Kai Kaljo

Article Bio Works Merits Projects Images www
crossroads:
ambivalence, communication, contrast, love, values
genre(subgenre):
Design and Crafts (glass)
Film (short film)
Visual Arts (installation art, mural painting, painting, text, video art)
region:
America, North, Europe, Baltic
country/territory:
United States of America, Estonia
city:
Tallinn
created on:
May 14, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since September 1, 2004. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
information provided by:
Kai Kaljo
Kai Kaljo

Article

The role of the artist as poet

Kai Kaljo is a highly regarded Estonian artist best known for her video work. She was born in 1959 and lives in Tallinn. Her first work ´A Loser´ (1997) brought international recognition. She has made many more short films and exhibits around the world in video festivals, group and solo exhibitions which incorporate painting, installation, text and video. Kaljo´s work has been described as video poetry in which she pursues themes of ambivalence, love, communication, contrast and values.
Kai Kaljo is a well-known and multi-talented Estonian artist. She is best recognised for her video work which has been widely exhibited in Europe and beyond since 1997. Born in Tallinn, she studied classical music at a specialist secondary school and then worked in youth theatre as a stage designer. She studied painting at Tallinn Art University from 1983-90 and continued with her postgraduate education at the Swedish Royal Academy of Arts in 1992.

In her early years as an artist she mainly worked in stained glass and as a mural painter before making her first installation in 1994. Kai states, ´this was a kind of turning point in my career, I believe, because I realised for the first time that I don´t have to choose, I can use everything I´ve got.´

Kai Kaljo´s first video work was made when she was asked to participate in a show called ´Funny versus Bizarre´ in Vilnius in 1997. She says, ´I just couldn´t imagine anything more bizarre than my own life at that moment and decided to make a video called ´A Loser´ and which is still my most popular work.´ From that point, her career as a video artist began. She received an ArtsLink Fellowship Grant to go and work at the Hallwalls Center for Contemporary Arts in Buffalo, New York State and, as she admits, ´that´s where I actually started to learn how to use the camera and how to edit´.

Kaljo´s work has been exhibited in many video festivals including Videopositive in Liverpool (2000), Central Station at Milch in London (2000), Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival, NY (2000), World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam (1998,1999, 2000, 2001 and a special programme of her work in 2003), Videonale 9 in Bonn, Germany (2001), Instant Video, Manosque, France (2001). At her solo show entitled ´Heavenly´ at Tallinn Art Hall Gallery in 2001 she exhibited paintings, photographs and videos. Other solo exhibitions include ´Halfway to Venice´ at HDLU Gallery, Zagreb in 2003 and ´What do You Read, my Lord?´ (with Ly Lestberg) at Nuova Icona Gallery in Venice in 2001.

Kai Kaljo has made several of her videos on residencies abroad. ´One Way to See America´ (1998) was made in Buffalo, NY inspired by the restriction signs she noticed in the environment. ´Love Letter to Myself´ (1999) was created in the luxurious solitude of Suomenlinna in Finland at the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Arts and ´There is a God?´ was made during a short residency at Delfina Studios in London in 2000.

Critic Anders Harm in the catalogue for Open Gallery 2001 at the Foundation-Centre for Contemporary Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia, wrote, ´Kai Kaljo´s work seems to be centred and united by language in its various manifestations. When we look for parallels in literary terminology, it seems that it comes close to poetry. Kaljo´s video work could be understood as a kind of poetry - video poetry.´ Harm describes the international recognition she received with the video ´A Loser´ (1997). ´The grotesque picture she creates of the artist´s status in society is used as a metaphor to describe an East European artist. In this video which she manipulates with the techniques of comedy serial, Kaljo cites her personal data: name, age, weight, address, marital status, place of work, salary, etc., each of them accompanied by background laughter. Kaljo´s CV ends with the statement that makes the point. "I believe the most important thing about being an artist is freedom"´. Harm concludes, ´While in the 1990s, 1970s poets turned to video in an effort to seek a form of presentation for their poems, the video artist Kaljo seems to have turned to poetry.´

Kaljo has received significant awards and scholarships, including in 2002 an ArtsLink Independent Projects Grant at the University of California, San Diego Centre for Computing and the Arts. She was shortlisted for the Visiting Arts/Spike Island International Fellowship 2002 on the nomination of Jaan Toomik, video artist and Professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts.

