The project “O”, authored by five people. All accompanying photos are from the LIFT 11 archives

Lifting the Urban Environment 0

Anna Iltnere

The urban installation festival, LIFT 11, has been taking place in Tallinn since the beginning of May and will go on until September 12; it is part of the program celebrating Tallinn as the European Capital of Culture for the year 2011. Ten installations are being gradually erected during the summer; they will all be finished by august and will be available for viewing until the end of the festival.

LIFT 11 is being organized by four curators: two architects – Margit Aule and Margit Argus from the architect association KAOS, and two art curators – Maarin Mürk, who is the founder of the art critique website, and is currently working on her doctoral dissertation; and Ingrid Ruudi, who curates architectural exhibitions, such as Estonia's pavilion at the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2008, when a large, yellow gas pipeline was stretched across the Giardini. Ingrid Ruudi has also worked with the “Straw Theater” project, which is on display in Tallinn until the autumn; it is definitely something to go see this summer. (Read our article on the “Straw Theater” in the archives).

The LIFT 11 projects were chosen through a competitive process; out of a total of 129 candidates, twelve came out on top. Only ten will be displayed, however, because City Hall later decided against two of the projects. The contest was open to those for whom Estonia has been a long-term place of residence.  Most of the winners are artists and architects of Estonian heritage, but one of the installations was created by a Japanese architect, who has lived and worked in Tallinn for many years.

The curators were inspired to make a festival of the likes that Tallinn had never seen before, but were faced daily with the question: “Is Tallinn ready for something like this?” They realized that if they hadn't been taken under the wing of  Tallinn as European Capital of Culture for 2011, such a festival would hardly see the light of day. Moreover, being a part of the Capital of Culture program added additional (though healthy) pressure and responsibility. It was a double-edged sword. But nevertheless, it was truly fortuitous, because the chosen works have turned out convincing.

Quite possibly, large thanks should be given to the close cooperation between the curators and the participants; together they analyzed and improved upon the chosen projects. All four curators note that none of the projects were perfect when first submitted. The architects were lacking in creative flight, but the artists characteristically failed to realize the scope of the urban environment, their works would virtually get lost within it.