A curious conundrum
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
TALLINN 13 – 31 October Draakon Gallery Demiurge Tupperware
There are at least two good reasons to wander down to the cluster of Estonian Artist Association galleries on Pikk and Hobusepea streets. Read this and the next Northeast post to see why.
The title of the exhibition currently at Draakon Gallery in Pikk Street, while not immediately attractive, nevertheless piqued my curiosity. Why has the artist Lauri Koppel used these two words ‘demiurge’ and ‘Tupperware’? As Koppel generously explains in his gallery text, a demiurge is “a fallen divine but evil being” while Tupperware refers to the ubiquitous plastic containers every modern kitchen should have. The connection is elusive.
On entering the gallery, my eye is immediately caught by a series of three colour lithographs on the right-hand wall. These prints, presented in the traditional manner mounted behind glass with a simple timber frame, are of small abandoned summer cottages somewhere in the Estonian forest. On closer inspection the titles indicate they are located in Kloogaranna and Muraste both seaside areas to the west of Tallinn. I am still unsure about the exhibition title.
The next two timber frames do not contain prints – the first has a dull pink curtain that completely fills the frame. I immediately think of puppet theatres and what I might see if I draw the curtains. The second just has a sheet of particle board (OSB to be precise). I drift past this and take in the rest of the exhibition. I now see the left wall has a long series (at least 7 or 8 red and black prints) each of a different prehistoric or tribal sculptural mask or head. Are these demiurges? And then finally, on the rear wall of the gallery, there is a video.
So you can imagine my confusion and wonder why I am posting about this apparently disparate and confusing exhibition. Well, stay with me.
I notice the video is just starting and so I settle in to give it my usual 2-minute test. No need for the test. While the video as a whole is not much more than a simple short film that follows two guys as they explore some scrappy forest, its extended intro sequence is the real gem of the exhibition. A single shot lasting close to 3 minutes that not only clearly involved a lot of careful planning, but also manages so deftly to introduce the narrative and keep the viewer (at least this viewer) quite spellbound. Once entranced it was impossible not to stay and see where the narrative would take me. The options seem endless and by the end you might also find yourself thinking how else it might have ended.
In the end, watching the film as I did and when I did, made the series of red and black prints of prehistoric effigies seem less out of place and somehow I seemed to have gathered enough clues to unravel the conundrum that Koppel had set. I am still not sure about the title of the exhibition, although it did send me on a trajectory of thought that was ultimately useful. I am still not sure if the exhibition works as a whole, although there are enough clues to enter some kind of dialogue with the artist in your thoughts. But Koppel’s short film is very good indeed and I would say the exhibition is worth visiting just for that.
On until 31 October
Draakon Gallery, 18 Pikk Street
Mon to Fri 11.00–18.00 Sat 11.00–17.00
By Michael Haagensen