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Exhibition "Recycling. Chinatown"

A photo exhibition portraying recycling in Tartu Chinatown.

An analogue photography exhibition "Recycling. Chinatown" depicting the recycling of materials in Chinatown at the Jaamamõisa district in Tartu, is open until the end of April. All the frames at the exhibition are received as a donation from various individuals and companies that supported the idea of an exhibition about recycling. The author of the exhibition is Kerly Ilves, who began taking pictures of a peculiar city garden area in the summer of 2014.

The exhibition presents 22 black and white photographs printed on canvas. The author used an analogue camera to take photos, developed photos and scanned them as photo files from which the art photos on the exhibition were printed. The project, which is still ongoing, has been featured once before when a selection of Chinatown mood photos that portrayed a photographer as a secret observer were presented in the series "The Walls Have Eyes" and hopefully a larger amount of photos will eventually be a part of the book.

The research object of the exhibition is recycling in Chinatown. Over the years, garden-keepers have used skillfully all that has come to hand, whether it be a curtain rod, a barbed wire, a spring bed or a car bonnet. All these objects have been used to build doors, gardens, booths, greenhouses and charred wooden plates have also been used. The additional value of the exhibition is that all the frames are received as donations from six companies and individuals who are supporting this art project.

The idea of taking pictures of the Chinatown came from the desire to capture something special in the artist's hometown Tartu, something that is soon outdated and probably lost during the upcoming years. Kerly Ilves believes that the best way to capture the situation of the Chinatown region is to stay in the background as an observer. The latter is supported by the calm and time-consuming process of taking analogue photos, and hopefully, the exhibition photos will present this feeling.

With the exhibition, the author hopes to draw a positive attention to the Chinatown's spontaneous city garden area with the desire to introduce this nice and exciting place hoping that more people will find it and the continuous illegal garbage dropping would stop. Chinatown is not ugly and scary, but rather a contact with nature in the city area and an opportunity to experience the cooperation of nature and man. The new gardeners could create their own spaces there and the plan of building a new road should not be carried out.

The exhibition came to life thanks to the Cultural Endowment of Tartu, Tartu St John's Church, the store Täitsa Kantav, and to Lilian Lukka who donated dozens of frames, to Janar Ilves, to the invaluable help and guidance of Arp Karm, and to other book donators, Kadri Vaher, Kristina Kurm, Nele Ambos and to Tartu Re-use Centre. The exhibition will remain open until April 28, 2018, every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and all photos can be bought on request.

Kerly Ilves is a freelance photographer with a long-time experience, whose main creative research topics include capturing what is vanishing, capturing changes that have come to life through longer-term processes, and photographic experiments with various cameras.

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