GO EAST blog

this blog follows the road movie research of estonian performance artist katrin essenson and swiss performance artist matthias ruettimann across the former states of the sovjet union. mai - july 2016   


Paldiski parking lot

 Paldiski, Baltischport, old German founded seaport west from Tallinn, on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Old greenish five store flats with wooden verandas, pigeons practising Spring, a lonely howling dog in a forgotten two-room Appartment, crying the blues on Pakri-street this afternoon. A bewildered apple tree wastes his blossoms as a late married woman veiling embarrassed her aged beauty. In Paldiski ended independency of the first Estonian republic when sovjets forced the young and vulnerable state to accept red army  military bases pretending to support friendship in times of war. That was in September 1939 after the fatal Molotow-Ribentrop-contract which divided Eastern Europe between Germany and Sovjet Union. So began Paldiskis career that gained his high days as a forbidden zone in the seventies when it became a nuclear submarine base. Before the sovjets left the place in the nineties they destroyed the labyrinth of souterrainian caverns where the submarines were hidden. So told us a local who draw a map of the peninsula showing all remains of history. On the peak of the flat cliff surrounded peninsula arises a tall lighthouse 85 meters. The red colour flakes of the walls leaving a omnivisible long stretched map of hidden or sunken countries. 

You climb the 500 steps up and look over the green carpet made of birches, weed and prairies. And then you discover this strange building almost looking like a synagogue lost in the nowhere. So you hurry down the steps as if you had seen a seldom bird and you don't want to miss him. When you enter the outburst of spring you find the abandoned, given up house, whose doors are wide open as if the owner has waited for your coming. You walk on glasbricks and listen to the echo of your steps. DON'T SMOKE OR YOU WILL EXPLOSE is written in dark red letters in Russian language on a white door. A gas mask lays at the bottom of a metal ladder as someone had lost his face. Picking up a black glassy sign you discover on the backside a paper showing a map of an island. Height curves surround in slingery lines the archipelago which is named in Cyrillic letters MAINLAND. Where is Mainland you ask yourself and you imagine A kind of motherland. Later in the tavern, peetris tavern, a sinister medieval like inn beside the harbor, run by Russians the owner a veteran of the Chechnya war deciphers the Military map and locates your by accident found Mainland on the Shetland islands in the North Sea. Again you question the coincidence. What if your entire life was meant to bring you here to find this map that calls you to the Mainland? Nothing happens by accident, coincidence is the hidden roadmap of your life. All the little nondescript homey things which crisscross your way daily, moment for moment, they are meaningful and you realize how many tracks you fail to see and you miss to follow. So what to do if you consider all the littered signs, hints or references that you find on your way? Don't look at them? Shut down your awareness? No the answer seems to be as simple as it can be: just slow down your traveling, get attracted, stop, bend over and pick up what is catching your attention, then not you found the abandoned house, the mask, the map, no they found you.


fences – first coming to Estonia in summer 2015 you were fascinated by the abandoned houses and the collapsed industrial complexes. You were strolling through the quarters, crossing the wide empty space between the huge flats, prefabricated buildings from former Sovjet aera. And all over fallow land, badlands, wilderness crossed by small walking pathes and hidden resting places with butts and bottles and stories carried away by the baltic wind. Now coming back you remark an undercover process that’s rebuilding the urban landscape. Paejärv is a small lake in Lasnamäe part of Tallinn where men came since ever to throw their fishing lines into the cold dark water. And still today you can see them sitting on the shores, stoic sculptures of patience and eternity. This lake was surrounded by the badlands which connected the collective residential and living areas of mostly russian speaking population with pure nature. But Lasnamäe becomes more and more a prefered living area for upcoming mid and upper class citizens. The lake became a recreation area with jogging trail and playgrounds for children. Smaller flats grow along the boundary of a more and more harnessed piece of wild nature. And with the new flats came the fences. Green painted, narrow structured metal fences, approximately 1.8 m high with outwards bent peaks. And with the fences tarred pathways come along. You realise that your walks follow a planed and executed order, structures built by fences. The public space is less and less a place that belongs to the public in the sense that the passerby makes up his way. More and more you have to follow the set and predetermined connections. And you remark it’s not a question of more and more people sharing the same space but it is the expression of a possesive, on property founded thinking. „Step out“, „video surveillance“, „watch the dog“ are the welcome messages at the gates of the locked in residences. If you come to the former Sovjet panel settlements you look at the merely ordered, natural remained space between the flats in a releasing way. On clothes lines the laundry is dancing like fluttering flags, free accessible, unfenced and trustfully, unashamedly exposed to the community.

To investigate! – Is the building of fences a global pattern of capitalism, not only for dividing property but also a effective instrument for domesticating, controling and manipulating citizens.

how to get away

buy tickets and go - by train from Biel to Basel, from Basel to Berlin, stay some days in Kreuzberg and get the flow by improvisation, listen to the broter Karamasow in the Volksbühne at the Rosa-Luxemburg-square and remember the sentence:

Then leave Berlin by train and arrive in delay in Warsaw (not to confound with Joy Division), take a taxi to the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews and enter just before closing time, meet Frank Stella, the outstanding American artist who constructed abstract images, reliefs inspired by Synagogues of Historic Poland, Synagogues which disappeared in the flames of the II WW.

Later at night, 11pm, you enter a bus from Warsaw to Vilnius, sleep next to Nadja, a polish student who recommends you to visit Romania and who is on the scale of happiness at level nine from ten, explaining that she learned to overcome difficulties and resistance. Take a break in the warm morning sun at Vilnius coach station and merge to another world unlabled yet. On platform 19 your bus to Riga awaits you and brings you in 4 and a half hours to Riga crossing flat, yellow painted landscapes and arrive in a snowstorm of appleblossoms in the latvian capital. Stay a little bit on the seaside and walk over to Arsenals, museum for modern Art, to honor Ilmars Blumbergs (1943-2016) "people like him only appear once every century" and follow Snowing all the Time (Visu laiku snieg), a serie of 35 paintings tracing Latvia's history from Stalinist deportations to the restoration of independence. 

Sit later in another bus from the company LuxExpress which brings you in this delightful light of a slowly, very slowly sinking sun along the sea to last of the baltic states, Estonia. Arrive after eleven pm. and get packet into a taxi and end up on the third floor in an smokey apartment of a former member of the parlament, who welcomes you with a hughe glass of Vodka preparing you for Russia. He reminds you not to film any buildings like bridges, railway stations, industrial complexes, always pretend to be a tourist, don't try to be an artist and as a tourist never try to buy an official, that makes it worse. Dazed from the current speech and the endless ascending smoke that climbs the bookshelves where all is written about the KGB, about Stalin, Peter Suur, Hitler, Lenin, Trotzky, the whole who is who of a still lasting history.

so you get to the east as some flotsam thrown to the beach at the Baltic Sea. 


maikellukese päevad

Festival maylilly days in EKKM 14.05.2016

estonia has 1.4 mio inhabitants. If there is a festival of course then everybody knows everybody.