Maarten Vanden Eynde

When you say we Belong to the Light we Belong to the Thunder is one of the three exhibitions that are part of Tallinn Photomonth, the largest contemporary art biennial in Estonia.

NASA image of the interior design of an O’Neill cylinder, a space settlement design from 1976.

Tallinn Photomonth was initiated in 2011 by the non-profit Fotokunstnike Ühendus MTÜ (Foku). The year 2019 marks the biennial’s fifth occurrence. Photomonth brings new international exhibitions and events to Estonian audiences and encourages them to critically view the visual culture of today. The aim of Photomonth is to facilitate networking between local artists and international curators and critics, while also developing the contemporary art market in Estonia.

The starting point for this exhibition is the question how psychological reactions to climate chaos are influencing real life politics. The display proposes an imaginary study of the notions of ‘owning’ and ‘belonging’ in relation to soil.

While recent decades were marked by the drive to disconnect from physical locations, ideas of place and belonging seem to have seen something of a revival, both in a renewed care for the planet but also in increasingly harsh migration policies. The inquiry focuses on how images regarding the units that we belong to – the world, the nation state, the family – have implications for our level of care.

The title is borrowed from the lyrics of the 1985 pop song We Belong by Pat Benatar. Months after We Belong towered in pop charts in the West, Mikhail Gorbachev announced Perestroika, which made it possible for Estonians to openly protest their belonging to the Soviet Union, and a large ecological movement became the catalyst for Estonian independence. Embedded in local and global research, the exhibition studies the intruding pull of nationalism in relation to ecological concerns.

'Recent times are marked by the growing realisation that the human species, generally portrayed as earth’s superior beings, are failing to protect the livelihood of the planet and are even playing an active role in destroying it. Do we need to re-evaluate the intellectual capacities of humans or rather call it an unforeseen but uncontrollable failure in a system that was built with good intentions? Hannah Arendt wrote in The Human Condition in 1958 that we suffer from earth alienation because our relationship with earth is increasingly mediated through technology. She claims that the development of space and air travel led to a distant perspective since we no longer feel tied to the confines of the earth. Against this background the exhibition goes deeper into two different perspectives through which we can relate to the land, namely ‘owning’ and ‘belonging’, and shows projections of desire and responsibility in real life and in visual culture'. - Heidi Ballet