As a continuation of her recent solo exhibition Filtering With Cyanobacteria, Double Binds and Other Blooms at the ISSP Gallery (Riga, Latvia), Õllek explores the geological and chemical changes of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most polluted seas due to intensive agriculture, hazardous substances, domestic and industrial wastes, marine litter and underwater noise that has affected its ecosystem. It is a semi-enclosed sea with a slow water exchange and its recovery capacity is, therefore, relatively limited. The excess nutrients in the water (fertilisers, etc.), inadequate water treatment, and rising sea temperatures create eutrophication and significantly affect the cyanobacteria community, leading to increasing annual cyanobacteria blooms. The toxic blue-green algal blooms create hypoxia, highly depleted and oxygen-poor areas. These areas are called ‘dead zones’ and they have a major impact on marine ecology. In addition to these annual dead zones, there’s also approximately 60,000 – 80,000 km2 of the Baltic’s seabed in a variable dead zone due to water that is more saline and denser that remains on the bottom, therefore isolating it from surface waters and the atmosphere.
At her exhibition at Kogo Gallery, Õllek is reflecting on the Baltic Sea through the presence of algal blooms, a speculative perspective and a sedimented past – through several-hundred-million-year-old marine sedimentary rocks, limestone. Within a wide range of different (approximately 100) limestone types in Estonia, formed between 472 and 416 million years ago, she’s particularly interested in the Silurian period’s Borealis limestone. Also known as shell limestone, it consists largely of the fossilised shells of the brachiopod Borealis borealis, and it’s claimed that the world’s biggest Borealis Bank deposit is located in Estonia. This sedimentary layer was formed approximately 440 million years ago, when the area of Estonia was at the equator, covered by a shallow tropical sea, and when various mollusks, trilobites, cephalopods, corals, and sea lilies were abundantly found.
For the solo exhibition at Kogo gallery, Kristina Õllek has been working with limestone, sea salt, cyanobacteria, bioplastic and clay, and other materials that become part of the photographic works and the installation, acquiring another physical layer and materiality with its own agency.
The opening of the exhibition takes place on 31 March at 18.00. The exhibition is on view 31.3.–20.5.2023, the gallery is open for visits Wed–Fri at 13.00–19.00, Sat at 13.00–18.00. Kogo Gallery is situated in Tartu, Estonia at Aparaaditehas on Kastani 42.
The exhibition is accompanied by a versatile public programme, the first event takes place on 1 April at 14.00 when the artist Kristina Õllek gives an exhibition tour at the gallery, the event is in Estonian. The gallery announces other events during the exhibition on its Facebook page.
The exhibition is funded by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and Tartu – City Of Good Thoughts.
Production and public programme: Stella Mõttus
Exhibition co-organising and administration: Šelda Puķīte and Liina Raus
Communication: Karin Kahre ja Stella Mõttus
Installation: Siim Asmer ja Urmo Teekivi
Graphic design and artist’s dialogue partner: Kert Viiart
Special thanks to Kert Viiart, Mare Isakar, Carlotta Põdra, the Natural History Museum at the University of Tartu, Põhjakivi OÜ
The opening event is supported with drinks by Põhjala Brewery
Kogo is a contemporary art gallery in Tartu, Estonia, founded in 2018. The gallery focuses on the younger generation of artists, currently representing eight artists from the Baltic countries. Kogo Gallery is committed to encouraging dialogue on important issues of today by running an extensive public programme alongside the exhibitions.