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Toomas Volkmann

pastful blast

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Large-scale retrospective exhibition of Toomas Volkmann’s work opens tells the artist’s story in more than 100 photographs from his 30-year creative journey. The importance of the exhibition lies not only in the unravelling of the artist’s own world, but also in the sensitive mapping of an era, from the painful brittleness of the 1990s to the arrogant aesthetics of the 2010s. For the first time, the exhibition will occupy not only the exhibition hall but also the 1st and 6th floors of Fotografiska.

Toomas Volkmann has studied in the University of Tartu and the Theatre Arts Academy. From 1993-1994 he studied photography in London. Since 1995 he has been a freelance photographer, working with practically all Estonian media. He has been active in exhibitions in Estonia and abroad since 1979, and has also been a guest lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Tartu Art School.

Volkmann’s language is symbolically dense, allowing the creation of highly charged image-constellations. He is at once theatrical and discreet, morbid and vivid, spectacularly dramatic and skin-deeply intimate. “Pastful Blast” unfolds in a confluence of these contradictory facets, not along a linear timeline but rather along a symbolist-allegorical path.

The exhibition consists of several series – “Beginning”, “Flowers”, “Fashion”, “Portraits”, “Youth”, “Triptychs” and “Vibe” and is accompanied by a comprehensive photo book.

The curators are Kaire van der Toorn-Guthan and Tanel Veenre. For the exhibition hall, Taavi Tulev created a special multi-channel sound design using photographic equipment and photography-related sounds.

"With Toomas one could start the history of Estonian performance, the theme of gender was characteristic in his series of portraits. The theme of gender cannot be addressed convincingly without a personal relationship. The 1990s are one of the most personal periods in contemporary Estonian art ever."
Eha Komissarov
© Toomas Volkmann


The exhibition includes photos from the VIBE series of parties, which started in October 1998 in the boiler room of the Liiva warehouses. VIBE soon exploded into a party that drove thousands crazy, and its VIP room was the place where the Estonian cultural and business elite went wild. As these massive raves took place in the pre-smartphone era, Toomas Volkmann was the official photographer of the event. The VIBE parties brought both the culture of the mass raves and the drag queens to life, and the photo galleries that appeared in the social pages of Eesti Ekspress broke the taboos of post-Soviet grey Estonia.

© Toomas Volkmann
© Toomas Volkmann