Marge Monko

© 2020

Free Love, 2013. 3 facsimiles 575 x 420 mm, 1 postcard 105 x 148 mm, 10 pigment prints 750 x 500 mm
The starting point of the project was a story published in the daily newspaper Postimees (A Postman) in Tartu, Estonia, January 31, 1905. In this article, which belonged to the series titled Free Love, Jaan Tõnisson, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, mentioned the case of schoolgirls, who, having once participated in the meeting of Russian socialist’ students, practiced liberal relations with those young men. In the context of Tõnisson's article, 'free love' is treated as some kind of new fashion caused by women’s liberation and distribution of socialist ideas. Describing the event, Tõnisson mentioned that some liberal women tend to cut their hair short and used the expression 'brown-skirts', making direct reference to the uniform of Pushkin Gymnasium for Girls, one of the first secular schools for young women in Tartu at that time. The group of girls that was referred to in the article consisted of activists who were later expelled from the school because of their political activity.

The article caused a small scandal in the city, resulting in mock ads on the last page of the newspaper where brown skirts and short hair was mentioned.

The work consists of excerpts from the original article published in Postimees, of a vintage postcard depicting the school building of Pushkin Gymnasium for Girls, as well as of the photo panel depicting female graduates at the graduation ceremony in two schools in Tartu.
Installation view. Mumok, Vienna. 2013. Photo: Lena Deinhardstein