TMW Quarantine Stories: Ann Virkus and Marina Pushkar

15 April 2020

Today the guests of our Quarantine Stories are Ann Virkus, Head of Special Projects & Transformation at BLRT Grupp / Noblessner and the TMW photo team’s coordinator Marina Pushkar.

A real idealist and fighter, Ann Virkus has led social campaigns on complicated topics from drug prevention to HIV and AIDS, and worked as a project manager at the National Institute for Health Development. These days she is one of the key figures in transforming the former submarine factory Noblessner into a lively district, open to people and sea where historic sites meet the innovative new developments and exciting pastime options from promenade strolls to expeditions in PROTO Invention Factory’s innovative tech meets Jules Verne-era milieu. At Tallinn Music Week 2020, five showcase nights will take place in Noblessner – at Nobel Hall, Kai Art Center and techno club HALL.

Marina Pushkar is a brilliant fashion, lifestyle and events photographer who has captured many essential moments at TMW throughout the years – from the City Stage gigs in unexpected places to the most vivid festival characters. This year Marina will lead the whole team of TMW photographers.

What are you listening, watching, reading etc?

Ann: I’ve been mostly looking at the stranded old town streets during my long, asocial walks, and listened to a new, never before heard sound piece called Silence of the Old Town from the viewing platform on Kohtuotsa Street. It’s an amazing experience. At my home office, I mainly listen to the Brain Food and Deep Focus playlists on Spotify. The little time left over from work and everyday activities is filled with recorded plays from the ERR archive and long phone conversations with friends and close ones.

Marina: I’m listening to sunny Italian music and the “Anna Karenina” audiobook. I’m reading “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling. I’m look out the window and run around in the forest.

What are you feeling and thinking about in this situation?

Ann: The time is out of joint… We are in the midst of an historic moment, which impact on the world might be comparable with the moment the internet reached the masses.

Current times are sifting through our understanding of what actually matters. Will the world be saved by gilded superstars or nameless scientists working for meager wages, as well as thousands of others, who in the direct sense of the world are risking their lives on the frontlines? Who and what do we actually care about  – as people, community members and citizens?

I miss the synergy that comes from the physical presence of people. I also miss the video conferencing solutions that would allow people to look into each other’s eyes during the calls. It is great to see that news about cultural affairs haven’t disappeared from the media. Unlike sports competitions, creations poured out on paper, film, image or sound are infinitely reusable.

Luckily, we’ve managed to build most of the streets and renovate most of the historic buildings in Noblessner. At least this way, we can offer everyone beautiful views, a safe and spacious urban space, as well as an abundance of fresh sea air.

Marina: Constantly discovering previously hidden resources and talents, both mine and of my close ones.

What kind of future are you dreaming of?

Ann: To put it simply, I dream of a world that wastes less and is oriented more towards caring cooperation. I wish the wage figures of top scientists and footballers would be flipped and that Estonian scientists should never again struggle for lack of money.

Marina: I dream of a time where we decide our actions and plans at our own behest. I dream of freedom and summer.