29.05-15.08.2021 | Kai Art Center

The main exhibition of the triennial “Translucency” was an international contemporary craft exhibition, curated by Danish glass artist and art historian Stine Bidstrup. The exhibition included around twenty artists, a quarter of them from Estonia.

Stine Bidstrup on the curatorial concept:

When light encounters a material, it can interact with it in several different ways. In the field of optics, transparency is the physical property of allowing light to pass through a material without being scattered. Materials that do not transmit light are called opaque.

Translucency allows light to pass through a material diffusely. It does not follow the laws of straightforward-ness.
When humans encounter materials, we interact with them in several different ways. We perceive and understand materials for their particular physical qualities, and materials act back on us through metaphysical figures; the fictive qualities we inevitably ascribe to them.

An example of this is the modernist desire for – and ambivalence about – transparency. For example, in the material form of glass and its ascribed promise of clarity, openness, and transcendence, which at the same time offers the possibility for observation and surveillance. More often than not – in architecture or politics or elsewhere – it is a sign of opacity, of not being able to see what is really going on. Looking in and looking out does not take place on equal grounds – transparency on the surface can, in fact, hide hermetic power structures and hierarchies. However, opacity, too, can be of value and at times, truly necessary.

The 2021 Tallinn Applied Art Triennial highlights the creative and critical potential of translucency. Depending on the context, translucency can reveal what is hidden or conceal what is seemingly visible. It is neither one nor the other, but can be approached as a metastable state, full of potential energy from which a structured process can arise. It is not dichotomous; it is a chiastic movement through pluralities and nuances of visibility and lack thereof. It is becoming rather than being.”

Curator: Stine Bidstrup
Merle Kasonen, Anu Almik, Katre Ratassepp, Keiu Krikmann, Maret Sarapu
Design: Kärt Maran
Graphic design: Marje Eelma, Martin Eelma (Tuumik Stuudio)
Installation: Tõnu Narro, Mihkel Lember


Stine Bidstrup is a Danish glass artist, educator and art historian whose work and research explores optical phenomena, and interprets and brings ideas about utopian, architectural visions to life through glass sculptures, installation and video.

Her curiosity revolves around the power of perception and power of context and point of view in constructing our understanding through vision and how the human eye and mind are always engaged in myriad determinations and negotiations. By initiating active ways of looking, and fusing this with spatial and tactile experiences, she creates works that do not only envelop the eye and touch of the viewer, but also interject into cultural layers of memories and events.

Bidstrup holds art degrees from The Rhode Island School of Design and The Royal Danish Academy of Art School of Design, and a degree in art history from The University of Copenhagen. She has taught in Denmark and internationally, since 2007 at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, School of Design, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and at several summer programs including Pilchuck Glass School and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

She maintains a studio in Copenhagen, goes to Småland Sweden to blow glass, and is represented by Heller Gallery in New York and FUMI Gallery in London. In 2018 Bidstrup joined the exhibition council at the Glass Museum Ebeltoft, and in 2019 she was awarded the 3-year work grant from The Danish Art Foundation.


Linda Aasaru (Estonia), Andrew Bearnot (USA), Erin Dickson (UK), Ditte Hammerstrøm (Denmark), Heidi Bach Hentze (Denmark), Sandra Kosorotova (Estonia), Eeva Käsper (Estonia), Julia Maria Künnap (Estonia), Helen Lee (USA), Jiyong Lee (USA), Eve Margus-Villems (Estonia), Reinoud Oudshoorn (Netherlands), Julija Pociute (Lithuania), Helena Tuudelepp (Estonia), Sandra Vaka (Norway), Hanna-Maria Vanaküla (Estonia), Sissi Westerberg (Sweden), Karlyn Sutherland (UK), Grethe Sørensen (Denmark) and Wang & Söderström (Sweden/Denmark).

Photos: Hedi Jaansoo