Cultural Endowment of Estonia in architecture / annual award 2021 nominee
Marie Kliiman, Kadri Lind, and every year the corresponding team
Fotomorgaana, Saara Tõugjas


Cities today tend to exhibit their cliched features fitting the mainstream tastes and qualifying for quick acknowledgment. However, well-functioning cities are actually filled with immense diversity where values and people creating the variations can be overshadowed by the more easily perceptible phenomena. The first urban festival was organised in 2013. As I have lived in Tartu since 2011, in my eyes UIT has always been an integral part of the city. We sometimes hear people talk about Tartu as a student-owned seasonal settlement hibernating in summer or as a work-shy city roaming in slow motion, but I see Tartu as a city bustling with life all year round, with its compactness and variations making it a place where everything is efficient and never boring. An important role here is played by UIT and its power to feature and revive the abundance of the potentials of the city’s diversity. It is a festival that is not afraid of change and never relies on nostalgia, but luckily it is not a gentrifying engine either with its every visit leaving behind increased market value.
Tõnis Arjus, Tartu city architect

It is an international site-specific art festival organised in Tartu since 2013 with the aim of encouraging communication between residents and their living environment, providing alternative spatial perspectives and creating site-specific art. Usually taking place in August, the four-day urban art festival became biennial in 2017.

UIT is interested in how we perceive and use the urban space, relying on interdisciplinary cooperation with local and foreign artists in order to allow the audience to see the city from another perspective. The festival encourages people to enjoy public spaces and think about the various possibilities that we have to make our cities cosier and more versatile. One of the aims of the festival is to draw people’s attention to various spatial and social elements and layers in the city that we might otherwise overlook.

The festival programme includes works that consider or grow out of the urban space: installations, performances, concerts, city tours and games, together with various activities for children. In the past years, an important role in the installation programme has been played by the open competition allowing also young students or artists try their hand at spatial projects.

UIT allows to revive those places in Tartu that have not seen any life for decades or would not even tolerate life for too long – abandoned buildings or areas that can’t keep up with the modern life. Breathing new life into these areas for a while notionally expands the city and encourages also the observers to dream.

About the programme in 2021:

The seventh festival was held in August 2021 with the focus on parasite architecture. In the installation project called Urban Parasite, artists explored the city from the so-called parasite’s perspective looking for new ways of life in the conditions of deficient or surplus spaces.

The participating artists: Varvara & Mar (EE/ES), Flo Kasearu & Andra Aaloe (EE), Eva Mustonen (EE), NOMAD architects (LV), Fernando Abellanas (ES), Nuno Pimenta (PT), Raiviobumann (FI), Arhitektuurikool and the winners of the open competition Iiris Toom (EE) and Roland Seer & Carol Schults (EE).

The next festival will be held in August 2023.

Marie Kliiman