Fourth exhibition of the project Artists in Collections — “Writings on the Wall. Kodavere Outhouse” by Jaanus Samma in Liiv Museum

Jaanus Samma exhibits in the threshing barn of the Liiv Museum the outhouse found on the premises of the Kodavere church. The messages and names written on its walls tell us stories of the history of the village and its habitants in the beginning of the 20th century. The salvaged outhouse has therefore unexpectedly become a research object and the written messages on the walls a historical source. Choosing the home farm of one of the most beloved poets Juhan Liiv and his brother Jakob was not at all coincidental. They both attended the Kodavere parish school and Juhan also wrote short pieces in local dialect.

If the walls could talk, what would they say? Graffiti researcher Rainer Vilumaa points out the characteristic location of latrinalia (toilet graffiti) as one interesting trait: „The peculiarity of the toilet as regards to graffiti research lies in its nature of being a no man’s land, in the schism between public and personal that manifests itself in it, and in how this schism is symbolically overcome – being alone in your intimate space but also publicly communicating with others who will at one point also consider this their intimate space.”

Latrinalia is not just a phenomenon of the modern time. The multi-volume collection of poetic-humorous scribbles found on the walls of public institutions, published in England in 1731 under the pseudonym Hurlo Thrumbo, confirms this. We can even go back in time to findings from antique cultures or also include cave drawings.

Jaanus Samma has been interested in declarative graffiti for quite some time already and also collects it. In 2012 he started the project Hair Sucks!, a series of handknit jumpers with patterns that are based on the scribbles and pictures with sexual undertones found in the urban space. The project of Kodavere outhouse can be seen as a notional follow-on of that idea.

Exhibition design: Brit Pavelson

Texts: Jaanus Samma, Hilkka Hiiop, Maari Hinsberg, Andreas Kalkun

Thank you: Mari Niitra, Raigo Ojamets, Hilkka Hiiop, Juhan Kilumets, Evi Treial, Virve Jõgeva, Ann Kilk, Ella Viirmaa, Lehte Vene, Elli Kask, Enn Kurs, Anne and Karl Elken, Koit Randmäe, Andreas Kalkun, Martin Rünk, Maari Hinsberg, Johanna Lamp, Kaarel Eelma, Cultural Endowment of Estonia


Jaanus Samma (1982)

… earned a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts and a master’s degree in Fine Arts from Estonian Academy of Arts, he also continued his education in France on several occasions. At the moment he is obtaining a doctoral degree from Estonian Academy of Arts. His most well-known project, “Not Suitable For Work. A Chairman’s Tale”, that represented Estonia at the Venice biennale, narrates a story not yet told in the common approach to history, about the persecution of gay people during the Soviet occupation. Many of Samma’s works are also related to the subjective sense of the urban space. He uses mediums of contemporary art in his work, from installations and videos to jewelry and knitwear. In 2013 Samma was awarded the Köler Prize Grand Prix as well as the audience award for contemporary art. Since 2017 he is one of the artists receiving the artist’s salary.


Liiv Museum

The permanent exhibition “If I were a Poet” in Liiv Museum in the birthplace of Juhan Liiv gives a thorough overview of the poet’s life and works. In the outdoor exhibition we can learn about the writer’s home, Oja farm, and about the life of the Estonian peasants at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum’s permanent exhibition “Kodavere – a Good Big Chunk of Parish” introduces the past of the area and different cultures: the Kodavere dialect, Vadja heritage, the local Russian Orthodox community and Baltic German nobility. Every spring a student poetry reading competition for poems displaying Liiv-like spirit is held and the winner is awarded the Juhan Liiv Poetry Prize. Liiv Museum is also known for its festival Estonian Writer and summer theatre.


Jaanus Samma’s museum residency took place from 23 April to 4 May 2018. Organizing of the residency was supported by the Cultural Endowment's Tartu expert group.

Photos of the visit to the museum in winter 2017: