This year Urban Festival UIT is turning its focus on parasitic architecture. We’re looking at the city as it communicates, reacts, develops and adapts and how its many different inhabitants form the living and breathing urban ecosystem. Everyone has their role to play in this system.
Although cities are mostly deliberately planned, there are also many elements that seem almost random as though they’ve sprung out of nowhere. It’s not always clear how they got to where they are and who put them there, in fact, we might not even notice them. On closer inspection it appears that these urban ticks have cunningly clasped themselves onto buildings and structures and have no plan of letting go. The creators of these urban parasites are often city dwellers themselves who are giving their environment new and necessary functions through a kind of grassroots activism. Adding these kinds of creations makes the city less anonymous and more personal and similar to inhabitants. It’s therefore fitting to raise the questions – is it really parasitism or rather a symbiosis?
10 urban parasites have been created and placed all over Tartu as a part of UIT Festival’s parasitic architecture installation programme. We’ve asked both local and foreign artists to view the city from a parasite’s perspective and encouraged them to find new ways of life either the deficit or excess of space. Urban parasites have found their master organisms in narrow spaces between buildings, in abandoned factories, overgrown ponds and forgotten cinemas. Installations are scattered all over Tartu, go and find them!
Participants are artists and collectives from different fields and disciplines, as well as students and pupils of Tartu Architecture School. Participating artists are: designer and parasitic architecture enthusiast Fernando Abellanas (ES), architect and installation artist Nuno Pimenta (PT), technological art duo Varvara & Mar (EE/ES), design and scenography duo RaivioBumann (FI), visual and installation artist Flo Kasearu and urbanist Andra Aaloe (EE), textile and installation artist Eva Mustonen (EE) and sustainable architecture practitioners from NOMAD architects (LV).
In addition, young artists will have the opportunity to create their own urban parasites: animators Roland Seer & Carol Schults (EE) and architecture student Iiris Toom (EE), whose projects were selected through the open call.
For the first time, students from the Tartu department of the Architecture School, whose supervisors are Liis Uustal and Madli Maruste, will also take part.
Eva Mustonen (1986) has lately been enchanted by a DIY aesthetic and vintage items which have inspired her grand room filling installations at different exhibitions. Mustonen is inspired by personal stories which she translates into the language of objects, handicraft and short stories. Recurring themes are home and handicraft (and their meaning), the experience of being a woman and the behind the scenes of making art.
Fernando Abellanas is a designer and craftsman from Valencia, Spain. He left school at 18 to work as a plumber, but his interest in art and design led to learning the techniques on his own. For the past 14 years, Abellanas has been combining the work of a plumber, designer and craftsman - this has helped him to start his own business and finally dedicate to being a designer and artist.
He has been diving into personal artistic projects related to the city as a space for exploration, analysis and play. The theme that inspires him the most, is parasite architecture.
Flo Kasearu (1985) and Andra Aaloe (1985) are creative practitioners from Tallinn. They have created many urban art projects both together and in different groups (Vabadusplakat (2008), Bassein (2010), Kunstjärjekord (2010), O (2011, 2019), Alerts (2016), Kostüümidraama (2017) etc). All their projects have been site-specific, weird and edgy and the search for the common ground between those three words is also the reason why Andra and Flo keep coming together to create more urban art.
NOMAD Architects (Marija Katrina Dambe (LV) and Florian Betat (DE)) is a small and young architecture office based in Latvia with a strong focus on sustainability.
The core idea of their architectural projects, ranging from small installations to family houses, is to combine design with sustainability and affordability. Also, they use these projects as educational tools which should help and encourage the wider public to focus on a transition to a circular economy.
Nuno Pimenta (Porto, 1985) develops a transdisciplinary practice which articulates art and architecture. His work focuses on the appropriation and subversion of common construction elements and techniques for the creation of social and political narratives.
In recent years he has developed works in a broad range of artistic fields such as temporary architecture, installation, public art, exhibition design and performance.
RaivioBumann (Päivi Raivio (FI) and Daniel Bumann (CH)) works in the field of art and design in public space. Their background in community and public art and scenography direct their approach which they like to call re-choreographing public space. The collective processes their site specific art and design projects by choosing a frame from the environment and by continuing an imaginary story with a new layer in the form of an intervention or art work.
Varvara & Mar is an artist duo formed by Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet in 2009. In their practice, they confront social changes and the impact of the technological era. Artists have exhibited their art pieces in several international shows, such as at MAD in New York, FACT in Liverpool, Santa Monica in Barcelona, Barbican and V&A Museum in London, Ars Electronica museum Linz, ZKM in Karlsruhe, and more.
Iiris Toom (1996) is an Estonian-born designer based in the United Kingdom. Reading for an MPhil in Architecture at the University of Cambridge, her work fuses local community, climate, and culture to give contemporary form to vernacular practices.
Iiris's project was selected through the open call.
Roland Seer (1987) and Carol Schults (2001) are animators working at Tartu Multifilm animation studio who are both interested in urbanism and architecture. Carol Schults graduated from Tartu Art School as a 3D artist-designer in 2021 and proceeded to work at Tartu Multifilm. Roland Seer who is the head of Tartu Multifilm has graduated from Animation Workshop in Denmark and has worked as a lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Tartu Art School and Tartu Art College Pallas.
Architecture school is a school for little space magicians who learn how to create, look at and experience the environment around us with a fresh approach. After graduating from Architecture school a tree is no longer just a tree, or a corridor simply a corridor. The environment and the different objects in it acquire a new meaning for the pupils who experiment with the space and experience it through different exciting projects.