Revising Postsocialism

The First Post-Soviet Generation in the Estonian Art Field


  • Francisco Martínez



Eastern Europe, Youth cultures, Postsocialism, Generational memory, Children of freedom, Area Studies


This article reflects on the current explanatory value of concepts such as postsocialism and Eastern Europe by exploring how they are represented in contemporary art projects in Estonia. Through an overview of recent exhibitions in which I collaborated with local artists and curators, the research considers generational differences in relation to cultural discourses of the postsocialist experience. Methodologically, artists and curators were not simply my informants in the field, but makers of analytical knowledge themselves in their practice. Exhibitions were also approached as contact zones, whereby new cultural forms are simultaneously reflected and constructed. Critically, this inquiry gathers new ways of representing and conceptualising cultural changes in Estonia and novel perspectives of interpreting the relations to the Soviet past. The focus is put on art practice because of its capacity of bringing together global and local frames of reference simultaneously. The research also draws attention to the inbetweenness of the first post-Soviet generation (those born near the time of the breakup of the USSR); they are revising established cultural forms as well as historical representations through mixing practices, and therefore updating traditional ideas of identity and attachment to places.

Author Biography

Francisco Martínez

Francisco Martínez is a Lecturer in the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester. Before, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki and also at Aalto University. Francisco sits in several editorial boards, is the co-editor of the Berghahn book series ‘Politics of Repair’, and has published several books – including Repair, Brokenness, Breakthrough: Ethnographic Responses (Berghahn, 2019), Politics of Recuperation in Post-Crisis Portugal (Bloomsbury, 2020), and Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia (UCL Press, 2018). Likewise, he has curated different exhibitions – including ‘Objects of Attention’ (Estonian Museum of Applied Art & Design, 2019). In 2018, Francisco was awarded with the Early Career Prize of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. 


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How to Cite

Martínez, F. (2021) “Revising Postsocialism: The First Post-Soviet Generation in the Estonian Art Field”, Culture Unbound, 13(2), pp. 38–62. doi: 10.3384/cu.1839.