SELF DEFENCE is the first part of «MÄE» project, a selection from over 1000 negatives taken between 2007-2017. The photos are hand-printed and toned by author.

“Often, the landscape of childhood - the omphalos (the Greek word for navel, symbolisesthe centre of the world), the “first place” - is associated strongly with identity.”¹

My connection with the “first place” is still persistent. In 1989 I was one of the first kids torun between the newly finished panel houses of the 7th microrayon of Lasnamäe. Nine-storey buildings grew before my eyes, idols among endless wastelands and burnt grass -it fascinated my 6-year-old consciousness. Reflecting from the gravel-covered walls, thesun filled this vast space with a warm, yellow light. This is my first vivid memory of theplace I grew up with and together with whom I began to grow old.

The amount of historical materials from different periods of Lasnamäe (archivaldocuments, photographs, memories) is contrastingly small compared to other areas,although its history appears to be one of the most complex and controversial in Tallinn. Itstands out with its unusually high number of population, large area, and also for the factthat its environment was changed beyond recognition during the Soviet government.² In 1991, after Estonia gained independence, this district became a national ghetto forover 100,000 Russian-speaking residents. A town within a town where the rhythm wassubstantially different from the “outside”, in some aspects more tribal. The borders ofLasnamäe became division lines in our society, they also became the limits of myhomeland.

In the first part of this project, I decided to focus on landscape and the particularfragments that still connect me to my youth. Upon entering these landscapes I aminstantly able to go beyond the reach of time. Hiding behind the new facades, cleanstreets, shopping centers - this space - as if in an everlasting pause, it gives me a senseof safe and calm, evokes a piercing nostalgia and simultaneously pulls me into despair.

¹Sooväli-Sepping, H., Reinert, H., & Miles-Watson, J. (2015). Ruptured
Landscapes: Landscape, Identity and Social Change. Dordrecht: Springer, p. 4.
²Nerman, R. (1998). Lasnamäe ajalugu. Tallinn: Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus.


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