CRITICISM - M.-K. Soomre, The queue as a social statement. – Estonian Art 2010, nr 1
It is, however, not by chance that this spring another queue appeared in the Art Hall in central Tallinn, near the city government building, this time a real art project – Art
Queue 100×100 EEK, under the aegis of Culture Capital 2011. For the competition of events preparing for the Culture Capital, the artist Flo Kasearu and her colleagues suggested that the grant received from the foundation (allocated as production support for weekly mini projects) should be divided between those gathered at the Art Hall, according to position in the queue. By means of an artificially created queue – a living sculpture – the organisers wished to attract attention to the art institution, the most classic white cube in town, which was at the moment standing empty between exhibitions. The rather art world-specific action (in the context of earlier actions, however, it probably had an undertone of political comment) posed questions about the relationship with the audience. It also offered a critical comment on the economic logic increasingly dominating the cultural field – evaluating cultural institutions and events solely on the basis of the size of the audience, or the length of the queue. The first one hundred people in the queue on 5 April received a blue banknote (100 EEK) from the organisers, and so an audience was attracted by a totally honest business
transaction, referring to the obvious: it is a piece of cake to assemble a queue.
Paradoxically, the action happened at the moment when there were queues at the very
same spot at the Art Hall: in March, the private art collector Enn Kunila was exhibitargument, and mass psychosis feeds upon itself. In the increasingly stagnating Estonian society, brand-politicians and employees enjoying their positions to the full indeed prefer to appeal to the masses and their taste – an argument which primarily helps to cement conservative-national views and phenomena. A queue in such a society, reflecting the approval of the masses, no doubt forms the basis of success. The interest of the public, or lack of it, which is usually only examined as a ‘statistical’ factor, can become a propaganda lie, against uncomfortable cultural phenomena and for more populist projects. The seemingly conditional boundary between these phenomena does exist, and this should be kept in mind: professional standards, specialists’ opinions, should maintain the gravitas that politicians are desperately trying to abolish (calling social scientists ‘Red professors’, accusing the critics of a propagandist monument of self-serving motives). It is essential to remember, especially in the cultural area, that a queue is a quantitative format which provides no reason to make decisions on the quality of either those who stand in it, or on the purpose for standing in the queue. Cultural experience is no more valuable if it takes place in the macho-like ‘first come, first served’ hierarchy; every museum visit is a separate value, especially in our lively art life, with its multiple programmes, where the main value and cultural policy statement should continue to be independence and essential quality.