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I originally exhibited Flat Field in 2004 in the capital of Tallinn, my last exhibition before moving to America. It is my way of documenting the surrealism and fear of Estonian freedom after the 1991 collapse of the Iron Curtain. I think of it as it as an absurd kind of history and an exaggeration of reality. The Flat Field series is layered with samples of Estonian culture, beliefs, objects, and instincts before our recent entry into the global community. When viewing Flat Field, there should be a sense of earthliness, but in a distant, parallel world. One viewer has described it as, "Adult Dr. Seuss".

Before the Iron Curtain fell, life was good. I read the poems of Lenin, yearned to wear the communist uniform of a Young Pioneer, and sometimes enjoyed the previously chewed gum handed down by wealthy children smuggled from Finland.

When the opportunity for actual freedom finally came after so many centuries, another reality set in. We were on our own, and we turned on each other. There was no food. Dogs disappeared as meat shops opened. Women stole working men away from each other, and lived with their alcoholism and physical abuse. I was terrified day and night, and I dreamed of escaping into places described in old Estonian folklore and fairytales.

: Marliis Newsome was born in Estonia on April 06, 1981. Growing up in a farmhouse that was the scene of many Russian and German battles in WWII, her isolated family home is still surrounded by bomb holes, live rounds, mass graves, and abandoned farms. Morning coffee is made on a wood-fired stove. Villagers swim in a pond formed by the craters of bombs that destroyed a nearby German prison camp. About 30,000 stones are piled in front of the church, one for each of those exiled to Siberia by Stalin.

With the exception of ~75 incongruous years, Estonia has been in servitude or slavery since the 12th century. Their population of 1.3M has been decimated to as low as 70,000 during viscous struggles between Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany, and Russia. They have been stuck in the middle of these conflicts more than been part of them, and survived by serving masters and hiding in the forest when necessary. The fact that they still speak their native tongue is testament to their strength.

"Flat Field is a visual documentary of my experience of freedom."

R3 Gallery presents Flat Field
photos from home: Marliis Newsome
Feb 29th - April 5th
Opening Reception Friday, February 29th, 7-10PM