Elīna Vītola

Soft Lines, Hard Shadows


For some time already, Elīna Vītola has been trying to find traces of her great-uncle, the painter Herbert Roman Leja, who disappeared in the Second World War. Little by little, Elīna gathers pieces of information about her relative by rummaging through archives and internet communities and contacting hitherto unknown relatives, hoping to find some of his paintings along the way too. She’s heard, but doesn’t know for sure, that her great-uncle lost an arm and a leg in battle and eventually made it to England via infiltration camps in Germany and Belgium, where he spent at least some time in a care home. Much remains unknown, such as whether or not he continued to paint after the war.

In society, we often entrust care work to institutions and larger collectives. As such institutions could be see the state itself, nursing homes, but also exhibition houses, which are expected to carefully host the artists participating in their programme. During my work in Tallinn Art Hall, I have felt how difficult it can be to find a balance between the wishes and expectations of guest artists, the facilities of the institution and my own personal well-being.