A photo exhibition examines the impact of population changes in Estonia

A photo exhibition that examines how Estonia will last for the next one hundred years with a declining population has opened at the Baltic Station, the central train station in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

The exhibition #kuidasmekestame (“how we will last”) depicts images taken by renowned Estonian photographer, Birgit Püve, who has captured Estonian people and places to illustrate depopulation, ageing and the changed labour market and its needs.

“Certainly, it’s sad to find out that, for example, a former schoolhouse has now become an elderly care home. It’s a kind of sad and sharp illustration, a symbol of the tendencies that are already threatening us,” Püve said in a statement. “Even though life outside the centres often requires more daily effort, the people portrayed have maintained a healthy attitude, openness and love for Estonia.”

A declining population

The exhibition was initiated by several Estonian organisations and NGOs out of concern for the future of Estonia and its demographics.

Mall Hellam, the executive director of the Open Estonia Foundation, one of the organisations involved, said in a statement that although in 2018, the population of Estonia increased, the long-term forecasts still show a decline over the coming decades. “As a result, public services, such as health care, education, public transport, law enforcement and rescue will suffer in the future. Well-thought-out and effective family policies and smart migration policies are needed already today so that we will be able to maintain our country in the future as well,” she said.

Birgit Püve is a freelance photographer whose works have been shown at exhibitions in Estonia, Germany, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Her works have also appeared in global publications such as the Guardian, the Washington Post and the New York Times, and she has won international awards from competitions, including the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in London, the LensCulture Exposure Awards in Paris and the PDN Photo Annual in New York.

In her works, Püve mainly focuses on the exploration of memory and identity.

More information about the exhibition can be found at #kuidasmekestame Facebook page. The exhibition is open until 24 February.

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Images by Birgit Püve.

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and politics and society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.