Jonna Kina’s new installation Four Sculptures in Fifteen Pieces in Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Jonna Kina’s new installation Four Sculptures in Fifteen Pieces (2022) is on view in Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, until October 2 2022. Four Sculptures in Fifteen Pieces is commissioned by Lappeenranta Art Museum in collaboration with Art Museum of Estonia. Kina’s exhibition in the project space is curated by Tiiu Saadoja.

Jonna Kina (1984) is a multidisciplinary Finnish artist. The story of the Four Sculptures in Fifteen Pieces film dates back to 2019. At that time, the artist became interested in the sculptures by Amandus Adamson (1855–1929) and August Weizenberg (1837–1921) in the Art Museum of Estonia collection that were damaged when Tallinn was bombed during World War II in March of 1944. As the film was being completed, present-day layers were unexpectedly added to the historical perspective.

On 9 and 10 March 1944, the Soviet Air Force attacked Tallinn. The carpet bombing injured and killed civilians and entire parts of the city were destroyed due to the ensuing destruction and fires. Many people were left homeless. Amongst many other structures, the temporary building of the Art Museum of Estonia was also burned down. Most of the works of art had already been evacuated from the museum to manor houses, rural school buildings and other safer places outside the centre of Tallinn. The more difficult-to-move works, such as large-scale paintings and sculptures, were hidden in the basement of the museum, but this did not protect them from the damage caused by the fire.

In 1946, the works of art were excavated from the rubble of the museum building. The damaged sculptures were inventoried and were initially restored by the sculptor and painter Henrik Olvi (1894–1972) and the sculptor Herman Halliste (1900–1973). However, some of the works had been irretrievably shattered or partially burned into sand-like rubble. These included Adamson’s Watching a Sunrise and Last Sigh of a Ship and Weizenberg’s Christ and Figure of a Woman: Mildness, which we see in Jonna Kina’s film.

Kina’s film is like an adhesive that binds the pieces of the sculptures together again, although as different compositions, thus providing an opportunity to re-exhibit them. The artist did not assign hierarchical importance to the fragments of the works, i.e. the slow movement of the camera makes the pieces of all four works seem equally important, from a small piece of marble to a half-torso. In the film, the artist’s position is clear, showing respect for the conservators and their work, which is done with dedication and care.

Kina deals with creation and destruction, and, using the fragments of war-damaged sculptures, draws attention to the important role that museums play as custodians of artistic heritage. Museums are not only exhibitors of works of art, but also their caretakers. There are also components that are not visible in the exhibition space, i.e. the vast collections, stories and all the people that comprise the museum.”

Jonna Kina: Four Sculptures in Fifteen Pieces, April 1 – October 2 2022, Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia

More information: Kumu Art Museum