The Doors of Viljandi « Kondase Keskus

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The Doors of Viljandi

Photographs by R. Paul Firnhaber

Viljandi’s doors are beautiful. It is appropriate to present them at a Folk Art Museum. Their makers may not have intended them as art (which makes them pure folk art). Their beauty may have even more to do with what they symbolize than what they look like. They describe the qualities that abide inside, behind them. Doors separate what is outside from what is inside The Doors of Viljandi are symbols of the strength of a people who, for half of the past century, sustained their spirit behind locked doors.

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R. Paul Firnhaber photographed these doors over several summers. At first they seemed just interesting. Then they somehow became important. He eventually photographed over two hundred doors, editing them, finally, to these twenty five. As he worked with them, they assumed many layers of significance. The doors spoke to him of things that were important to him. He got close to the mysterious reasons he felt so strongly about Estonia.

The Photographer
Firnhaber first came to Estonia in 2001, then returned the next year to learn more about this country that had become so important in his thoughts and mind. Without real answers, he committed himself to the purchase of an old historic house in Uue-Kariste that he continues to restore. He now lives here half time, partly in pursuit of answers to his questions, but mostly because he just likes it here.

Born and raised in the US, Firnhaber has traveled the world as a researcher, writer and photographer and has presented his work, including exhibitions of photographs, on six continents. He has published 13 books and scores of contributions other works. His primary study on has to do with the art the remaining indigenous peoples of the world.

Firnhaber is proud to exhibit his work at Kondase Keskus, and to be a small part of a very special community.