Jaanus Samma’s solo exhibition “Divider” at Temnikova & Kasela Gallery deals with the marginal, peripheral areas in the urban environment, aiming its focus at public restrooms. These places where the boundary between public and personal can easily fade have traditionally been defined by gender roles. The artist views men’s toilets as exclusively masculine environments that have in different cultural and historical time-spaces created ways for many forms of communication.
In his new works, Samma creates a total installation in which rich Historicist forms alternate with robust everyday items, representing an ambivalent game of meanings. The works shown at the exhibition deconstruct the public restroom using different media, offering the viewer a collection of urinals, toilet bowls, toilet roll holders and toilet pulls. One of the basic elements of this spatial analysis is the urinal divider, which gives the exhibition its name. As a symbol, it expresses the connecting function of the public toilet that acts like a social stage – a place where different personalities and shared experiences come together, where public and intimate space meet.
A public toilet is a place like any other with its own rules of use. Samma pays attention to the everyday environment of the restroom and its related social norms, people’s movements and actions. The goal of the exhibition is not to create pathos or pass judgment but to expand the area of what is considered the everyday sphere. It is a close-up view of everyday places and items that, when talked about, broaden our perspective. As in his earlier work, Samma continues to play the role of the historian dedicated to the study of non-places and points out the stories that have often been overlooked.
Jaanus Samma (1982) lives and works in Tallinn, Estonia. Samma studied printmaking at the Fine Art department of Estonian Academy of the Arts, acquiring a BA in 2005. He later attended École Supérieure Estienne des Arts et Industries Graphiques and University Paris 8 Saint-Denis, France; returning to the Estonian Academy of the Arts to complete his MA in fine arts in 2009.
Selection of Samma's upcoming and recent solo exhibitions include: upcoming solo exhibition curated by Eugenio Viola, Nomas Foundation, Rome (2017–2018); upcoming duo exhibition together with Mare Vint, curated by Anu Allas, Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn (2017–2018); "Divider", Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Tallinn (2017); “Three Works at a Canteen”, ex-canteen Kalibr factory, Minsk (2016); “Not Suitable For Work. A Chairman’s Tale”, curated by Eugenio Viola, Museum of Occupations, Tallinn (2016); "NSFW. A Chairman’s Tale", curated by Eugenio Viola, Estonian pavillion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); “Unrest", Gotlands Konstmuseum, Gotland (2015); "The Hair Sucks Sweater Shop", Tallinn Art Hall Gallery, Tallinn (2014); and "Chairman. The Opera", Kunstraum B, Kiel (2013).