Having discovered the work of the London-based Estonian artist, designer and activist Mare Tralla in 1996, it has been my curatorial privilege ever since to continue to explore, commission, present and champion Mare’s work through a series of residencies, exhibitions, festivals, publications, essays, interviews, features and talks.
Currently, together with Heather Kiernan, I am co-curating a new Peace & Justice (Scotland) commission by Mare which will culminate in a new group exhibition as part of the Peace Cranes project scheduled for summer 2022 at the main exhibition space of The Out of the Blue Drill Hall in central Edinburgh, also home to another Peace Cranes project in autumn 2021 – Code Red: a print installation of 28 photomontages by artist and activist Peter Kennard in response to the statement of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who said that the IPCC report was the ‘code red for humanity’ and that ‘the alarm bells are deafening and the evidence is irrefutable’.
The Peace Cranes group exhibition in summer 2022 will aim to uncover the cultural and ecological legacies of the nuclear disasters of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, Fukushima and the Marshall Islands. The exhibition will feature photography and video installations by over 12 artists and activists, including Mare’s and Peter’s work.
Mare’s new Peace Cranes project commission is inspired by the song Bukhenval’dskii nabat (Alarm Bell of Buchenwald) which in the artist’s own Soviet and post-Soviet background is linked to the anti-fascist Great Patriotic War collective memory yet it was originally written and composed as an anti-nuclear peace song.
Additionally, Mare will revisit her own earlier work Freedom to Speech which includes a direct art action of unravelling the dress designed and knitted by the artist with fabric yarn which bears the words of the Human Rights Act. Staged in front of London’s Houses of Parliament in 2018, this was a symbolic protest to protect human rights and fight patriarchal power, which attempts to deny rights and freedom of speech to everyone.
Please find a selection of my critical writing and publications about Mare’s work below.
Press release Positive Negative – a new commission by Mare Tralla as part of the #LetsEndIt exhibition at Threshold artspace, December 2017 READ MORE Iliyana Nedkova, co-curator of #LetsEndIt and creative director for contemporary art for Horsecross Arts, the cultural organisation behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre said: “As part of #LetsEndIt exhibition, the outside screen on Perth Theatre’s new facade will host an artist’s film for the first time. This is part of our commissioning and museum acquisition programme which we have pioneered and managed since 2005 across the 30 screens and as many gallery walls of the Threshold artspace. “The new artwork Positive Negative (2017) will display striking portraits of activists from ACT UP London and STOP AIDS. You will also see a self-portrait of the Estonian British artist and activist Mare Tralla who initiated the artwork. Tralla is an active member of these diverse group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the HIV pandemic. “I feel very privileged to have curated Tralla’s works and exhibitions since 1996 including her highly acclaimed ‘artivism’ masterclass for creative industries students at Perth College, University of Highlands and Islands last year. I am also so proud that Tralla felt that the Perth College students and the cultural professionals at Horsecross Arts should be invited to participate in Positive Negative alongside the activists. This will be the first opportunity to see this latest addition to our unique collection of contemporary art at #LetsEndIt exhibition preview.”
SELECTED CRITICAL WRITING
Public Talk Zoom in on Plein Air Creativity. Iliyana Nedkova in conversation with artists, including Mare Tralla about experiences of pleinairism and the town twinning movement, of portable easels and activism. Held on 15 April 2021 as part of Friends of Pskov monthly ZOOM IN ON… blethers held March-August 2021. Watch the edited recording by clicking on the image above and read my curatorial dispatch published in Freinds of Pskov: Art READ
Journal Mare Tralla: Self-Irony, Parody and the Absurd. Iliyana Nedkova in conversation with Mare Tralla in n.paradoxa international feminist art journal Volume 36: Humor, pp.42-49. Editor Katy Deepwell. Published by KT Press, London, July 2015 DOWNLOAD
Festival Guide Protected by Mare Tralla in Edinburgh Art Festival Guide, p. 6. Published by Edinburgh Art Festival, July 2008 READ
Book Felt Boots by Mare Tralla in Crossing Over. Editors Iliyana Nedkova and Maria Troy. ISBN: 1881390284 9781881390282. Issued on the occasion of Crossing Over 5 interntational artists' residencies and festival held at Wexner Center for the Arts,Columbus, Ohio, October 2000. Published by Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, 2001
CD-ROM Young (Media) Pioneers Mare Trallaand Iliyana Nedkova in VR: Read as part of Virtual Revolutions: Act and Read, 1998-2000. Edited by Iliyana Nedkova, Mare Tralla, Catherine Williams and Centre for Art International Research Editorial Board. ISBN: 0952316102 9780952316107. Commissioned by FACT, Liverpool. Published by Audio-Vidsual Research Editions, 2000
Journal Cybertides of Feminisms. Mare Tralla in Conversation with Iliyana Nedkova in Next Cyberfeminist International. Editor Cornelia Sollfrank. Published by Old Boys Network, Hamburg, September 1999 DOWNLOAD