press release

IBID Projects is pleased to present two recent video works by the Estonian artist Jaan Toomik. Toomik is one of the most prominent contemporary artists from the Baltic States, and for his first solo show in London he is presenting Dancing with Dad and Peeter and Mart. Toomik has a personal engagement with his subject matter, given that one video shows the artist at his father's grave, and the other, a conversation between a painter suffering with ParkinsonÕs disease, whom Toomik knows and has exhibited with.

Dancing with Dad, 2003 begins by depicting what seems at first glance, a rather comical scene of a middle-aged man dancing to a Jimi Hendrix guitar riff. The embarrassment gives way to unnerving realisation that the protagonist is in a graveyard, irreverently dancing in front of a gravestone bearing the same name. The fact of father and son sharing the same name reinforces the direct connection between the artist and the deceased. Toomik's father died when he was a child of 9. Thus, the artist never had the chance of sharing the joy of dancing with his father. Toomik returns years on, and attempts to make a spiritual connection through a shaman-like dance to the music his dad would have been listening to during his time. At one point, in the frenzy, the artist rolls on the ground, beating the earth to the music, as if to wake the old man, but of course fails in his futile action.

Peeter and Mart, 2001-2002 documents the dialogue between two men, one of whom is a painter, who is suffering from the crippling Parkinson's disease, yet still manages to paint. The body of Peeter, in spasms and arches, is in sharp contrast to the considered reflections on the questions asked by the interviewer. Disturbing uncontrollable jolts emanate from a fragile and deteriorating frame that contains a fierce soul. There is a directness of the video that is neither overtly sympathetic or condescending. Instead, we are given the bleak facts yet showing the incredible determination of spirit over the physical.

Jaan Toomik was born in Tartu, in Estonia in 1961; he lives and works in Tallinn. He recently exhibited in Dreams and Conflicts: Dictatorship of the Viewer, Clandestine, Arsenale, 50th Biennale di Venezia, The Paths of Europe, Contemporary Art Museum, Thessaloniki, Greece and The Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy.

The exhibition is generously supported by The Estonian Embassy and Hitachi.


Jaan Toomik: Dancing with Dad