Naturally, It Is Not
Naturally, It Is Not looks at nature not only as an environment external to the body, a place we can take our bodies to but also understands the body as a (natural) site. But rather than thinking of nature, and by extension human nature, as unchanging, something we could go back to, here, both the natural environment and the body are understood as being constantly in transformation, perhaps even mutation. It is becoming increasingly difficult to separate what is man-made and what is not – we live in a time of climate emergency, all-permeating microplastics, hybrid composite landscapes littered with all kinds of waste from electronics to textiles. The things we produce are what we become.
In the context of new (technological) potential for creation and production, new opportunities to shape our self evolve and arise. Sometimes these are emancipatory, sometimes less so. Different kinds of body extensions, enhancements and prosthetics have always been part of the human experience – created and used either out of need or desire, or perhaps both. Often, these enhancements, expressing a self that feels more authentic or healthier or safer or more enjoyable become contested on the basis of the idea of what is natural, and are sometimes seen as a source of danger or threat to the perceived natural order. However, both nature and people change over time: what is considered natural in one era may not be so in another. Within the context of this exhibition, these enhancements are presented as adornment – objects somewhere between jewellery, embellishment, accessories, prosthetics. These objects of adornment mark and enhance the wearer and can be used to highlight the body as well as various aspects of culture.
Keiu Krikmann is a writer, curator and translator based in Tallinn. Since 2021, she is the managing editor of A Shade Colder Magazine. Her latest curatorial projects include Excess and Refusal in 2020 at the Kim? Centre for contemporary art in Riga and in 2021 at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, as well as Her Legs, an Egg, Her Toil(e) and Blankets at the Tallinn City Gallery in 2022.
Darja Popolitova is an artist, PhD student and lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Art. She works with jewellery, digital technology and video. In 2020 Popolitova was awarded the Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and in 2018 the Estonian Ministry of Culture’s scholarship and the Adamson-Eric scholarship. Since 2023, she is one of the recipients of the state’s artists salary.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the poetry collection of trans poet and activist Callie Gardner (1990–2021), who in turn borrowed it from Gertrude Stein.
Designers: Jojo & me (Johanna Ruukholm, Martina Gofman)
Exhibition team at the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design: Ketli Tiitsar, Toomas Übner, Silvia Pärmann, Helen Adamson
Thank you: Loit Jõekalda, Karl-Christoph Rebane
Exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia