in New York, the Erste Stiftung in Vienna, and FUTURA in Prague. 


In her creative path, Olesja Katšanovskaja-Münd is constantly searching for intersections with interdisciplinary areas. Her education and work experience in fine art, museum pedagogy, and conservation have given her the opportunity to sense performance art as an artist, penetrate its deep layers as a conservator, and research in its functional component as an educator. Olesja’s performances and research projects were recently presented at the Austrian Cultural Center in New York, Shelter Art Laboratorium and International Festival in Helsinki.


Tai Shani’s practice encompasses performance, film, photography and sculptural installations, frequently structured around experimental monologues by women. The fantastical worlds she creates, inspired by disparate histories, manifest equally disturbing and divine images in the mind of the viewer. Tai Shani is one of the four awarded artists of the Turner Prize 2019. Shani’s recent solo and two-person exhibitions and performances include: DC: Semiramis, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2019), The Tetley, Leeds (2018), Nottingham Contemporary (2018).


Helen Kaplinsky is an independent curator based in Helsinki (FI). She is undertaking practice-based research at the Exhibition Research Lab, Liverpool John Moores University (UK) with the provisional title ‘Monstrous subjectivities: A re-evaluation of the posthuman in born-digital storytelling’, supervised by Joasia Krysa. Her most recent exhibitions include ‘GENDERS: Shaping and Breaking the Binary’ at Science Gallery London (2020) and ‘Alembic’, a collaboration between project space Res., Goldsmiths University and ICA (London, 2016-18). She is a trustee at Lewisham Art House (London) and lectures on curating and fine art courses internationally.


NB! At the entrance please present one of the following certificates:
1. Certificate of having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19,
2. Certificate on having contracted COVID-19 in the past.