Estonia Patrons Circle

Marge Monko‘Ten Past Ten’, 2015

Outset Estonia supported the production of Ten Past Ten, a new photo installation by Henkel Art Award-winning artist Marge Monko for her major survey exhibition From Explosion to Expanse. Estonian Contemporary Photography 1991–2015 at the Tartu Art Museum, Estonia.

Ten Past Ten is an installation of six lenticular photographs appropriated from magazine ads of wristwatches depicting male and female hands. Because the photographs are folded, they show different details depending on the viewing angle. One side displays the luxurious image of desire, while the other offers an insight into the construction of the image – composition, key elements, etc. The artist has been collecting print ads of watches depicting male and female hands over a period of time. These are carefully composed scenes, indicating various scenarios of romance and desire. The elements displayed in the photos – sleeves of garments, accessories like gloves or fake nails, and the time 10:10 – lend themselves to several narrative interpretations. Is it morning or evening? Is it a marriage or an affair?

This piece is inspired by the conventions at play in the advertisements of watches. For example, in almost all of these ads the watches are set to the identical time of 10 minutes past 10. This is used by most brands for reasons for that are both pragmatic and aesthetic. Pointers placed on 10 and 2 frame the brand logo, which is usually placed on the upper half of the watch. Although this position also alludes to symmetry, there are also other symmetrical compositions such as 20:20, which was very common in the 1920s and 1930s. 10:10 is apparently preferred nowadays though because the hands are pointing upwards, indicative of a smile.

The exhibition From Explosion to Expanse. Estonian Contemporary Photography 1991–2015 in the Tartu Art Museum provides an overview of how photography evolved into the most dominant and diverse medium in contemporary art in Estonia from the 1990s onwards. There are 45 participating artists in the exhibition, treating photography in its wide range of expressions. Photo installations, self-reflexive photography, fashion photography, relational aesthetics in photo, documentary photography, and notions such as memory, feminism, identity, ecology, politics, nation, body, gay sensibility, and post-internet are all in focus at the exhibition. Curated by Anneli Porri, the exhibition celebrates the 20th anniversary of the first Saaremaa Biennial.

MARGE MONKO (b. 1976) lives and works in Tallinn, Estonia, and Ghent, Belgium. She studied photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts (MA 2008) and the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. From 2013 to 2015 she participated in the post-academic studio programme HISK (Higher Institute for Contemporary Art) in Ghent, Belgium. In 2012 Marge received the Henkel Art Award. Her recent exhibitions include, among others: Red Dawn, Laureates 2014 exhibition. HISK, Ghent (2014); Telling Tales, Swiss and Baltic artists, Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn (2014); You, Hop Gallery, Tallinn (2014); How to Wear Red, Mumok, Vienna & Tartu Art Museum (2013); Manifesta 9, Belgium (2012); and Archaeology and the Future of Estonian Art Scenes, Kumu Art Museum (2012).

Outset Estonia has supported two conceptually-related productions of mine. Outset’s support was essential in making them happen. The fact that there were live actors and technical complexities added to the production costs and the risks I had to take on. I was so happy when Outset decided to support my first performance and back me at this crucial time of a completely new approach in my work.

Marge Monko, artist