Tallinn Photomonth ’21 announces its main programme

Tallinn Photomonth is the city’s biennial of contemporary art and visual culture, one of the biggest art events in Estonia. Founded in 2011, it broadly examines the developments in art and society across all artistic practices. 

For its 6th edition, which takes place between September 1 and October 17, 2021, the biennial will investigate current notions of coping and adaptation, and the development of community during a challenging time of significant change.

Tallinn Photomonth will open with Art Fair Foto Tallinn’s preview on September 1. Part of the main programme, this year’s edition will be curated by Isabella Van Marle and will run from September 2 – 5 at Kai Art Center.

The biennial as a whole is centred around an exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM), which opens September 3 and runs for the duration of the biennial. The exhibition will be curated by TOK, a female curatorial collective co-founded in 2010 by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits in St. Petersburg as a platform for challenging the borders of the territory of art. TOK’s multilayered, durational and cross-disciplinary projects generate new knowledge about the causes and consequences of changing political realities. Existing at the intersection of historical analysis and the political imaginary, they investigate mechanisms of local governance, public space, educational systems and others.

At Cinema Sõprus, a programme of artist films curated by Len Murusalu and Julian Ross will be screened on September 26 and October 10, each screening will be followed by an artist talk. 

To conclude the biennial, on October 15 – 16 there will be a symposium held across Narva Art Residency (NART) and Kai Art Center, TOK’s residencies at both sites ahead of their exhibition at EKKM, will inform the symposium’s theme and structure. 

After receiving over 60 applicants from its open call in April 2021, Tallinn Photomonth will also host an exciting satellite programme alongside its main events. Chosen by a selection committee, the full roster will be announced in August 2021.

Satellite programme selection committee: Aleksander Tsapov (Müürileht), Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo (Foku; Estonian Academy of Arts) and from the biennial’s side Anastassia Dratšova, Madli Ehasalu, and the directors of Tallinn Photomonth Kulla Laas and Merilin Talumaa.

An integral part of the Tallinn Photomonth is its public and education programme highlighting connections between exhibitions, expanding topics relevant to the programme and engaging with audiences. Forming an important part of the main- and satellite programmes, the biennial has also enlisted a team to conduct a trilingual education programme for schools.

Tallinn Photomonth is organised collaboratively by the Estonian Union of Photography Artists (Foku) and the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center (ECADC).

Kai Art Center
September 2 – 5, 2021

Opening September 1, 2021
Curator: Isabella Van Marle

Foto Tallinn is an art fair dedicated to presenting a wide range of contemporary photography. The fair offers national and international galleries, artists and project spaces working with the medium of photography, a platform for collaboration, meetings and discussions. Foto Tallinn’s programme includes meetings with artists, panel discussions and book launches. In addition, the fair will feature special events for (prospective) art collectors, curators and professionals working in the field of photography, and curated tours arranged during the fair days.The curator of the 10th edition of the fair says, ‘after a long pause for art fairs, biennials and exhibitions around the world — with many cultural platforms forced to postpone their activities — the opportunity to curate the Foto Tallinn fair comes at a particularly special time. I look forward to welcoming artists and galleries from across the globe, and to presenting an impression of the diverse landscape of contemporary photography to our audiences in Tallinn.’

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM)
September 4 – October 17, 2021
Opening September 3, 2021
Curators: Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits (TOK)

Having completed  residencies in Tallinn and Narva that will shape their forthcoming ambitious exhibition at EKKM, TOK’s conceptual framework is inspired by “intensive places”, a term coined by the Russian philosopher and media researcher Mikhail Kurtov, which builds up on the principles of humanitarian geography. An “intensive place” is a power place, where processes begin and where they are retained, where experiences are connected and where they move on to other contexts, where previously not-connected actions and ideas gather and transform into new concepts that help generate new knowledge and modes of being.

By mapping and unpacking these “intensive places” TOK will undertake the following research directions and problematics: political imaginary and decoloniality in architecture; intersectionality and urban planning; industrial heritage and its ecological traces; public and private spaces and the hidden universes in between. There will be a selection of international and Estonian artists taking part in the project. Estonian artists will be commissioned to create new work or present their ongoing research.

Often working outside of usual art spaces, TOK infiltrates into social structures, bringing their strains and corrupt functions into the public discourse in order to revisit the roles and powers of social institutions and redraft their potential future.

Cinema Sõprus
September 26 & October 10, 2021, 16:30 – 19:30
Screenings from 17:00 followed by an artist talk
Curators: Len Murusalu and Julian Ross

According to the curators of this year’s film programme, ‘the 2021 artists’ film programme consists of two thematically joined and partially expanded screenings that unite historical and contemporary works of artists’ moving image across the world. The screenings engage with doubles, diplopia and dialogue, within themselves and with each other, on both a conceptual and a visual level.’

Narva Art Residency (NART), Narva City and Kai Art Center, Tallinn
October 15 – 16, 2021

For the first time in Tallinn Photomonth’s programme history, there will be a two day symposium to conclude the biennial. Curated in part by TOK, it will take place across Narva Art Residency (NART), a cultural platform that facilitates residencies, art exhibitions, talks and educational workshops. It is located in Narva city on the Estonian-Russian border on the historical Kreenholm site, and Kai Art Center, a cultural hub for local and international art founded in 2019 by the ECADC, located in the vibrant and recently developed industrial heritage area of Noblessner.


Tallinn Photomonth is an international biennial of contemporary art, initiated by the Estonian Union of Photography Artists (Foku) in 2011. It coordinates and supports collaboration between art institutions, galleries and artists. Initiated by a group of artists working mainly with photography and video, today, the biennial has expanded its medium specificity and looks more broadly at developments in art and society in a world increasingly mediated by cameras, screens and images.

EKKM is a self-established non-profit initiative run by artists and curators, which has been operational since late 2006. The building itself is an ex-squat in an ancillary building of Tallinn’s former heating plant in North Tallinn.

TOK was co-founded in 2010 by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits. Originating in St Petersburg, they have worked and conducted projects in Russia, USA, the Middle East and different countries in Europe. The majority of their projects are multi-layered, long-term initiatives aimed at generating new knowledge about the causes and consequences of changing political and social realities, and often lie between historical analysis and the political imaginary. They deal with current issues that are widely discussed both in Russia and internationally, such as migration, public space and local governance, educational system and citizenship, deprivation of social and natural resources, forming collective memory, gender rights and legislative system, the growing role of the media in the global society,  technological pervasiveness and many others.

Isabella Van Marle is a creative consultant and curator based in Amsterdam. She is the co-founder of Pictures for Purpose, an initiative that started its life in 2020 in the shape of a fundraising print by international artists. Foundation Pictures for Purpose aims to raise funds and awareness for charities through the medium of photography. Isabella has worked as the fair curator of Unseen and has served on the jury of several photography festivals and events.

Len Murusalu is an is an Estonian artist and filmmaker. Her interdisciplinary work explores questions around the interpretation of history, memory, identity, and time perception using moving image, video performance, photography, sound, installation and painting.

Julian Ross is a curator, researcher and writer based in Amsterdam. He is a programmer at the 50th International Film Festival Rotterdam and Assistant Professor at Universiteit  Leiden, Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS).



Foto Tallinn 2019. Photo: Aurelia Minev.

Öpik, Armin. View from Põhja puiestee to the power plant, 1941. Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia.

Mika Taanila. Still from the film performance “The Zone of Total Eclipse“, 2006.