Photo exhibition #kuidasmekestame examines the impact of population changes on the everyday life of Estonians

17. Feb 2019

On the windows of the waiting hall of the Tallinn Balti jaam train station until February 24, photo exhibition #kuidasmekestame will examine, how Estonia willlast for the next 100 years. Renowned photographer Birgit Püve has captured Estonian people and places to illustrate depopulation, ageing, and the changed labour market and its needs.

“Certainly, it’s sad to find out that, for example, a former schoolhouse has now become an elderly care home. It’s a kind of sad and sharp illustration, a symbol of the tendencies that are already threatening us,” Püve describes her emotions from the shooting trips. “Even though life outside the centres often requires more daily effort, the people portrayed have maintained a healthy attitude, openness and love for Estonia,” Püve said.

The photo exhibition #kuidasmekestame was born in cooperation with Open Estonia Foundation, Estonian Cooperation Assembly, Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Estonian Employers’ Confederation, Mainor AS, TalTech, Estonian Service Industry Association, Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations and several volunteers. More information about the exhibition can be found at  #kuidasmekestame Facebook page and about the initiative at 

“Both for the #kuidasmekestame exhibition and the population-themed initiative in a broader sense, I am particularly pleased that we have found a common ground with very diverse organisations.  Although last year the population increased, the long-term forecasts still show a decline over the coming decades. As a result, public services such as healthcare, education, public transport, law enforcement and rescue will suffer in the future. Well-thought-out and effective family policies and smart migration policies are needed already today so that we would be able to maintain our country in the future as well,” noted Mall Hellam, the Executive Director of Open Estonia Foundation.

The photographer: Birgit Püve is a freelance photographer whose works have been shown at personal exhibitions in Estonia, Poland, Russia, Germany and Great Britain, as well as at group exhibitions in Europe and America. Her works have appeared in prestigious publications such as The Guardian, The Washington Post and The New York Times, and she has won international awards from competitions including The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prizein London, LensCulture Exposure Awards in Paris and PDN Photo Annual in New York. For three years, she has been a category winner at the competition by the Estonian Association of Press Photographers – two years in portraits and the latest one in sports.

In her works, she has so far mainly focused on the exploration of memory and identity. For example, Püve has studied the identity of Estonians in the series “Eesti dokumendid” (“Estonian Documents”) and the relationship of the residents of Vao refugee accommodation centre with the new unknown environment surrounding them in the series “Varjuapaik/Sanctuary”. In addition to exhibition projects, she collaborates with Estonian and foreign publications, and works part-time in the archives of Arvo Pärt Centre

Photos of the exhibition opening on 31.01 (by photographer Aron Urb) can be found here:

A couple of photos from the exhibition by Birgit Püve are here: 

More information:
Mari Roonemaa
Media Manager, Open Estonia Foundation 
+372 56454598