Johannes Säre, Untitled Smoke Ring Cannon. View to exhibition "Spacechanges" at Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, 2013.

Johannes Säre (1983) is a multidisciplinary artist with a background in photography, focusing on the interplay of language, pop culture and manipulation of the sense of space. His installations are characterised by subtle humour and slight shifts in sense of space.

The focus in Säre’s works is on the viewer: at first glance, his installations seem interactive, however, on closer inspection the viewer is not really given an active role, rather they are “trapped” in the work. For example, in works “Untitled (Collapsing room)” (Nimeta (Kokkukukkuv tuba), 2013) and “Viewer walks down the slope and back up again” (Vaataja kõnnib kallakust alla ja üles tagasi, 2013) it almost seems that the audience is taken advantage of by the artist, since they have been subjected to the artist’s strategy unknowingly. Säre’s seeming audacity towards the visitor is also evident in “Untitled (Smoke ring cannon)” (Nimeta (Suitsurõngakahur), 2013) that was inspired by the artist’s desire to “puff something in the face of the viewer”. In his work Säre tries to solve the issue of the viewers’ passivity and offer a memorable experience to people who do not visit exhibitions regularly.

Based on how Säre engages with the viewer, his work can be divided into three main types: playing with space, kinetic installations and static objects. Projects that involve playing with space dictate the visitor movements in that space, such as “Rhizome” (Risoom), “Untitled mirror space (The back of your head)” (Nimeta peegliruum (Sinu kukal)) and “Viewer walks down the slope and back up again” (2013). Kinetic installations, such as “Untitled (Smoke ring cannon)” and “Untitled (Collapsing room)” are activated by the visitor’s movements. Static objects do not dictate viewers’ movements. The latter are perhaps the most conventional artworks – the visitor can view them undisturbed and experience the works in their own terms. Often, these works also feature playing with language, for example, in “Non-Perpetuum Mobile” (2013) and “Untitled stack of weights” (Pealkirjastamata kuhi kaale, 2013).

Between 2008–2010 Säre was part of the art collective JIM (together with Iti Kasser and Maido Juss). At the centre of their exhibitions was the mythology of stars and its deconstruction, contemporary outlook on life between digital culture and the public space. Säre has also collaborated with photo artists Kristiina Hansen and Sigrid Viir. He and Hansen worked together on the exhibition “Little house in periphery” (2012) and all three collaborated on shows at Haapsalu City Gallery (2014) and Tartu Art House (2015), with the last two taking the Neo-Conceptualist approach to the absurd.

In his latest solo show at Hobusepea Gallery (2017, curated by Siim Preiman) Säre displayed a video work in a miniature concert hall, where he combine Richard Wagner’s epic musical work “Ride of the Valkyries” with clips of everyday scenes.


Johannes Säre studied photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts (BA, 2009). He has won the People’s Choice Award of Köler Prize (2014). Since 2016 he is the director of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia. His works belong to the collection of the Art Museum of Estonia (together with Kristiina Hansen) and the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (in collaboration with the artist collective JIM).


Selected projects

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