Tere to all of you, busy Tartu street explorers!
Probably most of you are already on their way home for the Christmas holidays, but for all the explorers still around and everyone who misses Tartu street art already, I am bringing Tartu streets directly to you!
For this post, I talked to Kadri Lind, who is one of the organizers of the Stencibility project as well as the city festival UIT in order to find out more about Tartu street art. Read on and gain some exclusive insights into Tartu city life. Here is what she would like to share with you.
Why is Tartu considered being the street art capital of Estonia?
Tartu is known for its vivid street art, one can spot stencils, stickers, paste-ups, yard-bombing, freehand, not to mention world quality murals. This active unsanctioned scene of artists working on the streets is becoming rare in other parts of the world since murals took over, but it’s still visible in Tartu. Tallinn has a very strong graffiti movement, and Pärnu is interesting because not much illegal street art nor graffiti can be found there, but Sõnum Seinal, the local street art festival, has organized quite a number of murals and exhibitions, which have added a lot of colour to the city.
What is the city of Tartu’s attitude towards street artists and their work?
As street art has been around for a while now and artists tend to be well-behaved and mysteriously anonymous in Tartu, then there’s a symbiosis-like relationship between the artists and the citizens. It is hard to say what the city thinks of street art since it is still illegal, but they support Stencibility and appreciate our work.
What does street art mean to you? What is your favourite piece (in Tartu) and why?
To me, street art means freedom to express oneself and a thrill to communicate with a stranger. It isn’t always about artistic expression, it can also be a sentence, etc. often the smallest things are the sweetest. The second important characteristic for me is the mixture of feeling the freedom not to worry about the quality of your work since it is anonymous, and at the same time huge responsibility and willingness to perform as good as you can because the work is located in the public space and is visible to everyone.
One of my favourite pieces is “BIIG TUSSU LAAV” because it is the silliest thing one can write on a wall and it’s been there since I remember. It’s up to you to find and translate it. Or decide is it art or not! Then I would recommend going to the Freedom Gallery which is under the bridge of Vabaduse. This space has become an independent illegal gallery, where one can find works by the local as well as foreign artists. A third example would be the newest mural of Stencibility in Supilinn, which is a site-specific work made by the Polish artists Sepe and Chazme.
Which projects are you supporting at the moment? When are your tours taking place and what do you show people?
I’m one of the “birth mothers” of urban festival UIT, where I curate our program. It is located in Tartu and is a city-exploring site-specific festival, more information can be found on our homepage. 2016 will be my third year organizing Stencibility and I also support Sõnum Seinal in Pärnu with some advice and muscles. Currently, I’m writing my master’s thesis in Urban Studies in the Estonian Academy of Arts and research on how temporary urban interventions change our perception of space.
*Stencibility organizes street art tours, the easiest way to participate is to wait until they announce one on their FB page or gather a group of friends and send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. A longer tour (2h) is on bikes and a shorter one (1h) on foot.
I hope you enjoyed this read. I also added some more snapshots of pieces I came across here in Tartu. Enjoy your Christmas holidays and keep exploring!