Jaanus Samma ‘Nettles’

As the title suggests, the installation ‘Netttles’ has been created from nettles – plants that traditionally have been likened to weeds. In Jaanus Samma’s work nettles have been used to create an undersized interpretation of baroque ornaments and rhythms characteristic to the Versailles gardens. These forms traditionally considered in relation to extravagance and splendour, have now been combined with the ostensibly ugly, thus neutralising the strict divide between them.

Jaanus Samma (1982) studied graphic art in Estonia and France and currently is a research student at the Estonian Academy of Arts. As part of his research, the artist explores homosexuality in Soviet Estonia, artistically re-interpreting various interviews and archival materials. Among the generation of young Baltic artists, Jaanus Samma is recognised as one of the most internationally acclaimed artists. His creative practice is directed by scientific curiosity, which also extends to researching the conditions of art creation and exhibiting. Jaanus Samma fuses installation, photography and video in his work, focusing on themes that relate to gender studies, male sexuality and its depiction, boundaries between private and public space, and the relationship between human instincts and their control.

In 2015 he represented the Estonian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (‘Not Suitable For Work: A Chairman’s Tale’), creating a multimedia installation, which is based on a true story of a historical character and recounts the living conditions of sexual minorities in totalitarian circumstances. Jaanus Samma has organised several solo exhibitions and participated in international group shows. In 2013 he was awarded the Estonian contemporary art award Köler Prize grand prix and People’s Choice Award, as well as the jury’s award for his installation ‘Box’.