Estonian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Presents Liina Siib A Woman Takes Little Space

LIINA SIIB’s project A Woman Takes Little Space will represent Estonia at the 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition at the Estonian Pavilion is commissioned by the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia.

The exhibition A Woman Takes Little Space consists of six conceptually connected room installations in an apartment-like, (un)homely environment. In her photo, video and site-specific room installations, the artist explores various topics, ranging from femininity and social space to different representations of women in contemporary society, as well as ‘feminine’ jobs and prostitution.

Liina Siib, “A Woman Takes Little Space,” 2008–2011. Digital pigment print, 30 x 45 cm. © Liina Siib

The title work of the exhibition, the photography series A Woman Takes Little Space (2007–2011), captures women of different ages and social status at their places of work. The series is inspired by a claim made in an opinion column on gender equality that appeared in the Estonian media a few years ago stating that women need less space for their everyday work (and less pay) than men. One of the questions that runs through the exhibition touches on the mechanisms that allow such ideas (though in the interests of political correctness they are quashed in public debate) to continue relatively unhindered as a result of an unsaid agreement between all parties.

In the installation A Room of One’s Own (2011) a video presents the housework and home life of housewives living in a new suburb close to Tallinn. These images are shown alongside Russian women dancing among themselves at an open-air concert in a wintery landscape. In the work Apartness (2008) there are photographs of middle-aged women who, having dressed themselves according to their idea of what men fantasize about, create a certain heightened trophy image of women. The video installation Averse Body (2007), filmed through a car window against views of Tallinn at night, involves interviews with prostitutes, in which the artist asks what they think of their bodes, what their clients think, what they would like to change about themselves, how much time they spend on their appearance and so forth.

Along with work that focuses on the private sphere and the body, there is also the video Unsocial Hours (2011), which explores the model of the cycle of women’s work and social life through food; to be more specific, cheap pastries produced in a bakery that works through the night and which are sold in the kiosks at Tallinn Railway Station, and eaten in cafes in Lasnamäe or during breaks by doctors and nurses working at Pelgulinn Hospital. Along with a focus on space, there is also a strong emphasis on time—the circling of time, and a certain element of ritual repetition and ‘not getting anywhere’.

Men are only seen briefly in this exhibition, but their voice also has a place—as singing, or rather sounds, coming from the bathroom (His Song, 2011), as the announcer in the video Unsocial Hours, and in a slightly removed way in the work Averse Body, which is based on Jerzy Grotowski’s claim that prostitutes have a particular loathing for and lack of trust in their bodies.

Liina Siib was born in 1963 in Tallinn, Estonia, where she currently lives and works. She studied graphic art and photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts, where she also earned an MA in photography. Her recent works examine different aspects of femininity, dealing with social space and subjectivity. She has had thirty solo exhibitions in Estonia, Germany, Belgium, France, Finland and Latvia. Her works have been presented at a number of exhibitions in Estonia, Europe, Asia and the USA. Her works are in the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia, the Tartu Art Museum, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Neues Museum für Kunst und Design in Nuernberg etc.

Commissioner: Johannes Saar, head of the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia
Deputy Commissioners: Elin Kard, Andris Brinkmanis

Estonia’s participation at the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice is commissioned by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and organized by the Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia and the Estonian Embassy in Rome.

Estonian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Palazzo Malipiero,
San Marco 3079,

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