The Baltic Notebooks of Anthony Blunt
Curator’s Diary

Here’s a photo from the opening at the Loop gallery in Võru, taken by Margit Sade. You may also want to see this diary from Indrek Grigor who did another exhibition for the gallery, but I couldn’t get hold of the full text.
Curator’s Diary (The Left-Hand Pages)
Wednesday, 23.12.2009
Laura Kuusk is in Tartu for the Wladislaw Novak exhibition. The opening was yesterday; she came by the museum to borrow a dictaphone. I couldn’t go, had to pick up my kid from kindergarten.
Got off early from work today. At one o’clock took off from the museum towards Laura’s. It’s not freezing yet, but snow is falling heavily.
Her parents’ place is big and it’s in a good location, yet it feels ghostly – a Jugendstil dinosaur, as it were. No snow indoors, but it felt even chillier than outside. The exhibition she brought with her turned out to be even stranger than I had expected: Novak’s exhibition was placed inside a dollhouse. The Loop gallery is really just a dollhouse. It opens like a book. Two floors, four rooms. Fake ceiling lights. Laura’s project is ingenious. Easily reshaped without much ado, transportable, no hassle with insurance. I was overwhelmed. Started immediately (and rather impolitely) to offer counsel about how to install real lighting, etc.
Laura poured me a cup of tea. We mulled over everyday life, prosaic matters. Later I made some photos of the Loop, most of them pretty bland.
Left at about four o’clock with the arrival of darkness, in the middle of the continuing snowstorm. The gallery project is brilliant. I’m sick of the constant whining about money issues at the museum. Even with my own salary I could arrange an exhibition in this house and publish a catalogue for it.
Saturday, 17.04.2010
I can’t refuse the offer. It should be an exhibition of paintings from the Duul group.
It should be part of the “Artishok creates its own beauty” thing. I need to talk it over with the artists.
Will Laura take it to France as a travelling exhibition?
Monday, 03.05.2010.
It is not clear who exactly participates in the exhibition. The only definite ones are Peeter Krosmann and Rauno Thomas Moss. Peeter Ora is missing. We don’t know if he is still in the psychiatric hospital, and if not: is he able to paint while medicated? Krossman said he’d talk to Rauno. Also, Duul, as a tradition, should have a female member.
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Loop gallery:
Outside width: 26 cm
Height: 33 cm
Depth (if closed): 16 cm (from the outside, both sides are 8 cm deep)
Thursday, 20.05.2010
Today the Loop gallery was at the Tartu Art School along with an exhibition of Laura’s students from the Estonian Academy of Arts. I bumped into Leila Talunik from the sculpture department who helped me locate it. We found the gallery in a room in the Academy’s new building, in the middle of a drawing class. The best work in the exhibition, according to Laura, was a globe made of snot. There was also some kind of a folder with the artists’ details. Black and white, intentionally lo-fi, unconvincing. Now I understand why Peeter made a point about quality. Just because the gallery is miniature, it doesn’t mean we should be cheap.
Monday, 19.07.2010
Loop is going to the Czech Republic next week, then Võru. Then here.
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Laura sent me a letter stating that the gallery is always given to the next exhibition as is, and that everyone can use or cover the traces of the previous exhibitions as they wish – I suspect she already knew the sorry state of the room.
It seems like someone has painted the Loop in gouache. Peeter sighed deeply at the sight and wished me all the best.
Fortunately, there is an atelier in the cellar that I can use. I’ll take a fan heater and start working.
Wednesday, 25.08.2010
There’s a record-breaking heat wave outside and I’m working in a closed cellar with a fan heater. Tried to open the window, which turned out to be a bad idea, as the window frames are completely rotten. Even the hinges are corroded. The whole window nearly fell out when I tried to shut it again.
The Loop’s window frames are equally problematic: they are made of plastic, not wood; I already damaged one of them with the heat and a palette knife. The screws in the hinges and locks are broken and need to be replaced; one of them just snapped. Can’t imagine where to get such tiny screws.
Thursday, 26.08.2010
Rauno Thomas Moss stopped by to take a look at the Loop today. I showed him the improvements I had made so far. He encouraged me to pull the facade off from the side walls, which would make the removal of paint and polishing much easier. We had a long discussion about how to prepare the exhibition space. Peeter wanted to cover some of the windows for more surface, but Rauno insisted that the works should be small enough to fit onto the existing walls. I brought out the possibility of changing the entire façade into a new, windowless one. We also discussed how to address the history of the Loop. Perhaps we should preserve some of the original murals in the façade. Not to destroy the Loop, but to show its past transformations. That said, I completely understand Peeter’s worries about the lack of usable surface. Continued removing paint for a couple of hours, then home to write some articles for the Artishok biennale. At the current rate, the renovation of the Loop is going to take at least four days.
Friday, 27.08.2010
Managed to get the whole Duul team – Peeter Krossmann, Rauno Thomas Moss, Mihkel Ilus and Nadežda Tšernobai – in the cellar today to plan our next moves. Peeter is still sceptical about making tiny works. He pointed out that
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small works take as much effort as bigger ones. Still, it was agreed that the windows remain open. And Mihkel is about to go to Tallinn and is anxious about the work conditions there. To be honest, I can’t understand what kind of special conditions one needs to paint a 3x3 cm piece. Nadia promised to make an altar inside the dollhouse that opens when someone opens the Loop door. We drank wine in the chancellery afterwards. Moss made some sketches that seemed to be perfectly suited for the exhibition. I commissioned a still-life that will feature a pheasant.
Working with the Artishok biennale, which means a pause in the Loop project for at least two weeks.
