06.03 - 05.05.2024

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Pavel Rotts’ exhibition “Climbing a Memory. The Matter of Touch”

Pavel Rotts’ exhibition “Climbing a Memory. The Matter of Touch”

6.03– 05.05.2024

Artist Pavel Rotts explores traces of war and collective memory at the new exhibition in Narva Art Residency.

In collaboration with the Narva Museum and Narva Art Residency, Ingerian Finn artist Pavel Rotts will create two art projects researching collective memory through art practice. Therefore, the art projects are dedicated to the Narva March Bombing of 1944, marking 80 years since the traumatic event. Through these projects, the artist offers an alternative way to look back in time and open our eyes to the war traces in a city space. The audience can encounter an exhibition, a durational performance, workshops at NART, and, last but not least, a public installation in Narva’s city center. 

On the 6th of March, which marks 80 years since the bombing, there will be an opening of the exhibition called “The Matter of Touch” at NART. In the exhibition, the artist has focused on bombing craters on the walls of Narva, which have been there for 80 years, working as a constant reminder of the war. Casting the holes and making new sculptural replacements, Pavel Rotts creates the opportunity to touch the absent. During the exhibition opening days, there will be a durational performance, where the artist will make bricks out of local clay. This activity can be interpreted as a metaphorical rebirth of Narva. As Pavel put it: “By making history tangible, we can better understand it”. 

“The Matter of Touch” continues the artist’s ongoing research entitled “Climbing a Memory” — which began in Helsinki in 2018 — and explores historical trauma as a collective memory space in today’s city, focusing on traces from the Russo-Finnish wars.

One of Rotts’ research methods is rock climbing, considering training practice as a method of dealing with trauma. He uses self-made casts of bombing rubble and negative bomb craters straight from the wall as climbing routes. In addition, he paid a visit to the Narva Museum collection, where he got an opportunity to cast some of the fragments we can call part of the “Missing Barokk Narva”. Hence the metaphor “Climbing a Memory”.

“The Matter of Touch” exhibition is process-based and will be realized gradually, over time. There will be a series of events, during which there will be co-work with school students of Narva, practitioners of public workshops, and many others. For example, there will be brick-making and clay-firing workshops, and in collaboration with Narva Museum, the exhibition will extend to the city space. 

Pavel Rotts, (b. 1982 Petrozavodsk, USSR) is a multidisciplinary artist working with various techniques and forms, such as installation, sculpture, performance, conceptual art and artistic research. Since 2015, Pavel has been permanently based in Helsinki, Finland. He holds an MFA from the University of Arts Helsinki (2022), previously studied at St.Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design (2004) and graduated from Pro Arte Institute, St.Petersburg, in 2008. As an Ingrian Finn, Pavel draws upon his identity as a source of inspiration for many of his works. His family history has been closely intertwined with Finland and Estonia, heavily influenced by the historical relations of these countries with the Soviet Union and Russia. The exhibition at the NART residency will be open until May  5th.

Artist: Pavel Rotts
Curator: Kerly Ritval
Wall text: Margaret Tali
Graphic Design: Liselotte Carmelino
Supporters: Finnish Cultural Foundation, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, NART, Narva Museum, Wienerberger Estonia.