07.12 - 19.01.2025

all exhibitions

Olga Jürgenson’s installation “Back to Toila”

Olga Jürgenson’s installation “Back to Toila”

7.12.24 – 19.01.2025

Note: This is preliminary information. The exact dates, information and translations of the exhibition will be published soon.

A 100 years ago, after Estonia gained independence, thousands of ethnic Estonians residing in Russia applied for Estonian citizenships in order to return to their homeland. Those who got the Estonian passports, travelled in train coaches, directed from different areas of Russia to Moscow and then put together in one echelon there and moved across the border, to Narva train station in Estonia. According to the Estonian State Archive there were 29 such echelons that crossed the border over 4 years. The optants traveled in carriages designed for transporting goods, not people, sometimes trips took weeks, the travellers were often faced with malnutrion, diseases resulting with deaths, especially amongst children and the elderly. This part of history looks especially poignant now, as thousands of Ukrainian refugees crossed the same Estonian border in Narva, along with numerous European nationals, including Estonians, who used to reside in Russia and recently escaped it.

The installation is based on stories about Estonian side of Olga’s family, who migrated from Ida-Virumaa to Volga area (Russia) in 1869-1870, and those of them who returned back during 1920-1923, when Estonia gained independence.

Olga Jürgenson is born in Siberia, raised in Soviet Estonia, currently based in the UK.