Open call for the exposition of the Estonian pavilion at the 59th International Venice Biennale


Deadline for the first round of submissions: 20 March 2020, at 12.00 (Estonian time)
Compared to previous years, the conditions of the open call have been updated. In order to encourage a higher number of applicants to submit exhibition projects, decrease artists’ workload involved in participating in the competition, and simplify the process of application, the competition for the 2021 Estonian pavilion includes two rounds and artists and curators have the opportunity to submit their proposals independently. The artist is not required to have a previous agreement with a specific curator, we also encourage individuals to present their ideas.
In the first round we invite artists and/or curators to submit an informal letter of motivation that briefly discloses the motivation behind wanting to participate at the Estonian Pavilion of the 59th Venice Biennale, highlighting and elaborating on themes suggested for the Estonian exposition (the potential theme of the exhibition project and its central idea) and introducing the applicant’s practice.
Based on letters of motivation and portfolios the jury chooses and invites two to four applicants or groups into the second round who will then have the opportunity to expand on their idea and within the following month, submit a more extensive exhibition project, presenting a detailed description of the proposed exhibition and artworks. The second round of the competition includes a fee.
In the second round the jury compares the expanded projects and, according to assessment criteria (see below), chooses the proposal that will be developed into an exhibition at the Estonian pavilion in collaboration with Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art, with a possibility to widen the exhibition team, if so required by the project.
Both rounds of the competition are confidential, names of the applicants and applications are not disclosed to the public, only the winning project for the exposition at the pavilion is announced publicly.
Conditions of the competition:
The first round welcomes informal proposals from both individuals and groups.
The applicant must be a natural person. At least one of the applicants must be an Estonian citizen or resident.
Since the jury is international, we kindly ask all written materials to be presented in English.
For the first round a letter of motivation no shorter than 3600 characters (but no longer than 6000 characters) must be submitted to introduce the potential theme and the central idea of the exhibition project. Artist’s portfolio containing a selection of projects from at least the past five years must be submitted as well. Should the applicant wish to do so, preliminary designs for artworks for the exhibition also may be submitted.
In the second round expanded exhibition projects, chosen from applications submitted to the first round, are reviewed. When submitting the project to the second round all applicants must provide a signature to confirm accepting the responsibility of carrying out the project.
All materials for the first round must be submitted to the Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art (post [at] or Vabaduse väljak 6, Tallinn) no later than 20.03.2020 at 12.00.
Projects are reviewed by an international jury. The members of the jury are confirmed at the first opportunity, but no later than the deadline for the first round of applications, and listed on the CCA’s website. The members of the jury and related persons are not allowed to take part in the competition.
Assessment criteria:
Relevance of the proposed idea within the context of contemporary art
Uniqueness, consistency and comprehensiveness of the project
International relevance and potential for captivating an international audience
Project’s contribution to Estonian art field
Previous professional experience of participating parties
Feasibility of the project (in budget and in scope)
Legal relationships:
The CCA is the chief organiser of the Estonian exposition at the Venice Biennale. The CCA’s team is responsible for the administrative and technical execution of the exposition and substantially participates in developing the project.
The relationship between artist, curator and the CCA is established with a contract detailing the rights and obligations of parties.
The CCA only publicly announces the winner(s) of the competition and the winning project together with jury’s comment, the identities and projects of other participants are confidential.
The winning project is executed in collaboration with the CCA. As the chief organiser, the CCA has the right to make suggestions to develop the project and propose involving additional partners within the limits of the budget.
The CCA has the right to make changes to the details of executing the project, as far as the changes are objectively justified or relating to circumstances not dependent on the CCA’s actions.
All submitted applications are provisionally reviewed. If necessary, the CCA asks the applicants for additional materials or further details regarding submitted materials to be submitted within two working days.
We recommend submitting applications as early as possible for preliminary consultations and for submitting necessary additions in a timely manner. The CCA will soon hold a public briefing regarding the competition. Late submissions are not accepted! The winning project is announced in the end of May 2020.
The Venice Biennale is the oldest and the most extensive international art event in the world. Estonia has participated with a national pavilion since 1997. The Estonian exposition is commissioned by Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art. Estonia’s participation at the Venice Biennale is funded by Estonian Ministry of Culture. The 59th Venice Biennale takes place between May and November 2021.
Questions and additional information:
Maria Arusoo
Commissioner of the Estonian pavilion at the Venice Biennale
E-mail: maria [at]
Press contact:
Kaarin Kivirähk
Communication manager at CCA
E-mail:kaarin [at]
Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art
Vabaduse väljak 6
10146 Tallinn
Tel: +372 631 4050
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