When You Say We Belong To The Light We Belong To The Thunder. Tallinn Photomonth’19



The exhibition opening on Friday 6 September at 6pm is preceded by a series of talks between the curator, artists and researchers at 4pm.

The biennial launch party at EKKM starts at 9pm, followed by a live concert by Seltskond Pargis at 10pm and DJs. – Event in Facebook

The starting point for When You Say We Belong To The Light We Belong To The Thunder – the opening exhibition of Tallinn Photomonth contemporary art biennial – is the question how psychological reactions to climate chaos are influencing real life politics. The display proposes an imaginary study of the notions of ‘owning’ and ‘belonging’ in relation to soil.

While recent decades were marked by the drive to disconnect from physical locations, ideas of place and belonging seem to have seen something of a revival, both in a renewed care for the planet but also in increasingly harsh migration policies. The inquiry focuses on how images regarding the units that we belong to – the world, the nation state, the family – have implications for our level of care.

The title is borrowed from the lyrics of the 1985 pop song We Belong by Pat Benatar. Months after We Belong towered in pop charts in the West, Mikhail Gorbachev announced Perestroika, which made it possible for Estonians to openly protest their belonging to the Soviet Union, and a large ecological movement became the catalyst for Estonian independence. Embedded in local and global research, the exhibition studies the intruding pull of nationalism in relation to ecological concerns.

Exhibition publication available here.

Research contributions: Marika Agu and Francisco Martinez, Konstantinos Doumpenidis, Tanel Rander.

Exhibition design: Kaisa Sööt

Graphic design: Jaan Evart and Ott Kagovere.

Supported by: British Council, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Estonia.


Heidi Ballet is a Belgian independent curator based in Berlin with a background in Chinese Studies and a research interest in oceanic territory. In 2018 she curated Beaufort 2018, a sculpture triennial along the Belgian coast. In 2017, Ballet curated together with Milena Hoegsberg the Lofoten Biennial (LIAF) in northern Norway titled I Taste The Future, a site-specific project with a thematic focus on new ecologies. In 2016, she curated the Satellite exhibition series Our Ocean, Your Horizon at Jeu de Paume Paris and CAPC Bordeaux. Between 2012 and 2015, Ballet worked as a researcher and assistant curator for the Taipei Biennale (2012) and for Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (2013-2015). Before relocating to Berlin, she was gallery director at Jan Mot from 2008 until 2012. Her writing has appeared in Mousse Magazine, Randian and Art Papers.

Image: Jonathas de Andrade, still from the video O Peixe (The Fish), 2016. Courtesy the artist and Galeria Vermelho, São Paolo.