© Tõnu Tunnel & Tõnu Runnel

Estonia Through 100 Pairs of Eyes

22|10|2018 - 15|11|2018

It is said that the eyes are a mirror to the soul. They reflect our experiences, our worries, dreams and hopes, what we believe in and what we find unbelievable, the things we like to show and the stuff we’d rather keep hidden. But is it possible to get a glimpse of the soul of a country by looking into the eyes of its people? And can what they see offer some unique insight into their homeland that might otherwise remain invisible? 

The new exhibition entitled “Estonia Through 100 Pairs of Eyes” is a story of Estonia in pictures, compiled specifically for the centenary of the Republic of Estonia, as told by one hundred Estonians and Estonian-minded people through their eyes and emotions. The oldest person portrayed, the 100-year-old Linda Erika, was born in 1918, the same year as the Republic of Estonia. The youngest, Jako, came to this world as the first baby born in Estonia on 24 February 2017. The exhibition includes well-known persons that need no introduction, as well as several that we meet for the first time. The exhibition includes composer Arvo Pärt, fashion designer Aldo Järvsoo, writer Hando Runnel, musician Tommy Cash, children’s book illustrator Ilon Wikland and freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru; but it also features Ülle, the world’s best salesperson; schoolboy Gustav Paul, who teaches maths to children his own age on YouTube; and hockey player Michael, who has Estonian and Native American roots and calls himself Mikk.

Besides people, the exhibition also introduces Estonia as a location on the world map. Thus, it presents one hundred images of the Estonia’s best-known places (Tallinn Old Town), buildings (barn dwelling), emotions (song celebration), achievements (e-Estonia), and representative foods (cloudberry jam), which provide people unfamiliar with Estonia an insight into our culture, nature, technological achievements, cuisine and customs. The two kinds of visuals in the exhibition—portraits and moods—are linked into a whole by short texts in Estonian and English. It is a story of people and the place; the story of Estonia over a century. The exhibition is accompanied by a stately jubilee book.

The exhibition is accompanied by a soundtrack that takes the viewer on a journey from Pärt to Tätte, Tormis to Hypnobooster, from the soundtrack from the film Spring to song celebrations, combined with sounds characteristic of Estonia: the waves on the coast of Hiiumaa Island; the rattling of the old Tatra tram versus the smooth sound of the new orange trains known as the Carrots; the ringing bells of Tartu’s Town Hall; sizzling water on hot stones in a sauna and rain falling in a pine grove. These are all sounds that form an inseparable part of everyday Estonian life.

“Estonia Through 100 Pairs of Eyes” is touring Estonia and abroad: the public has already had an opportunity to see the exhibition in Tartu, Haapsalu, Stockholm, Kärdla, Toronto and Tallinn. After the exhibition in Berlin, the exhibition will travel to Rotterdam, Luxembourg, Kuressaare and San Francisco.


Mo Oct 22th 2018 to Thu Nov 15th 2018
(Mo-Fr, at 10:00 – 17:00)


Curator and artistic director:
Kaire van der Toorn-Guthan / Portrait photos, co-curator: Toomas Volkmann / Mood

photos from Estonia:
Tõnu Tunnel, Tõnu Runnel

Piret Jaaks, Mirjam Matiisen, Tiiu Suvi, Helina Piip

Sound and films:
Sven Sosnitski

Liis Piksar