Johannes Säre (1983) is an installation artist whose works are based on language games, pop culture, and creating spatial illusion and wonder, all with a focus on the perspective of the viewer. At first glance his installations appear interactive, although in reality the viewer is not actually involved, but more accurately, “trapped”. Works such as‘Untitled (Collapsing Room)’ (2013) and ‘The Viewer Walking Down a Slope’ and ‘Then Back Up Again’ (2013) in a sense exploit the viewer, because they are only able to consciously obey the artist’s strategy. This method of seemingly blatant instruction is also present in ‘Untitled (Smoke Ring Cannon)’ (2013), the catalyst for which was the simple idea to “whack the viewer’s face with a puff of smoke”. In his works Säre attempts to challenge the audience’s passivity and offer an unknown experience.
Säre practices three types of contact with the viewer: spatial shifts, kinetic installations and static objects. Spatial shifts, which direct the viewer’s movement in the space are found in works such as ‘Rizom’, ‘Untitled Mirror Room (The Back of Your Head)’, ‘The Viewer Walking Down a Slope and Then Back Up Again’ (2013). Kinetic installations like ‘Untitled (Smoke Ring Cannon)’ and ‘Untitled (Collapsing Room)’ (2013) activate the viewer’s movement. The static objects however, don’t dictate the viewer’s movement – these are perhaps the most conventional artworks – instead, providing a stark contrast, they can be observed according to one’s own rules. However, often such works are literal games, offering cerebral and inner forms of contact, such as ‘Non-Perpetuum Mobile and Untitled Pile of Weighs’ (2013).
During 2008–2010 Säre was a member of the art group JIM (with Iti Kasser and Maido Juss). The core of their exhibitions were the mythology of celebrity and its deconstruction, and the mediation of contemporary lifestyles between digital culture and public space. Säre has also collaborated with photographers Sigrid Viir and Kristiina Hansen.
Johannes Säre studied photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts. In 2014 he won the public’s choice award at Köler Prize exhibition. Since 2016 he has been the Executive Director of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia.