Leviathan: the Paljassaare Chapter is open from September 19th to November 8th, 2020.


Find the exhibition guide here.


For this iteration of his expansive multimedia project Leviathan – exploring the links between climate change, migration and mental health – acclaimed artist Shezad Dawood imagines the future of a connected Baltic and Kent shoreline in a new, cutting-edge virtual reality work. This VR film is accompanied by a series of site-responsive collaborations with Estonian scientists, ornithologists, historians, musicians and artists that respond to the ecological, political and historical context of the Paljassaare peninsula which is situated across from Kai Art Center.


The exhibition premieres The Terrarium (2020), a virtual reality experience that takes the viewer 300 years into the future, where 90% of the planet’s surface has become covered by water. Traversing Baltic ecosystems, viewers will meet organisms that have survived or evolved through genetic mutations due to a changed climate. Book your individual VR experience here.


Above water, visitors will be immersed in the Estonian recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux by Peep Lassmann, a soundscape evocative of the nearby Paljassaare, which has transformed into a bird-watching haven resulting from the evolving military and industrial use of the land.


A major new textile work commissioned by Kai Art Center, entitled Coastal Artillery Battery, Paljassaare (1915) alludes to Paljassaare’s shifting landscape. It was made in collaboration with Tallinn-based smart-textiles designer Kärt Ojavee and students at the Estonian Academy of Arts, who are pioneering an algae-based dyeing technique with locally sourced marine biomaterial.


A new sculpture by Dawood will be in dialogue with research images by biodiversity specialist Dr Kai Künnis-Beres, alongside material contributions by Kärt Ojavee and Triin Loosaar, signalling unexpected entanglements across human and non-human ecologies.


A public programme of site-responsive walks, events and special screenings will accompany the exhibition, with details and dates to be announced soon on the Kai website. 


Shezad Dawood

With contributions from Kärt Ojavee, Joonas Plaan, Peep Lassmann, ecoLogicStudio, Robert Treufeldt, Kai Künnis-Beres, Sten Lassmann, Lennart Lennuk, Graham Fitkin, Triin Loosaar, Annika Kaldoja, Katarina Kruus & Ann Müürsepp.


Co-curated by: Inês Geraldes Cardoso, Karin Laansoo & Triin Metsla


Curator’s tour in English, lead by Inês Geraldes Cardoso will take place on Saturday, September 19th at 2pm.


Kai Art Center is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12pm to 7pm. Ticket prices are 8€/5€, and on Wednesdays admission is at the discounted price of 5€ for everyone. You can get tickets at Kai Art Center or purchase them in advance. Tickets and individual VR experience booking info can be found here.


Group exhibition tours are also available by appointment — write to info@kai.center if you are interested.


Shezad Dawood works across diverse media to ask key questions of narrative, history and embodiment, and his practice often involves collaboration and knowledge exchange, mapping across multiple audiences and communities. Dawood was born in London and trained at Central St Martin’s and the Royal College of Art before undertaking a PhD at Leeds Metropolitan University. He is a Senior Research Fellow in Experimental Media at the University of Westminster. He lives and works in London. His recent solo exhibitions include New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2020), Bluecoat Liverpool (2019); MOCA Toronto (2019); FriezeLIVE, London (2019); Kunstverein, Munich (2019); A Lost Future: Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2018); Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice (2017); Timothy Taylor, London (2016); Pioneer Works, Brooklyn (2015). Group exhibitions include: Lahore Biennial (2020), Dhaka Art Summit (2020), Sharjah Biennial 14, UAE (2019) – Jury Prize for Encroachments; Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea (2018); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2016). Selected collections include Tate; UBS; LACMA, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Canada; Government Art Collection, UK; US Government Art Collection and The British Museum, London.


Leviathan is Shezad Dawood’s major multifaceted project, which raises awareness of the most urgent issues of our time: climate change, migration and mental health. Inaugurated in Venice in May 2017, the project comprises a 10-part film cycle, sculptures, paintings, neon, and virtual reality works. The project is developed by Dawood in dialogue with a wide range of marine biologists, oceanographers, political scientists, philosophers, neurologists and trauma specialists, who contribute to an extensive public programme and research archive, available on leviathan-cycle.com (follow the journey on social media: @leviathancycle).


The Terrarium is the latest virtual reality to come out of this expansive body of work, commissioned for Kai Art Center and Creative Folkestone Triennial by UP Projects. It will be presented as part of the next iteration of the Creative Folkestone Triennial, UK in 2021.


The exhibition is supported by Creative Folkestone Triennial 2021, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn Culture Department, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Embassy of Estonia London & UP Projects


Thank you to Kadi Adrikorn, Keiu Krikmann, Andrus Ojavee, Siim Ojavee, Precious Plastic Estonia, Krista Rambak-Krull, Kerli Praks, Juulika Roos, Johanna Ulfsak, Juhan Ulfsak


Exhibition assistant: Jila Svičević

Installation: Tehnical Director (Tõnu Narro, Mihkel Lember)
Exhibition team: Kadri Laas, Kadi-Ell Tähiste
Graphic design: Henri Kutsar


Special thanks to Hartwall Original Long Drink & Tridens, Põhjala brewery


For international press inquiries please contact Alexia Menikou.

For Estonian press inquiries please contact Kadi-Ell Tähiste.