Merike Estna and Maria Metsalu
Soft Scrub, Hard Body, Liquid Presence
November 18, 2017–January 13, 2018
Art in General
145 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 12–6pm
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Performances by the artists presented in conjunction with Performa 17 :
Merike Estna, Red Herring
Friday, November 17, 5–8pm
Maria Metsalu, Mademoiselle X
Friday, November 17, 7–9pm
Lugemik Bookshop :
November 21, 2017–January 13, 2018
Open inside the exhibition during gallery hours
Art in General and Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia (CCAE) present an exhibition and performances by artists Merike Estna and Maria Metsalu, curated by CCAE Director Maria Arusoo. The performances are part of Performa 17  and kick off Art in General’s International Collaboration exhibition, Soft Scrub, Hard Body, Liquid Presence .
Soft Scrub, Hard Body, Liquid Presence  observes a shift taking place in the realm of our aesthetic and emotional sensibilities. The exhibition wonders if our over-consumption of virtual space and submission to the stress of competition and acceleration has provoked a deep mutation in the psychosphere, exploring the zombified body as a response to today’s evolving societal structures.
Today, individuals suffer under the duress of a continuously fractured and precarious landscape and—even more acutely—an understanding of the self. Looking particularly to the female perspective, the exhibition attempts to address this uncanny, post-accelerationist body in its new surroundings, questioning our state of turmoil, loneliness, and uncertainty surrounding the future.
Merike Estna’s works echo contemporary social concerns with allusions to the digital, the nostalgic, and a romantic reverence for the parts of human existence that are currently mutating, melting, and slipping away. Her performative paintings and multidimensional works—including textiles, curtains, and clothing—question the diminished value of traditional female labor. Estna’s performance Red Herring engages painting as a stage for human interaction.
Maria Metsalu’s sculpture and video deal with the politicization of sexuality and the millennial body. She confronts our current conditions by taking her own body as the epicenter of her work, turning it into a shimmer as sublimely dull as that on a screen. Her performance Mademoiselle X blurs relationships between self and structure in a time of technological advancement and sociopolitical uncertainty.
The artist-founded, Tallinn-based publisher Lugemik  also presents a mini-bookshop within the exhibition, open during gallery hours. Lugemik provides a specially-curated selection of books for browsing and for sale that contextualize the exhibition’s themes and provide a glimpse into the contemporary art scene in Estonia.
Merike Estna is an Estonian artist whose work inscribes the vocabularies of painting onto scenery and stage design, inviting visitors to activate her artworks with artist-made drinks, snacks, and napkins. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts with a Bachelor’s degree in Painting, and from Goldsmiths College, University of London with a Master’s degree in Fine Art Practice. Her work is featured in current and upcoming exhibitions at London Kunstraum; and Kim? Riga, among others. genialmythcraft.com
Maria Metsalu is an Estonian performance artist. Her works express an ongoing interest in self-mythologization and autopoiesis via new, corporate technologies in an attempt to understand their terms of social exchange and transformation. Metsalu graduated from School for New Dance Development in 2016, and is one of the founding members of Young Boy Dancing Group. Her work has been shown in Manifesta 11, Kunsthalle Vienna, Tallinn Art Hall, and the 2016 NU Performance Festival in Tallinn, Estonia.
Lugemik  is an independent publishing initiative based in Tallinn, Estonia, founded in 2010 by graphic designer Indrek Sirkel and artist Anu Vahtra. Lugemik publishes books and other printed matter, working closely together with artists, writers, designers, and printers in every step of the publishing process.
Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia (CCAE), founded in 1992, aims to activate and develop the Estonian contemporary art scene. CCAE organizes exhibitions, a wide variety of public programs, and publishes catalogues and online texts, among other international projects. Since 1999, CCAE has been the commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and since 2016 co-commissioner of Baltic Triennial.
Art in General  is a nonprofit contemporary art organization that assists artists with the production and presentation of new work. Founded in 1981 by artists, it has been a pioneering force unlike any other institution in New York City, supporting thousands of local and international artists early in their careers. Alongside Art in General’s exhibition programs that take place in New York and internationally, its public programs and publications examine critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice. Offering support that will have a lasting impact on artists remains the cornerstone of its vision and programs.