Wednesday, 22.09.2010
Tried to resume working on the Loop again. Nadia already asked about it, and we also need to push Peeter and Rauno. As the Painters’ Association exhibition is now open, we don’t have a pretext for dawdling anymore.
The weird thing is, I can't find the cellar keys. They were on my table the entire time. I can't fathom why anyone would want to steal them. Hopefully the administrator has back-up keys, I'll ask tomorrow.
Thursday, 23.09.2010
As it turned out, the keys were where they were supposed to be: in the drawer. I had forgotten which drawer. A telling sign of my abandonment of the Loop project; it's been gathering dust for the last month. I shudder at the thought of Laura calling and asking about progress.
Tuesday, 05.10.2010
Nadia has already made a bunch of little watercolour paintings. She is incredibly productive. Peeter has got a watercolour, an India ink drawing, and loads of sketches. Rauno has finished works for his personal exhibition in Tallinn; he promised to start painting tonight. Called Mihkel Ilus, who promised some paintings by Friday.
We talked about the opening date, which clearly cannot be earlier than next week. I tried to push it to Oct 14th, because on the 15th I am going to be busy with transportation for an Art House exhibition.
in Tartu art life. Kiwa believes that for Tartu’s art to become good, it needs to appeal to the outside world, not only to the local audience. So this exhibition must be as good as it gets.
Friday, 7.10.2010
Brought the Loop home today. It fit perfectly in the basket I had installed on my bike. Again – had there been more time, it would’ve been posh driving around Tartu county, the Loop on the bicycle, organizing exhibitions in libraries.
Sadly, the Loop can’t have the lights fully installed for its birthday. It needs to be painted, and I am not sure it will dry by Sunday.
Earlier today we spoke about the paintings. Rauno Thomas mentioned something about a portrait of Hitler. We called Mihkel Ilus, but naturally he hasn't completed anything yet. I am not worried though. Is this a sign of unprofessionalism? To be honest, I am hardly a curator. I am really a technician of exhibitions – whether in the museum, Tartu Art House, or the Loop.
create an illusion that things are still slowly proceeding to the right direction.
Tuesday, 12.10.2010
The committee for the Art House exhibition today. Rauno Thomas and Peeter were both members. After the session, Peeter and I hung around. Rauno had promised to write the press release himself, convinced that it would be horrible if someone else wrote it. Regardless, Peeter poured himself a glass of wine and sat down with me to write the press statement. Peeter was very sharp and meticulous. He was aware of the viewpoints that Rauno disliked but were of importance to himself. All in all, we wrote a decent text. Peeter assumed a position of an outsider, and I tried to define the Loop as a space – a historical house rather than a contemporary gallery. We forwarded the text to Rauno for his amendments.
Wednesday, 13.10.2010
After a day’s work at the Art House I swung by the electrics shop to get a few things. The preliminary lighting was ready for the evening. Didn’t know the exact number of pictures and lights that go with them, so I added one just to be sure. No time to lay the parquet; we went for oiling. Bad news is that the oil is not giving any tone – I had hoped it would darken the wood. But what can you do.
Phoned Mihkel. He said he won’t be able to attend the opening, but promised to send his works to Tartu by bus. A logistical nightmare; when will he
of the Art House circulated the press release. In the afternoon Nadia picked up three works by Mihkel Ilus from the bus. He wants us to display two of them. Both the form and subject matter of his works made me speechless. I mean, group exhibitions are bound to be full of diversity, but I can’t possibly imagine how this one is going to be arranged. The pieces of Peeter and Nadia were in beautiful harmony, however. I was also bothered by the large format of Mihkel’s works, a problem that seems absurd considering their 3x3 cm size.
Rauno sent me an SMS in the evening: “Hitler just finished. Decent portrait”. Called him a bit later to chat about tomorrow. He sounded calm but tired: “Hitler is ready, now I’m going to paint sick children.”
Friday, 15.10.2010
Rauno rushed into the chancellery this morning and showed the Hitler and the three kids he had painted from a medical book: a haematoma from a trifling trauma, scabies, and finally a case of chickenpox. The exhibition was saved, all conflicts transcended. We had a full ensemble.
I drove around town in the Art Museum’s bus the whole day, picking up works for the Paul Saar exhibition from various private collections. Finished an hour before the opening.
Upon arriving at the atelier, I found the exhibition arranged and ready, with Peeter and Nadia installing the lights. There wasn’t much left to do, so I sat around idly – ate some cheese rolls Markus had brought, drank Lambrusco (sparkling water, not wine).
At 5.05 the lights were finally installed, so I took the dollhouse down to the foyer.
The exhibition was surprisingly crowded and well-received. I was annoyed by comments about how “it has all been done before”, by which they mean suitcase exhibitions. People are remarkably unable to adjust to anything nonstandard. Month after month I open exhibitions at the Art House galleries, and no one has any problems with the repetition of formats. I did my best to turn the Loop into an architectural object, and I did it well. There were plenty of positive reactions – people approached me saying how spectacular it was, and were throwing around ideas for some new projects. The lighting also came through. Rauno’s paintings attracted the most attention. They are indeed engaging.
And it’s just the beginning. I have three openings coming up next week: a video exhibition by young painters at the Monumental gallery next Wednesday, then Tanja Muravskaja's personal show at Tartu Art Museum on Friday, and finally Paul Saar memorial at the main hall of the Art House on Saturday…
In the spring I took part in the narratology conference organized by Marina Grishakova. After an eight-hour day I was sitting on the windowsill, sipping coffee, when suddenly Pushkin sat down beside me and said: “Marathon