The Opening Response: Eike Eplik

The Opening Response titles a special series of interviews with artists, curators, writers, composers, mediators, and space-makers around the world. Dialoguing within and around the thematics which have rapidly emerged as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we offer within this frame a differentiated, honest, and beautiful bid at understanding. Weekly, distinct doors are opened into the lives of the contributors; into their experiences dawning on pleasure, productivity, metaphysics, and paradigmatic shifts. Hopefully, these conversations can act as way-posts and lead to furthered empathy, unison, and co-creation. The Opening Response meets the need for weaving the autonomy of a web of conscious communications in times of extreme perplexity.

Eike Eplik (1982) has a master’s degree from the Department of Sculpture of the Estonian Academy of Arts (2010). She has also studied in the Pallas University of Applied Sciences and the Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland. She worked as an assistant to artists in Finland and in Germany and is currently teaching in the Tartu Children’s Art School and the Pallas University of Applied Sciences, Tartu. In 2006, Eplik received the Eduar Wiiralt grant for young artists; in 2012, the production grant of the contemporary art festival ART IST KUKU NU UT; in 2015, she was nominated for the Sadolin Art Award; and in 2018, she was recognised with the Ado Vabbe Art Award. Her latest personal exhibitions were Beauty Salon in the monumental gallery of the Tartu Art House (2017) and Natural in the Hobusepea Gallery in Tallinn (2018). In 2021, Eike Eplik will hold a personal exhibition in the Tartu Art Museum that also has her works in their collections.


Josseline Black – In this phase of forced isolation, how are you articulating your response in a public discourse? What is your role in this larger conversation?

Eike Eplik – I think my role is to observe and stay calm, continue with my work.

In our own way we all start to mirror the situation around us either we want it or not. And people will notice these topics everywhere from now on, even if you don´t want it because the attention is on that.

JB – Has your artistic practice changed through isolation?

EE – In some parts, yes, but studio life remains the same as it was before. Mostly I’m working alone in my studio anyway, sometimes meet someone to discuss some art project or exhibition, and these things are possible to do via the internet as well. I’m not an artist who is constantly in residency somewhere, so I didn’t have to cancel any travelling plans. Documentation of my work has always been important to me, and even more now. Making exhibitions more visible on the web is the main goal. And I think it’s something that will remain a common practice from now on.

JB – How has your practical capacity to produce work been affected by the pandemic?

EE – Not so much. I think the reason is that when the pandemic started, I was just finishing works for two exhibitions.

Two days before the opening of my solo exhibition in Kogo gallery, the government declared an emergency situation and – among other measures – decided to close all museums and galleries. So, the exhibition was there, ready, but closed for visitors for two months, waiting for its chance.

For the preparation of another exhibition, I was working together with sound artists. This event was cancelled for now and hopefully will take place at the beginning of next year.

I was, however, planning to have a small break from producing works anyway. And now I have been busy with preparations for future exhibitions, sketching and applying for financing to produce new works. At the beginning of May, I got myself a new studio, so I’ve been moving my stuff and getting used to the new environment.

If the economy goes down, then there may be problems with producing future exhibitions. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that.

When compared to some other countries, we in Estonia have been relatively lucky so far with the virus.

Quarantine rules were applied at the right time, people stayed home and followed the rules quite well. For now, we still have the 2+2 rule (max 2 people together, distance 2 meters) and some of the other regulations, but art galleries and shops are open already from the 11th of May and from the first day of June most of the other public places will be open.

JB – What is your approach to collaboration at the moment?

EE – It is now possible here to meet people again, with some caution of course. I have one collaboration project in Germany that was almost postponed. With some changes that we made now hopefully it will still take place next spring as originally planned. It takes a lot of emailing and online calling, but everything is possible.

JB – How would you define the present moment, metaphysically/literally/symbolically?

EE – It’s the moment to take time off and think things over. Now is the time to start making long term plans for the sake of the planet, environment and people.  It is also the time to understand that life is not only about winning and taking, but also about losing and giving. We should also not act as the rulers of the planet but as a part of its population. It would be best if it would turn out as an opportunity for a positive restart. But it would mean that people are smart and calm about it. The sad thing is that humankind always wants everything but is never willing to give up anything. So, I’m afraid it will not be a future scenario.

JB – Do you see the potential for renewed support for cultural production in spite of macro and micro-economies which are currently rapidly restructuring?

EE – I’m sure there are opportunities, it takes a bit more time to start to see them.

JB – E.M Cioran writes: “in major perplexities, try to live as history were done with and to react like a monster riddled by serenity”, how do you respond to this proposal?

EE – I think it’s a wise proposal 🙂

JB – How is this time influencing your perception of alterity in general?

EE – I definitely feel now that the changes in our society are made with such a speed that it incites quite scary feelings. This kind of power is certainly being felt everywhere in the world now and in the wrong hands, it can do a lot of harm. It is well seen that it is so easy to plant fear into people, but will this fear pass later or stay around for long?

JB – How is your utilization of technology and virtuality evolving the paradigm within which you produce work?

EE – The “virus situation” hasn’t made any big changes to my work, at least not yet. In my timescale three months is not such a long time and I think I must be a slow type of person. One thing I can mention is that we are making some videos about the exhibition and in general make it more visible in the web than usually. All this is leading the art world to go more global than it is now.

JB – What is your position on the relationship between catastrophe and solidarity?

EE – Catastrophe brings the world together and makes us show more solidarity against each other. We all experience the same thing in different depths, thus although it is a catastrophe it is still a shared thing and hopefully, it will create more empathy between people.

JB – What is your utopia now?

EE – I think it’s the world where people treat nature and all other beings with respect. Where money and efficiency isn’t everything. Society, where there are more creative and individual ways of working and studying and it doesn’t come on someone else’s expense.

Where all people can live in their homelands without fear and hunger. And a world where everyone would appreciate art, of course, would be nice 🙂 It’s a real utopia today.

Josseline Black is a contemporary curator, writer, and researcher. She holds an M.A. in time-based media from the Kunst Universität Linz and a B.A. in Anthropology (specialization Cotsen Institute of Archaeology) from the University of California Los Angeles. She operated for five years as in-house curator of the international artistic residency program at the Atelierhaus Salzamt (Austria) wherein she had the privilege of working closely with a number of brilliant artists. Included in her duties within the institution she allocated and directed the Salzamt hosting of the E.U. CreArt mobility for artists program. As a writer, she has reviewed exhibitions and co-edited texts for Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Portugal, Madre Museum Naples, the Museums Quartier Vienna, MUMOK, Guimarães Gallery, Gallery Michaela Stock. She is regular theoretical contributor to the Contemporary Art Magazine Droste Effect. In addition, she has published with Interartive Malta, OnMaps Tirana, Albania, and L.A.C.E (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). In tandem to her curatorial practice and writing, she has for the past decade used choreography as a research tool inquiring into the ontology of the performing body with a focus on embodied cartographies of public memory and space. She has held research residencies at the East Ugandan Arts Trust, the Centrum Kultury w Lublinie, the University of Arts Tirana Albania, and the Upper Austrian Architectural Forum. It is her privilege to continue developing her approach to curatorship which derives from an anthropological reading of art production and an ethnological dialectic in working with cultural content generated by art makers. Currently, she is developing the methodology which supports the foundation of a performance-based trans-disciplinary platform for a spectral critique on art production.

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