Woman as a Hero


This exhibition in Valga Museum was follow-up to my three previous exhibitions during my PhD studies at Estonian academy of Arts. I aimed to connect mythology with the reality. There are folk tales about giant and strong men and women who carried the stones, built sauna and fight the enemies. The scientists think the roots for those giants and in real life people who were exceptionally tall and strong. The trouble with female gants is they misfit into the typical female role and so they are overshadowed by their male counterparts. Everybody knows giants and heroes like Suur Tõll, Vanapagan and Kalevipoeg but there is little known about giant women. The represenation of a strong independent giant mythical women is influenced by masculine discurs, which shows them weaker and more ladylike than told by the very first informants in 19. century. There is animated film "Suur Tõll" by Rein Raamat (1980) where an ancient male hero is fighting against the enemies. His wife Piret comes across marginalized as a passive homemaker and just dies when Vanapagan demolishes their house. I created my version of the scene where Suur Tõll hold the wheels, fighting the enemies.

Suur Tõll / Tõll, the Giant (2017). Photo



Suur Tõll/ Tõll the Giant (2017). Video

Elmina Otsman, the first Estonian female combine harvester operator and a Hero of Socialist Labour became so famous during Soviet times that we can talkabout legend. That makes her similar to Suur Tõll except she is a woman. Even though popular culture avoids that information, Tõll's wife Piret has been told being equal to her husband by strenght and bravery.

Estonia is a stoney land. Stones are the farmers' enemies. Giant women often carried a big stones. Elmina Otsman was not big but she carried the stones from the fields in order to clean the fields before the crops will be sowed. The stones can ruin the combine harvester during harvest. Nobody paid her for collecting the stones. She worked mostly alone with the horse and based on her diary she carried away 446 piles of stones in 1973. I try to show this enormous work with the 40 copies of her diary. It makes a timelineof a year 1973.

The exhibition view at Valga Museum gallery before opening



I am giving an interview for Estonian Daily News AK after the opening



Page from Elmina Otsman's diary: the 1st astronaut of USSR Juri Gagarin was her great role model and a hero