Sigrid Viir (1979) is a photo and installation artist. Her work often addresses unspoken rules and morals, while also questioning the nature and limitations of the medium of photography. Viir has said that as an artist she values questioning things that are taken to be self-evident and examining behavioural patterns and the self in both a public and private context.
In her earlier work Viir explored unspoken rules, expectations or taboos in society, using the motif of family. In her photo series “Postcard for Grandparents” (2007) the artist examined a social stereotype and also highlighted her own unwillingness to adhere to it. The series, made up of pairs of images that juxtapose, on the one hand, a family sitting on the sofa at home and, on the other, a young woman (embodied by the artist), photographed in the same surroundings. With this Viir pointed to the societal expectation that at a certain age women should start a family. Presenting an alternative perspective was her protest against this expectation.
In 2009, together with Karel Koplimets and Taaniel Raudsepp, Viir founded the artist collective Visible Solutions LLC. The aim of the enterprise was to bring together the operating mechanics of art and economy, find new methods to create symbolic and real capital, and transgress that to the context of the creative economy. One of their more prominent works is performance- and photo-series “Hoisting the Banner”, in which the group members impose a new power relation with their theatrical composition. The banners always include a national flag and the “invisible hand”, referring to the philosopher and economist Adam Smith. In 2012 Visible Solutions LLC participated at the 9th Manifesta Biennial.
In the 2011 Köler Prize nominees exhibition Viir presented an installation and photo series “Routinecrusher, Wanderlust, Tablebear, and so on” (2008–2011). The series included photos exhibited on wooden constructions, that show the hidden behaviour patterns and attitudes revealed when the conventional use of objects is renounced and subverted. With this work Viir questioned existing standards, function and dysfunction.
Viir’s solo show “Awful Pretty Pipe Neck” (Draakoni Gallery, 2016) exhibited installations made of photographs, tiled shelves of various sizes and sculptural objects that question if and how photographs can be autonomous objects and not mere representations. The show was inspired by George Lakoff’s and Mark Johnson’s book “Metaphors We Live By” (2011) and focused on the notion of catachresis in visual art. Catachresis, the clash between two metaphors, is expressed in Viir’s work by combining materials, objects or symbols that do not fit together at first glance.
In spring 2019 Sigrid Viir opened her most extensive solo exhibition to date, titled “False Vacationer” at the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (curated by Maarin Mürk), which focused on the blurred lines between work and vacation. With this exhibition she continued deconstructing norms and rules, examining prevalent attitudes and the sense of uncertainty in contemporary work and leisure culture.
Sigrid Viir graduated from the Department of Photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts (BA 2009) but she has also studied at the media art programme at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in Germany (2007–2008). In 2009 she received the Young Artist Award from the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Eduard Wiiralt scholarship, in 2011 she was nominated for the Köler Prize, in 2012 she was awarded with a prize at the PULSE Art Fair and in 2012 and 2020 she received the Annual Art Award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment. Viir is one of the founding members of Visible Solutions LLC. Viir’s works belong to the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia and Carousel. She is one of the recipients of the artist salary 2021–2023.