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Jaanus Samma

Jaanus Samma during his researches in Rome Jaanus Samma during his researches in Rome The Map of Rome Jaanus Samma during his researches in Rome Jaanus Samma during his researches in Rome

Curated by Eugenio Viola

Nomas Foundation invited the Estonian artist Jaanus Samma to do a residency in Rome (May-June 2016), in order to realize a site-specific project curated by Eugenio Viola that will be presented in the space of the foundation in 2017.
Jaanus Samma has received international recognition from the critics and the audience for the Estonian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. In the last years his research has been focused on the connection between authoritative regimes and the violation of fundamental human rights.
Not Suitable For Work. A Chairman’s Tale, the project presented in Venice and recently re-exhibited at the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, shares the same interest, devoted to transforming the social discourse on the LGBTI rights into a broader denouncement addressed at all kinds of discrimination: cultural, social, political, religious, sexual and racial.
Samma belongs to a generation of artists whose research is moved by a particuliar preoccupation for the past, investigated to face the criticism and the wound of the present. For this reason, his research and his practice are based in the use of archives and the expressive potentiality connected to them.
His modus operandi tends to question a series of acquired notions, connected with concepts as truth, authenticity and reliability of sources. It aims to suggest counter-interpretations capable to promote alternative visions and new points of view.
According to this, Samma’s work stresses the importance of selection of data and documents, of their critical interpretation and their correct classification, as the divergence between personal and collective memory and between macro and micro historical perspective.


Jaanus Samma (b 1982) is a visual artist from Estonia. His body of work includes photos, installations and videos with topics that have been grounded in the study of urban space and the subjective experiences of it. Later his interests moved towards gender studies investigating into the representation of male sexuality and ways of portraying this by artistic means.
Samma is currently participating in the Estonian Academy of Arts doctoral program for fine arts.
His topic for artistic research is mapping gay narratives in Soviet Estonia. His PhD combines fieldwork – interviews and archive research, but also more subjective and artistic output based on the findings.
In 2013 Samma won the Köler Prize, the main prize for contemporary art in Estonia.
In 2015 Samma represented Estonia at 56th Venice Biennial.


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