Mare Tralla [aka Disgusting Girl] (*1971), is an Estonian-born artist who lives and works in London and Tallinn. Her professional career started in the early 1990s and was shaped by the rapid changes in Estonian society, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her works are often a direct critical response to those changes and their effects on women. “In the mid-1990s she was amongst the few courageous women (and men) who understood that, for the more harmonious and just development of Estonian society, a ‘small feminist revolution’ was direly needed. Mare conceived of this ‘revolution’ in a personal format within the field of contemporary art” (Katrin Kivimaa). In 1995, Tralla, Eha Komissarov and Reet Varblane curated the first openly feminist Estonian art exhibition Est.Fem. Her often self-ironic artworks question the place and role of women in our societies and how women from Eastern Europe are perceived in the Western world. Her recent works deal with issues of privacy, surveillance and protection from a gendered perspective. In her practice, Tralla employs and combines a variety of media – from painting, photography, performance and video to interactive media.
Feltboots is an illustration of an anecdote from Mare Tralla’s childhood. The so- called Armenian Radio (an institution in Soviet political jokes) was asked the question: “Why do Russians wear felt boots?” The answer given was “To silently sneak past the Americans”. This bothered the artist a great deal. How did they do it? She remembered thinking at the time of a fantasy image, which totally excluded the notion of the Cold War. She was about seven years old when she heard the anecdote. In her video Feltboots Tralla acts out this fantasy image in the streets of Columbus, Ohio, and quietly sneaks past the Americans in her soft Soviet felt boots. Produced at Crossing Over 5, Wexner Center, Columbus Ohio, USA
Courtesy Mare Tralle