Exhibition 'Ex Libris' at SILLART, Sillamä

2024 05 04 — 2024 07 07
Author Echo Gone Wrong
Published in Events in Estonia

This exhibition is inspired by the library left behind in the School n. 1 of Sillamäe, an institution that was closed in 1999. Subsequently, the building hosted the ECOMEN Institute of Economics & Management for seven years before being abandoned.

In Latin, ex libris referred to anything that comes out of the books. In Medieval times, the term started to be used in relation to a book owner’s identification label. Now, the library has been intruded by a series of artists, re-appropriating its materials in a parasitical way.

The books are still present, alas they do not always make sense in the present. Nonetheless, their ideas and aesthetics keep on fermenting otherwise. Burden or delayed gift, the library is available for novel relations of exchange.

But what kind of knowledge is lost when a library disappears? How can we accommodate what does not fit in the present? And what can we learn by looking into the things we left behind?

Curator: Francisco Martínez
Designer: Viktor Gurov
Artists: Anna Škodenko, Eléonore de Montesquiou, Evgeny Fedorov, Francisco Martínez, Sanna Kartau, Varvara & Mar, Viktor Gurov.
Dates: 4th May / 7th July 2024
Venue: SILLART (Sillamäe)

The four-story building on Primorsky Boulevard was built in 1953 by war prisoners as part of the production of a Soviet way of life. At the entrance, there used to be a sculpture of a pioneer greeting the children, and the fourth floor was run by Komsomol students.

Portraits of political figures, scientists, and writers were hanging on the walls too. They are all gone, but the library remains, full of dust, unread, falling apart, going through semiotic estrangement. The hybrid selection of books shows this library as parasitical to other libraries, made up of donations coming from places such as Leningrad, York, Maribo, Hamburg, Turku and Toronto.

The school is currently undergoing renovations to turn it into a privately-owned cultural hub, Sillart, which plans to host a restaurant, offices, lofts, a gallery and a beauty parlour. The exhibition will take place on the second and fourth floors, in the halls pending repair.

Sillamäe is the most non-Estonian city in Estonia. For decades, local residents lived separated from the surroundings, as if the town were on a different planet. After WWII, Sillamäe was developed from ruins as an industrial-military town, supplying nuclear materials until 1989. During that period, the existence of the town became a public secret. Uranium from Sillamäe was used in the first Soviet-made nuclear bomb, and thousands of young workers relocated here from all corners of the empire.

Thanks to: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, WasteMatters ERC Project, Embassy of Spain to Estonia, National Library of Estonia, Fragrance Gallery, Hansabuss, Purtse, Sillamäe municipality, Semjon Krasulin, Eduard Zentsik, Allen Allet, Vladimir Gruzdev, Igor Daineko.