TOK will curate Tallinn Photomonth’s main exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM)


The 6th edition of Tallinn Photomonth, the city’s contemporary art biennial, will take place between September 1 and October 17, 2021. 
The new directors of the biennial, Kulla Laas and Merilin Talumaa, together with the selection committee, are pleased to announce TOK Creative Association of Curators as the winners of a closed curatorial competition for the biennial’s main exhibition that will be presented at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) for the duration of the biennial. 
TOK's curatorial proposal was selected in close connection with the forthcoming biennial’s conceptual framework that is focused on notions of coping and adaptation, and the development of community during a challenging time of significant change.
When discussing its curatorial concept TOK stated, 
‘Our main goal is to find answers to the question "how to prepare for the future that will be based on the principles of interdependency and new ways of cohabitation?” As a method to search for a new cognitive apparatus to unpack and explain the past and current reality, we are inspired by the idea of “intensive places”, a term that builds up on the principles of humanitarian geography, coined by the Russian philosopher and media researcher Mikhail Kurtov. An “intensive place” is a power place, from where processes begin from and where they are retained, where experiences are connected and from 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 the “intensive places” we’ll be undertaking 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 between’.
Originating in St Petersburg, TOK was co-founded in 2010 by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits as a platform for interdisciplinary research-based projects in the field of contemporary art, architecture, design and social science. The curatorial collective endeavour to challenge the borders of the art territory and seek new ways to foster social change through diverse formats of curatorial strategy, artistic production and institutional format. 
Curated by TOK, Tallinn Photomonth 2021’s main exhibition at EKKM will also significantly direct the public and educational programme branching from it, and provide the contextual framework for other sections of the biennial. In addition to this, the curators will contribute to the biennial symposium’s theme and list of invited performers. This symposium takes place for the first time in the biennial’s programme history and is organised in collaboration with the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center (ECADC).
The selection committee for the Tallinn Photomonth 2021 curatorial competition included curator and writer Anna Goetz, PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University and Institute for Comparative Literature and Society Gustav Kalm, Director at Kai Art Center and Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center Karin Laansoo, Project Manager and Curator at EKKM Laura Toots and Directors of the Tallinn Photomonth 2021 Kulla Laas and Merilin Talumaa.
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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.
TOK curates exhibitions, organizes educational events, international conferences and summer schools, all programs are aimed at the international exchange between artists, curators, designers and educators from Russia and other countries. They also publish books, brochures and exhibitions catalogues that are available in print and online. Often working outside of the white cube, curators of TOK have extensive experience of curating and organizing art projects in urban public spaces and city parks. The framework of their ongoing project "Critical Mass", a platform for conducting research and developing knowledge on post-socialist conditions, included almost 40 new commissions, which were realized in different locations, public spaces and educational institutions in St Petersburg. TOK have curated projects for and collaborated with Manifesta 10, The National Center of Contemporary Art (Russia), Museum of History of St Petersburg, National Sculpture Factory in Cork, Artangel in London, Tromso Academy of Contemporary Art, Goethe Institute, British Council, Victoria Art Foundation (V-A-C), Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, The Creative Time, raumlabor Berlin, Young Biennale of Contemporary Art, The Center for Fine Arts BOZAR, De Apple, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam - SMBA, HIAP Augusta gallery, Israeli Center for Digital Art, Pro Arte Foundation, Jerusalem Biennale, CCA Fabrica in Moscow and more.
TOK is the winner of the apexart Open call 2020-2021 (exhibition "Voicing the Silence" to be presented in Moscow at CCA Fabrica in summer 2021) and a winner of the Innovation Russian Art Prize 2020 for the project 1st Curatorial Forum (together with the team of NCCA St Petersburg). 
In May-June 2021 TOK will complete a 6-week curatorial residency both at Kai Art Center, Tallinn and at Narva Art Residency (NART), Estonia (research residency “(Re)configuring Territories Residency”).
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