Solo exhibition. The Transition: Performance 1987 and an Overview of the Oeuvre at the Adamson-Eric Museum
Siim-Tanel Annus’s (1960) exhibition The Transition juxtaposes two fields of activity – performance and pictorial art – and demonstrates the connections between them. Thus, the word “transition” becomes a keyword that leads viewers from the artist’s youthful undertakings to his current work. This is symbolised by a photo of a performance from 1987 that connects the two exhibition halls, in which Annus forms a circle of fire around himself, which the visitors walk through.
The first part of the exhibition introduces the artist’s performance Transitions (also named after the venue at Mooni St 46a), which took place in his garden. Extensive preparations were made for the performance that took place on 5 December in 1987: Finnish TV had obtained an official permit from Moscow to film the performance. In the course of the performance, Annus conducted a fire ritual, while wearing a white robe and a crown. The culmination of the performance was passing through a fiery gate on a wheeled platform while blindfolded. However, at the end of the performance, the audience was surprised by the police, who took the artist and the TV crew to the station for interrogation. Thus, the artist’s initial rather universal plans became intertwined with political reality and gained momentum from subsequent events, including Estonia regaining its independence, and granted Annus the title of “prophet” in retrospect. The ambivalence of Annus’s images established fertile ground for vastly differing interpretations of his works, including those related to current events. The artist himself has seamlessly embraced some of these interpretations, saying that he had already demolished his wall two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The exhibition includes traces of performances recorded in various media: the art historian Evi Pihlak’s eyewitness observations and media reports, Katariina Laht’s documentary film and Ariel Lagle’s sound design.
In the exhibition, a dialogue is established between Annus’s performance and pictorial art, from the late 1970s to the present day. In a sense, Siim-Tanel Annus has been creating one total work of art throughout his life, in which visionary and geometric graphic pictures, which he created while still a teenager, are organically intertwined with mystical garden rituals and current large-scale paintings. The connection between them can be seen as a striving for “another brighter world”, as Evi Pihlak has pointed out. This ideal world is characterised by minimalist transparency – a tabula rasa – into which viewers can project themselves. The artist has not strictly defined the symbols that develop; rather, they take shape in our imaginations. Therefore, the nature of Annus’s work is therapeutic “state-of-mind art”, which, without forcing itself on viewers, enables them to transcend their daily experiences.
Curator: Liis Kibuspuu, exhibition design: Sylvia-Johanna Annus, graphic design: Külli Kaats, music: Ariel Lagle, audio and video technician: Mati Schönberg, exhibition team: Kaarel Eelma, Uve Untera, Laura Tahk, educational programme: Annika Teras