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Fresh from Estonia: “Tartu Street Art”, Zine No 1

Fresh from Estonia: “Tartu Street Art”, Zine No 1

Almost a decade after the Stencibility festival began in Tartu, Estonia, and just in time for the launch of their 2019 program, the first edition zine has been released. Full of images, essays, interviews, and personal experiences of art in the streets in this eastern European city of 93,000, the opening foreword is by co-founder of the festival, who goes by a one name moniker of Sirla, and who serves as editor of the issue along with longtime organizer Kadri Lind.

Championing a pretty straight-forward philosophy toward individual artistic participation in the streets, Stencibility has stayed clear of common commercial pitfalls familiar to festival organizers while espousing a refreshing philosophy of inclusion and participation.

Yes, there are film programs and artists talks, and even tours and “tabling” with educational information, but there is not a discernable “positioning” for sales or branding of those events, keeping them within the realm of social study, urban studies, expression, and possibly self-realization. It helps that Tartu as a city supports the festival, owing as much to its history as a university town as its desire to retain or attract many of the younger population who flooded out of the city in the post-Soviet era.


Aside from Sirla’s reasoned, seasoned and insightful observations and distinctions that help define the Street Art scene locally and trends in international discussions, we’re also excited and intrigued by the ground rules of the Stencilbility manifesto that are printed just inside the zine. It clearly places some civic responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the
artistic intervener:

  1. Public space belongs to everyone who uses it.
  2. It is everyone’s duty to take care of it, like you would your own home
  3. The purpose of street art is to enrich, not deface, public space.
  4. All additions are welcome. If you don’t like it, improve it.
  5. To guarantee ultimate creative freedom, act according to your conscience, not laws and regulations.


Indicative of the open-minded atmosphere that brings illegal art-making in the streets is one of the interviews in the zine with artist Kairo. She spends hours painting electrical boxes with various decorative motifs and styles and has coined her own term to describe her technique as “acryliti“, a blending of the word acrylic and graffiti.

So unconcerned is Kairo about transgressing public/private space with her art practice that half of her street gear is paint and the other half is her baby in a stroller. Not a tagger per se, she’s had her share of late night excursions with two or three others, but that cat-and-mouse game that seems to energize vandals in western countries isn’t on display.


“Actually, there haven’t been as many incidents as maybe I’d like,” she says. “That might just exemplify the special friendly atmosphere of Tartu. The police have never talked to me, only driven by. They have startled me, but never engaged with me directly. And people have asked me with a confused look, why do I do this at night? I answered them, ‘I don’t have time during the day.’”






Tartu Street Art Zine No 1

Editors: Sirla, Kadri Lind

Tartu 2018


Stencibility 2019 line-up

Super excited to announce this year’s line-up. 15 badass street artists will conquer Tartu 18-23.06. Stay tuned 😉 #

Posted by Stencibility on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

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