Lestberg Ly, Kai Kaljo, Ly Lestberg: what do you read, my Lord?, Nuova Icona, Venice, 2001
Kai Kaljo, Tallinn Art Hall, Tallinn, 26 November 2005–1 January 2006→
Kai Kaljo. A Loser, Sprengel Museum, Hanovre, 30 November 2003–15 February 2004
Estonian video artist.
Born to a family of artists (both her parents were engravers), Kai Kaljo studied at a school specialised in music, after which she worked for several years (1979-1983) as a decorator at one of Tallinn’s main theatres. She then studied painting from 1983 to 1990 at the Institute of Fine Arts in Tallinn, where she began to teach in 1990. She currently teaches contemporary art at Tallinn University. After starting out her career with installations, stained-glass windows, murals, and graffiti, she made her first video, Luuser [“Loser”] in 1997 for the Funny Versus Bizarre exhibition in Vilnius. It features the artist in close-up, speaking in a low voice for a little under one and a half minutes about objective facts about her life as an Estonian artist, which are met with laughter similar to American TV comedy canned laughter. A dark and bitter encapsulation of the Eastern European identity and of an artist’s situation in contemporary society, the film gained considerable international acclaim and launched Kaljo’s career as a video artist.
She continued to film herself in videos both poetic and ironic, often inspired by her own life. Several of these, which she made in the United States, develop a criticism of the superficiality and artificiality of American society. Her videos have been shown worldwide and her work has been the subject of some fifteen solo exhibitions in Estonia and several European countries.
Kai Kaljo, The more I work the poorer I become (detail), undated, photographic installation, © Kai Kaljo