On October 15th the international Kai Residency was launched. The opening event was hosted by Kai Residency’s curator Kari Conte from New York with a roundtable with Juha Huuskonen, the director of HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme in Helsinki; Juste Jonutyte, a member of the council of Rupert Residency in Vilnius and Marge Monko, artist and Professor in the Department of Photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts. In addition, Kai’s first resident, Felipe de Ávila Franco from Brazil presented his practice.


Kai Residency is currently the only residency in Tallinn focused on research and exploration of the art field. The residency creates a structure for in-depth work within the Estonian art field and is primarily intended for initiating international cooperation projects involving Estonian artists and organizations. The residency welcomes curators and writers, as well as research-oriented artists. The Kai Residency aims to support innovative practices, develop global networks, and engage the local art community in Estonia.


According to the residency’s curator Kari Conte, “the Kai Residency is an exciting and vital new initiative that will bring 15 artists and curators from around the world to Tallinn. From places as far-flung as Lagos, Chongqing and Los Angeles, the residents will be active participants in the life of Kai Art Center and will bring new ideas to Tallinn, and reciprocally, they will bring something to their own cities and projects from the Estonian context.”


303 applications from 61 different countries were received for the 2019–2020 residency at Kai Art Center. The highest number of applications were submitted by visual art professionals from the United States, Germany and Finland.


During the first season, the Kai Residency will host 15 participants, each of them staying in Estonia for two to four weeks. Six places are specifically allocated for participants from the Nordic and Baltic countries and their invitation to Estonia is supported by the Nordic Culture Point. The first resident, Felipe de Ávila Franco, started working at the center in October, and hereafter the residents will change every month.


The residents for the opening season at Kai Residency have been selected:


Abraham Onoriode Oghobase (Nigeria/Canada), artist
Anastasia Ax (Sweden), artist
belit sağ (Turkey/Netherlands), artist
Ceci Moss (USA), curator
Fawn Krieger (USA), artist
Felipe de Ávila Franco (Brazil/Finland), artist
Felix Kalmenson (Russia/Georgia), artist
Flóra Gadó (Hungary), curator
Frida Sandström (Sweden), critic
Maija Kurševa (Latvia), curator
Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė (Lithuania), artist
Saara Hannus (Finland), curator
The Creative Association of Curators TOK (Russia), curator
Udi Edelman (Israel), curator
Yan Xing (USA/China), artist


Full bios of residents are available here.


The winners were selected by an international jury consisting of Kari Conte (ISCP/Kai Art Center), Jenni Nurmenniemi (Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale), Ann Mirjam Vaikla (Narva Art Residency) and Karin Laansoo (Kai Art Center/ECADC).


Kari Conte, the Director of Programs and Exhibitions at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York, is the curator of the 2019–2020 season at Kai Residency and an advisor for the residency’s inauguration.


Roundtable speaker bios:


Juha Huuskonen is an activist, organizer, facilitator and curator based in Helsinki. His interests and areas of expertise include digital culture, art & science collaborations, cultural policy, learning systems and speculative design. He currently works as the Director of HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme.


Juste Jonutytė is a Vilnius-based independent curator and producer. Throughout her career, Jonutytė has worked in curatorial departments of Rupert (Vilnius), Tate Modern (London) and the Jonas Mekas Foundation (New York), amongst others. She was a director of Rupert, a center for art and education in Vilnius, Lithuania between 2013-2019. The focus of Jonutytė’s work at Rupert, in addition to the overseeing of all other programs, has been the formation of Rupert’s Alternative Education platform. In addition to education, Jonutytė has significantly contributed to the establishment and expansion of Rupert’s Residency Program, having hosted almost 200 residents in the six years of the program and more than 150 related events.


Marge Monko lives and works in Tallinn. She has studied photography and visual arts in Tallinn and Vienna. In 2013-2015 she participated in studio program in HISK (Higher Institute for Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium). Monko has participated in residencies at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York; KulturKonakt, Vienna; Para Site, Hong Kong and Videobrasil, São Paulo. Recent exhibitions include a.o. Stones Agains Diamonds, Museum Folkwang and RIBOCA (Riga Biennial of Contemporary Art); Crush, Para Site, Hong Kong and Let It Grow.The Future, Innsbruck International –The Biennial of the Arts.