Karolin OttArtist

After moving to London, I continued analysing my relationship with art. Roles that once distracted me from focusing on my true calling are now becoming more like white canvases covered with paint that symbolise the closeness of my true love - art.

"I am what I do, I create worlds full of colours"

This art project focuses on my struggle as a young woman to divide myself between different roles and finding a way to become a professional artist.

As a student I was in a safe environment dreaming about becoming an artist whose only job is being in her art studio and making art. But after graduation that did not happen. Why? Because I had to get a job to earn money and make this happen, but there was never enough money and what was even worse - there was not enough time anymore.

And there I am, standing in my room and looking at things around me. These things tell me how I have spent all of my time on different roles - office worker, housewife, traveller, sexy girlfriend - instead of concentrating on a role that I miss the most.

However I will take that time from now on...

People who go to travel in other countries usually take some pictures of the landscapes and the city life to portray the foreign country for their friends back home.
But I personally think that the local people are the ones who make the spirit of a country. People have their personalities, face features, thoughts, dreams, behaviours, politeness and cultural background. And this is actually all that distinguishes one country from another. Therefore, the best way to express the „face“ of Portugal is to portray the people who live here.

Moreover, I have always been attracted to people’s face features. It is especially interesting in Portugal, where the population is a big mixture of different nations for historical reasons. I was fortunate to see these surprising differences even among the people I was in contact with during my time in Portugal. And to show this big variety even more playfully I created a computer program where you can change different parts of the faces I painted and create 2,598,156 different faces yourself.

Make your own Face of Portugal

Project is based on my experience of being Erasmus student in a country where people speak language that is totally different from my mother tongue.

When I arrived to Portugal I didn’t know much about this language, the only words that I knew were colors (vermelho, amarelo, azul, castanho, verde, branco, preto, cinza, laranja) and how to say hello (olá!) and thank you (obrigada!). Although many people in Portugal speak English, it was hard in the beginning to be in an enviroment where you do not understand almost any words. Therefore I took some Portuguese courses to accelerate my language learning, but still I felt that learning language by always translating it into English and then into Estonian kept my development too slow. And as my hearing memory is not very good, i didn’t catch the language very well by trying to talk the people either.

So I decided to use my artist picture memory to enforce myself to learn and memorize words. I started to draw new words that I heard on the small papers (7,5 x 10, 5 cm) and put them on the wall just to hold them always at my sight. Week by week, more walls were getting covered with the words and in the end my room started to be an installation of wall dictionary.

August is one of my acquaintances who studied on same course as me. At first impression he seems very shy and decent, but still waters run deep. A few times August has passingly mentioned some phases of his earlier life, when he and his band had quite a wild life in London. That makes August very mysterious man for me, because time after time I would hear surprisingly interesting aspects of his life from him.
To visualise his diverse personality, I decided to portray him in a maze. Maze – complicated, fallacious, strictly structured, mysterious space, very similar to the essence of August. Maze is also a good way to make viewers puzzle on how to reach August.

Me and my friend Marit were both art students and childhood friends. Our lives have gone quite similar paths, as we both have made similar decisions. When we started on the same course in Estonian Academy of Art we both had a passion to get inspiration from different junk, especially metal waste and old details of various electronic machines.

Nevertheless, when time passed it became clear that Marit’s love for ready-mades was bigger than mine, so she chose to become a sculptor and I specialised in painting. I think this painting describes this breaking point, where we stand on garbage dump as best friends, but there is distance between us, because we have dissociated from each other with the decision we have made.

Who has not watched how lights kindle and crash down in the evenings and how somebody operates behind the windows in endless suburbs, where most of us live? It is endlessly interesting to stare how a housewife is cooking in the kitchen and children running in another room. All this kindling and crashing down of lights and people’s activities make you feel that big cold blocks of flats are not so cold after all. They are full of exciting life and it seems like dwellings breathe in their own rhythm.
When me and Marit Mardla, who is a co-author of this artwork, were asked to do this project for The Festival of Lights, which could change dark nights of January lighter, we decided not to make another flashing sculpture to the city, which is clearly afflicted by light noise, but value the invisible beauty that surround us every day and to present it more playfully.

Rein is one of my friends. In my opinion he has a very interesting face and to bring this up even more, I asked him to make a face for me. I got a funny and exciting photo series of him and decided to paint it.
The most important thing for me was keeping the same funny feeling as I had with Rein in my artwork. So I decided to make it very playful. Therefore I cut Rein’s face out of MDF (this was actually the first time I decided not to paint on a traditionally shaped canvas!), so he looked like a doll.
When I was a little girl I liked to think that all my dolls were actually alive, hence I wanted my doll of Rein to be as a living person, who moves himself. As I wanted to describe his facial expressions, I chose plasticine instead of paint, because it is more flexible and it was easier to change the mimics on the “painting”.


It is a well-known fact that mobile phones are now one of the best modern means of communication. Many people are so used to mobile phones that they could not imagine their lives without them.
Mobile phones have often been glorified as giving freedom to communicate everywhere and anytime. In my opinion the biggest freedom in the modern Information Age is to be in a place without continuously squeaking mobile phones.
However, when walking on the streets, or traveling by public transportation we cannot find a place without audio noise. But what if we could see all the radio frequencies? Then there would be no freedom, because we would feel ourselves totally trapped.
The paintings are made based to the photo documentation taken of people on the streets.