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Eha Komissarov: “Not everything is suitable for the Internet!”


According to Eha Komissarov, art historian, legendary curator and programme manager of the KUMU art museum, creative challenges always spark pleasant curiosity in her. Thus, Eha did not have to think long to accept the offer to take part in the Viru Keskus cultural campaign “We Wear Culture” and to stand in front of a camera in a unique costume.

Eha, who in February this year won a Lifetime Achievement Award, has to have an open mind for her everyday work in the Estonian Art Museum (KUMU) to be able to always offer visitors the most authentic experiences, regardless of the situation. In troubled times, picking mushrooms in the woods, working in the garden as well as taking walks helps Eha to relax. According to Eha, her mind can rest while walking and the imagination starts working then. It helps to find inspiration and come up with new ideas.

 Eha says that her emotional well-being is fuelled also by shopping. Since Eha catches her bus home at the Viru Keskus bus terminal, she often enjoys spending the waiting time to get acquainted with the latest fashion trends at ZARA or to explore the office supplies store. “I like shopping, one always needs a new interesting eraser, for example,” admits Eha.

In a closed world, cooperation partners help to find a pathway to a wider audience

Curator Eha Komissarov and KUMU have been cooperating with Viru Keskus for more than ten years. During this time, exhibitions of contemporary art and the music festival  Kumu Night have been supported. Re-enactment photographs were also used to make the paintings of  Ants Laikmaa come to life, which later culminated in an exhibition in the premises of Viru Keskus and KUMU.

According to Eha, during the COVID-19 crisis, their support partners have been a great help, because together they reach more people, even those people, who would not have even thought about coming to KUMU art halls otherwise. “The art museum is like a closed world, we enormously benefit from other experiences and the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a wider audience,” she describes.

Art is best experienced on site

According to Eha, the restrictions caused by the spread of the coronavirus severely disrupted KUMU’s activities. Exhibitions that had been planned a year and a half in advance had to be postponed with a heavy heart or moved to a virtual exhibition hall. Digital solutions helped the museum to adapt to the new regulations, but they cannot always sufficiently substitute for live contact. “Not everything is suitable for the Internet! Contemporary art, perhaps, but the classical format will die. The virtual presentation is too dull for it,” says KUMU curator Eha.

According to Eha, KUMU focuses hugely on creating the best space solutions for each exhibition – the emphasis is on design, colours and light. The virtual environment is a welcome alternative, but according to Eha, can impose some limitations. Eha sees vaccination as the most effective solution for people to continue to have full cultural experiences. “Because of my age, I was seriously afraid of getting the coronavirus. Now that I have been vaccinated, I feel a lot more at peace,” she admits.

For the list and availability of the sets of clothes our “Culture Wearers” wore, keep an eye on our Instagram.

Photos: Riina Varol

Styling and concept: Liisi Eesmaa

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