Mare Tralla, Estonian Dreams, 1996
Mare Tralla
Estonian Dreams

Mare Tralla [aka Disgusting Girl] (*1971), is an Estonian-born artist who lives and works in London and Tallinn. Her professional career started in the early 1990s and was shaped by the rapid changes in Estonian society, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her works are often a direct critical response to those changes and their effects on women. “In the mid-1990s she was amongst the few courageous women (and men) who understood that, for the more harmonious and just development of Estonian society, a ‘small feminist revolution’ was direly needed. Mare conceived of this ‘revolution’ in a personal format within the field of contemporary art” (Katrin Kivimaa). In 1995, Tralla, Eha Komissarov and Reet Varblane curated the first openly feminist Estonian art exhibition Est.Fem. Her often self-ironic artworks question the place and role of women in our societies and how women from Eastern Europe are perceived in the Western world. Her recent works deal with issues of privacy, surveillance and protection from a gendered perspective. In her practice, Tralla employs and combines a variety of media – from painting, photography, performance and video to interactive media.

artist's website:

To be in the bosom of the EU was a dreamlike yearning of Estonia in 1996. This performance was a critique of the almost desperate aspirations of Estonia in particular and Eastern Europe in general to be accepted by Europe without any discussions and questions asked. With hair dryers symbolizing the new capitalist pressure on women to beautify themselves in the 1990s, the artist uses feminist tactics to blow away a national flag, revealing the circle of EU stars and ironically likening the EU to the former, hated Soviet regime.
Performance: 26 September 1996, Tallinn Art Hall

video, colour, sound, 3:00 min

Issue date

nationalism, de/construct identities