TMW Quarantine Stories: Helen Sildna and Ott Kangur

18 April 2020

Our today’s Quarantine Stories are told by Helen Sildna, the founder and director of TMW, Shiftworks and Ott Kangur, an interior architect, whose common ethos of being and working could be summed up with keywords like cooperation, cognition, impact.

Helen has an architect’s gaze and socially sensitive heart that are united by the conviction that culture, the most powerful communication tool consists not only of festive and rewarding achievements but also of the conscious process in which both concept and atmosphere are equally important, and sustainable impact is the king. She is also the unofficial champion of the b-day congratulation copywriters (tested on the team and friends!). Thanks to all that, she has also managed to gather a dynamic and motivated team and collaborators.

One such partner is Ott who has created numerous stage and environment designs for TMW and Shiftworks projects in Tallinn, Narva and abroad as well as for other festivals like Jazzkaar and PÖFF (Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival). Known also as a theatre designer (Ugala Teater, Theatrum) and reuse design activist, his portfolio includes both charmingly ascetic and extremely multi-layered design solutions, but his unifying trademark is always “it’s good, pleasant and meaningful to be here.”

Read what these wise and wonderful people are consuming and thinking in these strange times and what kind of inventory they expect from our future.

What are you listening, watching, reading etc?

Ott: At the moment, nature is full of spring sounds and feats for the eye. My favourite sounds & sights are by the storks returning from the south, the music of the forest and the starry night sky. I am greatly inspired by the powerful beauty of nature, but from the man-made soundscapes I currently enjoy Ben Lukas Boysen’s album “Spells”.

Helen: Within these five weeks I have watched five documentaries that have touched me profoundly. Writing it down here, I discover now that all these have accidentally been about women, who had the courage to change themselves, their lives and through that, their societies too.

“Maiden” – one of the most inspiring documentaries I have seen. In 1989 an all-female crew enters the Whitbread Round the World Race. A story of determination, teamwork and human capability. On the boat they thought they were losing, but what they didn’t see yet, was that they’d changed the world in the meantime.

“RBG” pays respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life work. In the start of her career she did not get hired to a law firm due to her gender, so in 1972, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project, where she took a strategic course, taking aim at specific discriminatory statutes and building on each successive victory. Piece by piece she knitted together the framework for America’s court practice on equality.

“A Word After a Word After a Word is Power“ – I had just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s „The Testaments“ and started watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” series when watching this film, I found out which fragments of her eerie dystopia are borrowed from real life history. “Our rights were stolen, and we all let it happen,” says the heroine of the novel.

“Monica” – Estonia’s top attorney Monika Mägi, who recently celebrated her 88th birthday is talking about human nature, truth, justice and fairness. Spectacular life wisdom, precision and depth.

“Unorthodox” (Netflix), a mini-series, based on true stories that tell the story of a 19-year-old Jewish woman, who runs away from her husband and an Ultra-Orthodox community in Williamsburg, NYC and starts a new life in Berlin.

What are you feeling and thinking about in this situation?

Ott: I am taken aback by how a small (virus) molecule can stop a complex yet unbalanced world of man-made systems. Current situation provides an opportunity to think deeply about what humanity has managed to bring about up until now, what is the situation today, what conclusions to draw from that and how to plan our tomorrow. Oddly enough, I even enjoy the situation that allows me to stay at home and spend time with my dear family 24/7. It’s a good feeling that is certainly one of the values I would like to hold on to if the mechanisms of society and the economy should go back to “normal” again one day.

Helen: I am mainly thinking that change begins from within. You cannot change your surroundings, unless you first change yourself. Now that a month has gone by and the first shock has passed, I feel the calm and a new rhythm emerging. I think my biggest fear is that this moment will pass, we’ll return to normal, forget about it fast and nothing will have changed – the same hectic fuss will continue. At the same time I hope that those, who are fragile, will also survive and gain strength. I feel that contact with my close ones and team members has not disappeared, but has become even more meaningful. Not knowing what future will bring, as well as the need to tackle challenges and solve difficult problems, is an inevitable part of life. But an internal anxiety, brought by senseless multitasking, unnecessary social duties and general imbalance, doesn’t have to be. I am not wishing for an easy and worry-free life, but surely I can reduce the unnecessary hassle. I’m exercising the skill of making the difference between important and urgent.

What kind of future are you dreaming of?

Ott: That the beauty that sounded silent until today would be loud and travel far tomorrow.

Helen: Much less of everything, more quality and focus to things that matter. Courage to change the status quo and honesty to demand change always first from yourself.