Elin Már Øyen Vister in collaboration with guests Ene Lukka, Evelin Reimand and Kadi Uibo
“How can we know who we are if we don’t know who we were?… History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier.” – Stephen Fry
How do we know and relate to land?
When you are standing here, with your feet on the grass in Kalamaja park, what is the story of the land below and around you?
Questions about the need of reconciliation and healing arise in a land where many elders grew silent after precarious wartime /postwar displacements. What is not spoken of? Along the way someone or something important can be forgotten if it is not given attention to and cared for. What if those who cared are wounded or dead? In the case of war traumas, they can be so hard to speak of that they stay buried inside the hearts of those who experienced it. It takes several generations for a community´s wounds to heal, (or even centuries or millennia, if the traumas people carry are not treated) and in our daily entanglements with each others lives (human and nonhuman bodies) our traumas continue to affect one another.
Kalamaja park is not just a park but in fact Tallinn’s oldest graveyard. The first sources mentioning Kalamaja cemetery goes back to 1561. It was the principal burial ground of the ethnic Swedish and Estonians living in or around Tallinn. In 1964 the cemetery was entirely flattened under the order of Soviet authorities. Gravestones were used to build walls along the ports and sidewalks in other parts of the city and no trace of the cemetery was left standing. Soviet forces removed all traces of the past in a coordinated effort, inhabitants of Tallinn were also forced to destroy two further 18th century cemeteries in the city, in the suburbs of Kopli and Mõigu, which belonged to the communities of ethnic Estonian and Baltic German. The cemetery was planned to be redesigned as a cultural garden for the Volta factory. In 1964 the cemetery was officially closed, and instead reopened as a public park. In 2009 the park, which had become worn down, was restored by the city of Tallin.
Who were the people buried here? Are their bones still here in the ground?
Who loved them?
What was lost when the cemetery was “erased”?
Has the creation of a park been able to reconcile “the loss of a cemetery”?
Can a process of reconciliation and healing take place, when we do not know what is beneath our feet?
Kalamaja sonic walk wishes to give attention to the story of the land of Kalamaja cemetery, and to pay respect to the souls of those bodies who were buried here and the lives of their loved ones. The trees remember them well. We will collectively listen to and commemorate the sonic walk participants own ancestors and loved ones, We will share stories and offer some warming tea and food; and tune into Souls’ time, an important time in the Estonian folk calender. Darker times invigorate the imagination and stimulate creativity; creating greater opportunities to sense contact with the spirit world. The souls of deceased ancestors were commemorated and also expected to visit the Earth during Souls’ time. In past times, people would leave offerings of food out for the souls. Traditionally, silence was required and working at home at night was prohibited during the time of souls.
The sonic walk is part of the exhibition ‘Let the field of your attention…. soften and spread out’ part of the main programme of Tallinn Photomonth taking place in Kai Art Center until December 1 and has been organized with the help of Kaisa Maasik, curatorial assistant of Tallinn Photomonth.
Please sign up here.
Practical note: Meeting point 10 minutes before the workshop at Kai Art Center. Please turn off your phones and wear comfortable warm clothes for outdoors. Bring your umbrella and/or raincoat in case of rainy weather.
The workshop takes place in turns in English and Estonian.
ELIN MÁR ØYEN VISTER (b. 1976, Oslo, Norway) is an artist, composer, and forager based in Røst, Norway. With a broad background in audio and music (as DJ and producer, and in field recordings and radio), they bring an interdisciplinary approach and experience of a multitude of practices to their expression. Már is occupied with listening as an artistic practice and as a way to compose, sense, and experience the world, much inspired by Pauline Oliveros’s Deep Listening philosophy. Már’s work strives to break with Western patriarchal hegemonic narratives that have placed the human being in the centre and instead focuses on the landscape’s innate stories and knowledge, influenced by indigenous methodologies and indebted to and informed by queer, multicultural, and pluriversal understandings of life and the cosmos. Már’s ongoing long term projects include Soundscape Røst and Deconstructing Norwegian-ness. They corun Røst Artist in Residence, an artistrun workshop and AIR project, at Skomvær Fyr in Røst.