Her work is held in collections of the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Tartu Art Museum, Estonia and the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany.
Author: Judith Staines

Bio

Kai Kaljo is a leading Estonian artist who has worked primarily in video since 1997. Born in 1959 in Tallinn, she studied classical music at a specialist secondary school and worked as a stage designer in youth theatre before going to Tallinn Art University to study painting. After graduating in 1990, she attended the Swedish Royal Academy of Arts for postgraduate studies in 1992. Her work has been exhibited widely, particularly in Europe at many video festivals. She has been awarded an ArtsLink Fellowship Grant and an Independent Projects Grant for residencies in the USA and several other international prizes and residencies.

Works

COLLECTIONS

Object,
2003
Work in collections: Moderna Museet, Stockholm Tartu Art Museum, Estonia Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany

SOLO EXHIBITIONS (Selected)

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
2003 ´Greetings From La Jolla´, Knollgalerie, Vienna, Austria 2003 ´A Loser´, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany 2003 ´Halfway to Venice´, HDLU Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia 2001 ´Heavenly´, Tallinn Art Hall Gallery 2001 Videos by Kai Kaljo, SCCA Gallery, Bratislava 2001 ´What do You Read, my Lord?´ (with Ly Lestberg), Nuova Icona Gallery, Venice 1999 Kai Kaljo, Likovni Salon, Celje, Slovenia

GROUP EXHIBITIONS (Selected)

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
2004 Sometime (film & video works), Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London 2003 World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam (special programme of Kai Kaljo´s works). Also showed work at WWVF in 2001, 2000, 1999 & 1998 2003 Salzburger Kunstverein, Austria 2003 ´21 Minutes.Art´, Moscow 7th International Art Fair 2002 ´Breath´, Ludwigsmuseum, Budapest 2002 ´Transvisit´, Masnedo Fort, Denmark 2002 ´Oh, it´s a Curator!´, Rotor Association for Contemporary Art, Graz 2002 ´Different/Diverse´, Teatro della Fondamente Nuovi, Venice; Grunt, Vestern Front Galeries, Vancouver 2001 Instant Video, Manosque, France 2001 Black Cube, Cinema de Balie, Amsterdam 2000 Central Station, Milch, London 2000 Video N.E.WS, Gotland, Sweden

Miraaz / Mirage

Film / TV,
2002
video work 1 min.

Greetings from La Jolla

Film / TV,
2002
video work 3 min.

Kai Kaljo

Film / TV,
2002
video work 1 min.

Siin / Here

Film / TV,
2001
video work 3 min.

Domestic Violence

Film / TV,
2001
Video work 15 min.

The veil of St Veronica

Film / TV,
2001
video work 30 sec.

There is a God?

Film / TV,
2000
video work 1 min.

Pathetique

Film / TV,
1999
video work 3 min.

Love letter to myself

Film / TV,
1999
video work 4 min.

Languages

Film / TV,
1999
Video work 4 min.

One Way to See America

Film / TV,
1998
video work 3 min.

Loser

Film / TV,
1997
Video work, 1.24min

And nevertheless the time will come...

Film / TV,
1997
´And nevertheless the time will come when I´ll forget even my name and cast no shadow to the wall´ Video work. 1 min

Merits

2002 ArtsLink Independent Projects Grant, University of California San Diego Centre for Computing and the Arts, USA.
2000 Prize from Estonian Cultural Endowment
2000 Delfina Studios, London
1998 ArtsLink Fellowship Grant, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Centre, Buffalo, NY
1997 VideoMedeja Prize
1997 Interstanding 2-prize
1996 Loviisa Guest Studio, Finland

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Spike Island International Fellowship 2002

(30 October 01 - 30 July 02)

Www

World Wide Video Festival

images
Mirage
Greetings from La Jolla
AD