Today I’m writing another small post to show you how much creativity and inventiveness can influence our everyday lives. What today is an abandoned and hidden building, tomorrow could become an amazing place, if it’s in the right hands. That’s why I decided to show you this curious place and talk about it; great ideas deserve recognition, don’t they?

If you’re in Tallinn, you’re an art enthusiast and you want to see a different place from usual, I have a really interesting option for you.

If you’re not in Estonia you don’t have to worry anyway, I can offer you a remote trip here on this post. I’ll try to involve you as much as possible!

In one of the greatest districts in Tallinn, Kalamaja, inside an anonymous building that’s pretty different from all the fancy houses in the surroundings, there’s an independent underground art gallery: METROPOL Galerii.

Kalamaja is a district overlooking the sea. Stunning.

| How is it born?

The story starts more or less in 2005, with a bunch of academic students who needed to find a studio and a place to stay. 

After having spotted this interesting ancient building in Kalamaja, they somehow managed to contact the landlord. Lucky guys, she didn’t know what to do with this house at all! After they met, they made an agreement: for a small monthly fee, they could use the building as an art studio and co-living space.

One of the many artist’s studio door in METROPOL.

At first, only the first floor was available for the artist’s exhibitions, but after the former inhabitants moved away, they took control of the whole building! That’s how the METROPOL Gallery started to come to life.

The first group of artists that was running the place decided to let the gallery stay on the first floor and call it “Gallery sport”, as the name of their group. It was slightly different from now and not-so-organised: they just did exhibitions, then left, then another group came by, and so on.

One artist that had a 2-room studio one day he decided that he didn’t need that much space anymore, so he decided to turn the second one into the 6m2 showroom we see today!

The first exhibition hosted in this gallery was really unique, it was called “Mushroom Exhibition”. Basically, two men and a woman went to mushrooms oone day, and the woman just picked up some and decided to put them in the showroom. Probably they looked really nice, I’m not sure about the meaning; but we can all agree that’s kinda strange, and interesting as well.

Now this gallery hosts exhibitions kinda regularly; they had to take a break only when the Coronavirus situation started. 

Another studio. They look really good, don’t they?

Depending on the exhibition that’s hosted, usually a lot of people visit the gallery, despite the small space and the “hidden” location! Some artists bring their own guests with them and some artists have so many fans that they don’t even need it. Also, people usually call the managers almost everyday asking if they can visit the gallery. 

They also have a dedicated space and stage for openings, for which they usually thow parties and play live music as well.

Here they basically do whatever they want: for some exhibitions they literally changed the structure of the room making the ceiling lower than usual, and putting the works upside down. Once they filled the entire room with money, so people could jump in and swim inside.

There were hosted very different artworks in there: they had painting exhibitions, as well as many other different techniques such as sculptures, installations, graphics and the list is pretty long, but you could imagine.  They also organize events every year, like their annual Art Award, a tradition that’s going on for 5/6 years now.

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Started as a joke, it then became a serious ritual that involves any artist in METROPOL. It’s a great occasion to meet and have fun all together.

“Our aim is to give good feedback to the artists, because what they’re doing is good.”  

It consists in the nomination of two artists who exhibited in the gallery during the year; for selecting and choosing the winner they use different principles: “people usually vote, but we also tried to use some witchcraft to find out the winner; it’s a little bit a performing experience!”

| My trip in the Gallery

I went to METROPOL Gallery to visit the “Compass” exhibition, created by a local artist named Santa Zukker.

I hadn’t found any picture of the gallery on the internet before going, so I was genuinely surprised when I first got inside. It’s not the classic art gallery that you could expect.

But as a “normal” art gallery, there are small and big pieces of art almost everywhere: some installations and many small decorative details are positioned all over the place, and the walls are covered with a huge number of paintings created by the many different artists who worked and lived here over the years.

As you can see, this is not a fancy art gallery or a modern design showroom; it has a totally different approach with art. This place has a completely unconventional personality. And that’s what we like about it, am I wrong?

Here, I’m sure any artist can show without feeling any prejudice or difficulty. Any artist is free to bring here the most controversial meanings and mediums to express them, and that’s exactly what happened until now! It’s enough to consult the events in their facebook page to understand what I’m talking about.

The strong point here is their expositive space, the 6m2 showroom I mentioned before. You can think it’s too small or not comfy enough to store art inside, but Santa, who exhibited there, was IN LOVE with the location. I’m sure it’s for the old school vibes it gives, and for the intimate relationship between the viewer and the artworks, both inside a small space together!

This limited area has seen a lot since METROPOL was born.. Many different unusual (and not only) exhibitions and performances have taken place here.

This is where Santa’s exhibition is now hosted, and we can say that it’s one of the most regular ones.

“Compass” painting exhibition by Santa Zukker

For a comparison, this former exhibition was called “Youtube was made in hell” – if I’m not wrong. As you can see, many various topics and themes had been settled in METROPOL until now, from the most chill to the most provocative and meaningful ones.

As I said before in the Creative City’s post.. don’t you know what I’m talking about? BAD!

Don’t worry, there’s a way to fix it. A while ago I wrote an article about the Creative City of Tallinn, and I think it could be interesting for you to read about it here!

When Industrial Meets Creative – Telliskivi, Tallinn

Come with me to a small trip in Telliskivi, the adorable Creative City of Tallinn!

.. As we were saying, I find these places particularly interesting for their ability to “rebirth”. Also in this case, some artists took care of an abandoned building and created a space dedicated to art, artists and fonds of art. They managed to give a personality and purpose to a place that was left to itself. 

Just a bunch of artists, a lot of creativity and (I assume) lots of fun and sacrifices as well can make the difference.

Last but not least, I highly recommend to read this post about them:

Even if it’s in Estonian, I think it’s worth to take a couple of minutes from your busy day to translate it in English and read it; I really enjoyed it!

I want to thank again Santa, that with her exhibition made it possible for me to know this amazing place and to Kaarel that had the patience to tell me all the story and show me the place!

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