Group T

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In Estonia, before the 90s there were no themes in art criticism except formalist concerns, such as how the paint was dripping on a canvas. The only issues to contextualize the making of art were questions of national identity. And the freshest trends in late 1980s Estonian art - neo-expressionist painting and ritualistic performances, which both relied heavily on mythological allusions - made a perfect match with the nationalist project of searching for the roots of a newly claimed national identity. As a counter-project, bouncing away from this monotonous background, Group T did their Guide to Intronomadism. Although it was planned as a grand exhibition in the Tallinn Art Hall, a prestigious venue, the project was actually carried out as series of performances and live events taking place every afternoon for two weeks. Behind the rhetoric introduced through this project, we could recognize the handwriting of Hasso Krull, the philosopher and post-structuralist thinker of the 90s. In his creative application, the Deleuzian themes of "nomadism" and "rhizome" were offered as an alternative to "the national" and "the search-for-the-roots". At the time, the leading figures of Group T - Raoul Kurvitz, Urmas Muru and Peeter Pere - were highly concerned with their "bodies without organs". Since nobody then had heard of the liberties granted by "The Thousand Plateaus", these artists probably sounded as if they had invented their own language. Most of the art critics, at least at the private moments when they could allow themselves to be a little bit lost, probably thought of Group T as a lounge of upgraded Freemasonry. Group T was already a collective of great importance, having introduced several previously unknown discourses since 1987. One of their characteristics, which has remained influential, is their strategy of distancing themselves from their own accomplishments in changing the art scene. As soon as they noticed a group of followers growing too large, they shifted their position and claimed that they had never had anything to do with the theme they had introduced. Indeed, they were tongue-in-cheek pop stars. From 1986 to 1996, Group T went through several mutations: they did neosymbolic paintings in the manner of trans-avant-garde installations with Beuysian allusions, performances mixing Gothic Rock imagery with ritualistic body art, a public image campaign in which they changed their masks in the media, experiments in public television and transcontinental satellite TV performances and post-minimalist and neoconceptual traces that marked a fatally distancing subjectivity. In 1994 they enjoyed their broadest influence during the Inexistent Art exhibition curated by Urmas Muru. They totally dissolved to the themes inspired by "The Face" rather than those of Artforum. After that they ceased to exist. [1]