1. "Your picture saved my life, you know..."
Aili Vint: One day, when I was painting stony and translucent water, I suddenly received shocking news that a young acquaintance of mine had taken her own life. While painting the picture, I remember wondering whether this profound angst I felt at the time would remain trapped in that picture.
Years later I received an answer. A complete stranger came up to me, started scolding me for no longer painting the sea.Then she went on, searching for words:You saved my life, you know… She told me that she had wanted to end her life, to give herself to the sea. But a friend took her to the Kadriorg Art Museum to see one of my seascapes. The painting had mesmerized her, calling her back again and again. It offered her unaccountable consolation, until it finally calmed her down. This painting was The Stony Sea.
Aili Vint THE STONY SEA 1975, oil on canvas, 92 x 115 cm, Kumu Art Museum, Estonia
2. The prime force of the Sea
I can’t forget the day when the ferry Estonia went down on the Baltic Sea and 852 people died with it. There was no electricity in my summer house and I was oblivious to the catastrophe. When I went to the beach to watch the storm, I couldn’t understand what had happened to my Sea. The Sea was beside itself, disturbed and disheveled. As if trying to find something, but not able to - and in agony because of it. The Sea sighed and groaned alternately, in a murky brownish tone I had never seen before, and jaggedly broken waves.
Aili Vint. PRIME FORCE II, 2018 , digital collage from my works:
SEA UNDER THE DARK SKY, 1975, oil on canvas 92 x 115 cm +
RAGE, 1970, gouache painting 35 x 30 cm
The Sea was exhausted, but still unable to subside. Only just before sunset a big dark wall of clouds came in and drew its heavy reflection over the water like a blanket - and the Sea calmed down somewhat. In the evening when I went to get some milk from a neighboring farm, I learned why the sea had been in anguish. She was seeking forgiveness.
MOURNING 1969, gouache painting, 75 x 63 cm
I felt hurt, when a year later, riding a bus on the Pirita coastal road, I heard a female voice sigh to herself: I hate that sea, and saw the woman turn her back to it. Yet the Sea was so calm and serene that day. So gentle. At the next stop I got off the bus and apologized to the Sea... The Sea is The Sea is The Sea.
Aili Vint PALE SEA 1975, oil on canvas, 92 x 115 cm, Kumu Art Museum, Estonia
3."We are looking for the river!" 1987, environmental happening in Estonia
The Phosphorite War is the name given to a late 1980-ses in Northern Estonia, planned by the Moscow government. The movement, peaking in 1987, was successful in achieving its immediate goals, but is also regarded as a catalyst that led to the destabilization and dissolution of the Soviet regime in 1991
Aili Vint: It was a cold winter day when we heard that Soviet geologists and high government officials were holding a phosphorite-mining conference near the Keila-Joa falls. We were a group of artists, musicians, writers, and intellectuals and we decided to demonstrate our opposition to the Soviet Union's mining of phosphorite in Estonia by by creating some magic. We decided to unite fire and water at the falls! What right do they have to come and dig up our land! We'll show them how we feel!We bought all the candles we could and headed for Keila-Joa. The falls were frozen into magnificent Ionian columns! We placed the lit candles into our footprints in the deep snow. As the footprints filled with pulsating light they looked like welcoming lamps in the twilight. It seemed as if they had a life of their own. We had enough candles for the frozen river under the falls, the top of the falls, and even the snowy banks. It was quite a sight in the gathering blue dusk! We stood in awe and deep silence. Suddenly the silence was broken when a Russian border-guard came and yelled at us demanding to know what we were doing. We answered: we are looking for the river!We decided to crash the final banquet of the conference and tell the Moscow officials (straight-faced) that they were under arrest and must come with us. We drove them to the falls. As we approached we could see the enchanting glow of all the candles reflected on the frozen falls. One of the officials fell to his knees and kissed my hand saying he had never seen anything so beautiful created by people in nature! On the ride back to the conference we let them know why we were so opposed to the mining project. They said they understood but were only following the government's policies. But one of them whispered to me: your only hope is to keep opposing! So we kept opposing. And won!