An exhibition on the impact of coffee on Estonian art and literature. At the Eduard Vilde Museum from 17 October 2017 to 6 January 2018
“Gone with the Coffee” is an exhibition on the visual and textual impact of cafés and coffee on Estonian art and literature. Selected examples from the literary and visual arts of the early 20th century reflect the phenomenon of mythical café-Treffpunkts (Werner, Linden, Tartu University Café, Pegasus etc.) as well as the creative influence these social and intellectual spaces had on local creators.
Cafeś began to spring up in Estonian bourgeois urban spaces around the First World War and even faster after the War of Independence. These cafés were established in part after the fashion of Finnish cafés, but were mostly inspired by those in great Western European cities (Paris, Vienna, Rome, Berlin etc.). The café (along with the car and cinema) was one of the most significant symbols of modern western urban consciousness. The café brought one close to an eventful and socially rich life. Cafés were a place to drink endless amounts of coffee, but they also became a significant daily part of the urban lifestyle. It could be said that in their own way cafés transformed Estonia: it is there that a nation of peasants became a nation of culture, one could feel like a real European.
In later decades certain cafés such as Werner, Pegasus and KUKU offered creatives a more open intellectual atmosphere. A sense of freedom when freedom was absent.
The reputation and influence of cafés has certainly been affected by the cafés’ patrons. Over several decades of the 20th century certain cafés (such as Werner in Tartu and Pegasus in Tallinn) served as meeting places for writers, artists, professors, actors, scholars and other intellectuals. This created the base for a synergic socio-cultural space which has influenced both the creator and their creations.
Today, the enormous amount of similar quality cafés along with changes in people’s communication needs means that we don’t see “Werners” of much significance anymore. People don’t visit cafés to hear the news, debate with peers, recite new literary works or just hang around – that is what Facebook is for. We go to a café to recuperate and take a break from everyday stress. People use their money to buy an hour or two out of their own day to stop, focus, think, look outside the window, write.
Curator: Kairi Tilga (Tallinn Literary Centre)
Guest Curator: Kerttu Männiste (the Art Museum of Estonia)
Design: Mae Kivilo, Maarja-Liis Raamat, Alden Jõgisuu
The Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, Under and Tuglas Literature Centre, E-Kunstisalong, Haus Gallery, Mart Lepp, Mare Jugandi, Tea Taliaru, Viivi Luik, Doris Kareva, Jaak Jõerüüt, Jan Kaus, Leelo Tungal, Andrus Kivirähk, Maimu Berg, Jürgen Rooste, Ave Alavainu, Veronika Kivisilla
We would also like to thank: Liisu Arro, TaevaniMaani Meistrikoda, Reval Cafe
Coffee at the exhibition is provided by King Coffee Service OÜ
The Cultural Endowment of Estonia
Tallinn Literary Centre