Exhibition “Nõmmegraphy” at Vaba Lava, Tallinn

Opening reception on Thursday, April 27 at 17:30-19:30
Exhibition is on view till 14 May 2017

SNOW PART, pitched, to the last,
in the updraught, before
for ever unwindowed

to skim flat dreams
fretted ice;

to hew out the word
shadows, to cord them
round the cramp-iron
in the pit.

(Paul Celan)

When I woke up in the morning and opened the curtains in my bedroom, a pure white world unfolded before my eyes.

On the 25th of October 2016, it snowed for the first time this season. I grabbed the small camera from the wooden shelf, opened the window and pressed the shutter button. From that day onwards I decided to record my days living in Nõmme.

I had moved to Tallinn to complete my doctoral thesis on photography using 20th-century French philosophy; my full-fledged artistic activities had been reduced due to temporal constraints. However, I never got tired of looking at the scenery which I saw from the window of a room where I spend most of my time writing papers. By viewing the outside every day from the same window I started to feel not only the changes of the seasons and weather but also recognise slight changes in light. I was perceiving the flow of time by looking at the slow growth of a potted plant, placed at the window sill. It had been a gift from a dear friend of mine.

When I visited this house for the very first time ten years ago, my friend’s family lived in one of the smaller flats in the building. I still remember photographing the light shining on the window of the room where the piano used to stand. Later, after the renovation of the building, two flats were joined into one bigger apartment. It had been one of the houses that had been taken away from their rightful owners during the Soviet occupation. It had been built by my friend’s great grandfather. My friends renovated it and then left to work abroad. I have been renting the house since then.

Despite coming all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun eight thousand kilometres away, here I was usually walking within a range of only a kilometre from the house, listening to the sound of stepping in snow, narrowing my eyes to the winter sunlight, taking a deep breath in the woods. I sometimes stopped and found joy in collecting fragments of images into a small camera. By this “differential” behaviour, I was able to consider such “micro-changes” that appeared/disappeared ephemerally every day and recognise them as something unique, important and beautiful.

I hope that this collection leads to an appreciation of the daily small stories of other people in general, and not only mine. It might seem there are neither big concepts nor strategies in the pictures presented in Nõmmegraphy: I felt more like being a “Sunday photographer”. However, as Jacques Derrida said, “if the single, first and last time of the shot already occupies a heterogeneous time, this supposes a differing/deferring and differentiated duration: in a split second the light can change, and we’re dealing with a divisionality of the first time.”

There is a boundless universe in our everyday life.

Hirohisa Koike

permalink  April 25, 2017