The chimney in the street

Yesterday I was a witness to what is nowadays called a cultural urban intervention. In a semi-legal action the citizens of Tallinn made a present to their own city in the form of an urban art piece by “upgrading” an existing piece with an additional piece of work.

Right in front of one of the rare inner city Stalinist buildings situated around Karjavärava square, hosting among others the Hollywood club and the Sõprus cinema, real estate entrepreneurs put up a statue of a chimney sweeper as a high-profile art present just last year. This has been generally approved by the elites of the city as a contribution of a lobby, envisioned as important for city development in terms of architecture and business.

However, the imposition of meaning by this piece of art has not yet reached the general public in the ways intended. Apparently, there is a still a group of people, mainly young activists, contesting such moves of colonizing urban space. During the aforementioned action, they have chosen to hide the statue by constructing a temporary chimney around it. Obviously offending parts of the city elites, the chimney was taken down soon thereafter.

In this busy street, part of what I would call the party Bermuda triangle of Tallinn Old city, such an affront is a direct comment of citizens towards the praxis of the city to consider what is art and what is not. Impressed by the dynamism of the young and coming artists and activists of this city, I intend this post here to draw my hat before those people and hail to them: Keep up with the confrontation, urge and participate in the discussion of what is the city and whom does it belong to. And if you are not heard, let this not stop you nonetheless.

This citizen project seems very much inspired by this year’s urban installations festival lift11, as you can see here.

Images in courtesy of this wonderful companion to art in Estonia, and Tallinn specifically: Artishok

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