NSFW. A Chairman’s Tale

Estonian pavillion at the 56th Venice Biennale
9 May – 22 November 2015

Museum of Occupations, Tallinn
15 April – 9 October 2016

The exhibition “Not Suitable For Work. A Chairman’s Tale” researches gay history in Estonia during the Soviet era. Depicted as a fragmented fictitious opera, the exhibition is a multimedia installation with videos and found objects displayed along-side archival materials.

The so-called “Chairman” was a kolkhoz chairman, a war veteran, and a family man, who lived in Soviet-era Estonia. In mid-1960s, the Chairman was expelled from the Communist Party due to his implication in a court case dealing with homosexual acts. Two years later, after a degrading process of investigation, he was sentenced to one-and-a-half years of hard labor. Following the loss of his social status, as well as his dignity, family, and job, the Chairman moved towns. As an ex-convict, he was only offered low-status jobs. However, the Chairman found recognition elsewhere, becoming notorious in the local gay community for his outrageous behaviour. In 1990, just a year before Estonia regained independence and homosexuality was decriminalized, the Chairman was murdered, allegedly by a soldier who also worked as a male prostitute.

Videos featured at the exhibition were made in collaboration with film-maker Marko Raat based on Chairman’s criminal file and the rumors that still surround him.

Curated by Eugenio Viola
www.chairmanstale.com
www.cca.ee

Installation views from the Venice exhibition

Photos by Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo, Johannes Säre

Installation views from the Tallinn exhibition
Photos by Anna-Stina Treumund