This Q&A column focuses on the indeterminate borders between off-/project-/artist-run spaces and the people that keep them going [#Off Space Q&A]
Hoib is a contemporary art gallery at Tehnika 15 in Tallinn. Its name is a clever and ‘accidental’ misspelling of the surname of the gallery’s founder, Lilian Hiob. Located in the below-ground level of a residential building, the idea to refurbish the basement into a gallery space was inspired by the need for an autonomous exhibition space for young artists and curators. Free from established institutional restrictions, the new gallery allows for artistic experimentation and curatorial freedom.
Was it a good idea?
Yes. The second best thing I have ever come up with. The first one being adopting my dear dog Luna from the shelter.
Who/what has held you up?
The artists, the visitors, my dear friends and family, and warm support from the press and colleagues. Everyone who has been interested in Hoib and the exhibitions inside of the space – this thing would not exist without the people. I have had the best dialogues and discussions with the artists and with the visitors. This is literally the thing that holds me up. I would never have these long discussions about art and life, literature, pop-culture, and some personal confessions if I wouldn’t run the appointment-only gallery Hoib.
Is there a limit?
For the artists and curators I’m working with, I try to give as much creative freedom as possible and also I’m working hard to get the funding for producing the shows, so I feel until now there has been no limit. Of course the budget and the size of the space sets some very straightforward limits, but there is so much creativity to play around these limits – I honestly don’t see the limit in that sense. Having said that, I think we have to be critical about this neoliberal, growth and profit oriented mentality of “there are no limits, we can do everything, we as humans have power to do ANYTHING we want, no matter the price, the well-being of other living beings and the future”. Limitlessness can be problematic and destructive. Yes, I’m thinking about Jeff Bezos’ space trip when saying this.
What do you need?
Art(ists), meaningful conversations and feedback, financial support for Hoib Gallery, playfulness and sincerity.
What has been given and what do you take?
The basement space where Hoib is located came with the apartment I am renting upstairs, so I can say the space was given as a plus with the apartment. I took the decision and made it into an exhibition space. I take Hoib and all the collaborations seriously.
Is it sustainable?
It is…I think. No?
What is the shape?
A groovy octagon, there is a built-in oven in the exhibition space.
Does it fit?
I made it fit and now it does.
Future or Past?
Future, the post-human fantasy.
Indeed. I’m a huge fan of Donna Haraway’s philosophy, and she was the one who brought this word into my knowledge. I’m using an opportunity to quote her here:
“Making kin seems to me the thing that we most need to be doing in a world that rips us apart from each other, in a world that has already more than seven and a half billion human beings with very unequal and unjust patterns of suffering and well-being. By kin I mean those who have an enduring mutual, obligatory, non-optional, you-can’t-just-cast-that-away-when-it-gets-inconvenient, enduring relatedness that carries consequences. I have a cousin, the cousin has me; I have a dog, a dog has me.”
What do you measure?
I try to measure and compare as little as possible.
Digital or physical?
Exhibition-wise, I have to say physical. Spontaneity is not possible digitally. It’s a great archive though, and a great tool to spread the exhibition around the audiences. I’m working a lot inside the Internet and looking at a lot of digital representations of the physical exhibitions – and I’m very thankful these platforms exist, they play a big role in cultivating certain ideas and trends in the field. I find digital extensions of the physical very important. But digitally autonomous – I don’t have that much machine in me yet that could make me feel something similar to what I experience in a physical exhibition. NFTs for me is business for cyborgs.
Why do you stay?
Because I belong here.
Is it enough?