Arvo Pärt Centre exhibition exploring Arvo Pärt’s journey as an artist


On 1 July the Arvo Pärt Centre will open the exhibition “When you seek from almost nothing”, which will for the first time present the thoughts recorded in Arvo Pärt’s diaries to a wider audience. With its first permanent exhibition, the centre continues the series of events dedicated to Arvo Pärt’s 85th birthday.

The exhibition takes visitors on a journey into Arvo Pärt’s thoughts, to become acquainted with decades of the composer’s reflections on silence, the word and sound. These are the concepts Pärt delved into when seeking his own language of sound. They are the cornerstones in defining his creative technique, tintinnabuli, and have provided him food for thought on his creative journey until the present day.

“While it is generally known that Arvo Pärt does not like to talk about his music in words, saying that “sound is his word”, we can see in his diaries that the inward-looking word, intense internal speech, has been important in his creative process and is closely intertwined with sound,” explains Kristina Kõrver, one of the curators of the exhibition.

“This is the very first time that these personal reflections, kept private until now, are presented to readers on such a scale. This has required a lot of soul searching and courage from the composer to share this material,” said Kai Kutman, exhibition curator.

The exhibition charts his becoming a composer, taking visitors across a time and space that covers almost half a century, following the footsteps of Arvo Pärt’s creative quest. Arvo Pärt has said: “What is the cost of a sound or a word? What is my relationship to every one of the little dots I make on the sheet music?” Every composer may be faced with similar questions, when they have blank sheet music in front of them. They start searching over and over again from the very beginning, “as if from almost nothing”. On the other hand, self-preparation – self-reduction, purification of one’s soul and striving for a humble mind – are important prerequisites for Arvo Pärt’s creative process. “First of all, you must make yourself nothing. There has to be silence. You must make peace with your powerlessness. And that which is then given is like a gift.”

The exhibition “When you seek from almost nothing” is designed as a spatial installation where the word born from silence and music alternately allow each other time.

“To counterbalance the frequent environment of noise and activity in our daily life, the exhibition provides an opportunity to focus on only one thing at a time, but also to experience the alternation of different states and their impact on each other. Through light, words emerge from silence and then recede to silence again. It is as though someone were thinking and writing these thoughts at that very moment, giving them time to come, reflecting on them and then letting them go again,” says curator Kai Kutman describing the formal solution of the exhibition.
She adds that the reflections presented to us will certainly shed light on many aspects of the composer’s work and help us understand it.

The curators of the exhibition are Kai Kutman, Kristina Kõrver and Aile Tooming, the artist is Angelika Schneider and the technical realisation is courtesy of TM Development. The speakers are from Estelon; technical preparation of the music is by Doug Maskew. The exhibition was translated into English by Adam Cullen and Marrit and Nikita Andrejev.

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