Wanderings around the city are inevitable during your own mapping process. And one could easily walk in a reverie through the Old Town and get gently lost amongst the narrow streets and cobbled alleys. But we should take care not to paint the place as one stuffed full of noble savages tuned into Dame Nature’s deeper rhythms. Rather, making an effort in getting to know the place with its many contradictions and oddly quotidian secrets is an ever-giving one. For instance, Tallinn’s history is one that is permanently at play in its current reshaping. There is a sense of ambition, even ruthlessness present in the place, and previous iterations of Tallinn are now being reshuffled like a pack of cards. Some psyched-out, switched-on cartographer should make a memory map of the places that have disappeared. And which version of the city is currently the best bet? This is where the book Andres kindly gave me at the EKKM party comes into play. City headspaces can be given another dimension when this passage, written by Peeter Laurits, is properly ingested. It’s about Tarkovsky but can easily be reemployed to understand the city’s restless, weird, protean spirit and many of its inhabitants’ actions. Italics are mine.
Escapism is not a popular concept in our society, it’s more of a curse word. Popular words include struggle, success, growth and expansion, but escapism is defined through fleeing and loss. Moving from one place to another, turning away, is flight seen through only one angle, it might be called approach or arrival from another. When we turn our back on where escapists are leaving and focus instead on where they are going, we can also configure an escapist avant-garde. Tendencies that seem completely asocial also embody a new type of sociality. Stalker, who looks away from where social pressure tells him to look, is an earthworm, who tenderises and aerates the manure for a new and different kind of society to sprout.
[Participants experiencing Musicity x TAB 2019 on location.]
It’s worth also saying that Tallinn and all that goes on here does not reflect Estonia. For one thing the changes here seem to be happening in a different way. In relation to other Estonian cities and towns, such as Tartu, Rakvere and Narva, Tallinn has an almost teenage yearning to try things out for size, to rip things up and start again. This may be down to access to funds, a capital city’s confidence in turning heritage on its head or just a desire to show it can be like anywhere else, not some mythical faerieland ready to be patronised and plundered every tourist season. Regardless, the cityscape is rapidly changing. Buildings that had stood in ruins on my first visit are now reinvented into something else. For how long, nobody knows. And for whom? Developments around Kultuurikatel and Telliskivi balance unsteadily on a tightrope between manifestations of Europe-wide “creative play parks” for the seriously inclined, and somewheres that could be nowhere else.
But enough postulations on a macro level. Many can do that and this article is not a glorified prospectus. To come to terms with the city and the sounds on this collection we need to set our divining rods to street level.