A visual artist Anna Jaaniste based in Australia is coming to Mardu to explore how her Estonian roots reflect in her art practice

We asked Anna to write about her background, agenda and expectations and we would like to share her piece of writing with you, in case somebody has an idea one would like to share with Anna to help her with research.

I am Anna Jaaniste, a visual artist based in Sydney Australia. I consider myself a sculptor, because my work is very physical and spacial. It explores what it is to live through our bodies and senses, to be in contact with the physical world around us.

I make objects, installations, performance, sound, video work. My work is usually site-specific, ephemeral, improvisational, made using materials at hand, and is highly responsive to my connection with land and place.

I see my art works as a living process rather than as the production of static art objects. The artworks are facilitators of experience (for both the audience and myself) - they are of the moment, they are integrated with daily life.
My parents were both born in Estonia and left as young children during WWII. They met as teenagers in Australia. So I was born and grew up in a country I love - Australia - whilst having full Estonian blood. I have always been aware of the influence of my Estonian heritage on my worldview. I have also for a long time been drawn specifically to visiting the boglands in Estonia (I am not sure why - just that somehow the boglands have dreamt their way into my core.)

When I began my Masters by Research this year, I saw it was the perfect opportunity to go to Estonia and explore these connections through my art practice. My research proposal is to:
  1. Investigate my art making processes 
  2. Investigate my Estonian cultural heritage - by directly experiencing the land through my art practice, and also to learn what I can about the ancient Finno-Ugric cultural practices. 
  3. Observe if there are any commonalities between my own worldview (reflected in my art practice), and my Finno-Ugric cultural heritage. In a way, it is about exploring how my current life and my cultural heritage are wrapped up together - through immersing myself in my art practice.
The way I will approach my residency at Mardu Studio is to be open-minded. I will spend my time experiencing the land - listening, walking, just being there, following impulses - and then see what arises for me to explore in my art making processes. My work processes are very intuitive and responsive to the moment, to the situation I find myself in - so I never try to predict what sort of work I may or may not make. I may respond to the weather, local animals, plants, stories, people, my own behaviours, the land, water, a feeling, a conversation, a moment, a desire, texture, shadow… The time is to allow some of the place to seep into me, and perhaps a little of me to seep into the place, and just let that be. Things will unfold as I am there.

As described above, as well as immersing myself in my own art practice, I am hoping to learn what I can about the old Finno-Ugric ways and culture. Of course - as with all things - this is alive today and ever-evolving, so please don’t think that I see it as some sort of “historic tradition”, a recording of the past only. If any chances arise, I would love to be able to observe/hear about any Finno-Ugric craft practices, manual work, musical tradition/expression, beliefs and lore, any cultural practices that are connected to the land, local or further afield.

My 4-week stay at Mardu Studio this October will be part of a 10-week visit to Estonia and Finland during October, November and December 2015. I will be spending time with my relatives in Tallinn (having time to make some short trips to other areas as I wish). I will also be visiting Finnish friends in the Finnish Archipelago, and Finnish Lapland. All along the way I will be working and researching.

It may be that I follow up this Estonian trip with another one in Summer 2016 - to consolidate, to continue, to experience in a different season.

See more: Anna Jaaniste's website

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