Dimitry Tetin: Unfinished notes on exploring Tartu’s spaces for remembering
30. July 2018
Part of the work created during my residency at Studio Tartuensis involved constructing glyphs that merge characteristics of Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. I was hoping to create something that resists interpretation—self-containing loops—elements annotating each other from within a closed system. Ultimately, the work was a way for me to think through the question of “How do we choose what to remember?” and it’s ever-present companion: “Who chooses what we remember as a community?”
I wanted to mention some of the places in Tartu that were meaningful to me during the month I spent working at Studio Tartuensis. My work in Tartu followed the logic of annotations: concentric circles radiating outward (with the Gutenberg press, most likely, at the epicenter) defining and inscribing the interior. The following images represent attempts to marked absences, delete, add and rewrite the layers of annotations that make up the image of Tartu as I saw it. They are not meant to be iconic representations of the city but rather images as train of thought and speculation about how the city remembers.
On a lighter note… Consider renting a bicycle from Ilmar Part who runs a DIY bicycle factory TERT. It is a great deal and he is great to talk to about Tartu’s efforts to encourage more of it’s residents to drive less. The fallafel wrap from Gaberrito’s, just up the hill from the artists’ apartments on Lutsu, is really delicious. Come for the fallafel, but stay for the giant and gentle Rottweiler puppy who hangs out there. Sincere thank you to my friends and colleagues at the Studio Tartuensis and to the previous residents whose work and writing inspired and informed my own residency.
Images above: Marker for a burial site behind Toome Hill (Karl Ernst von Baeri and Valiikravi streets). A brick structure from early 19th century, designed by Johann Wilhelm Krause, it marks the spot of a mass entombment of remains dating from 13th–18th centuries. The inscription on the copper plates starts: “Here lie bones of various people”. It is translated on four sides into Estonian, Latin, German and Russian.
Kastani Street. A building close to the Aparaat Complex and Studio Tartuensis does not attempt to disguise its original stone foundation and lower levels. The side facing the alley it shares with the adjacent wood building bares palimpsests of other structures.
Mural of how Tartu Ülikool used to be (Ülikooli and Lossi streets). A tourist taking a photograph of another palimpsest-rich side of the building displaying an artist’s imagining of what Ülikooli Street and Tartu Ülikool looked like in 19th century.
Rüütli Street. The medieval buildings of the street were destroyed in the Great Northern War and in the fire of 1775. The crooked character of the street disappeared and was replaced by the order of straight lines. The red bricks mark the way the buildings faced the street prior to their destruction.
Two images above: World War II Memorial (Raadi Park). Another memorial translated into four languages. This time it is Estonian, English, German and Russian. Part of the text reads: “The number of people who fell in the years 1941–1944 in Tartu and its surroundings or who were murdered by the Soviet or German state security agencies is unknown. We do not know the locations of all the graves.” The marker is positioned somewhat awkwardly right next to a small parking lot. However, its position is significant as it is meant to fill in some of the gaps in language of the nearby memorial erected during the Soviet occupation to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Red Army.