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Maria Izabella Lehtsaar

  • Faculty of Fine Arts
  • Graphic Art
  • ba
  • The Devil Is in the Details (Letters to Myself)
  • Tutor(s): Eve Kask
  • Digital printing, coloured polyfoam
  • Dimensions of photos 34,5 × 51,5 cm, double-sided postcard leaflet 80 × 15 cm, sculpture 176 × 56 × 49 cm

I often write about emotions and thoughts to get them out of my inner world. The heaviness of these thoughts overwhelms me, I feel as though my body and mind are separated. My body has become a tool, a machine. My mind is the leader who wants too much at once and overloads my body. Self-care is not easy. There are setbacks and pauses in the process, and sometimes it feels like everything is getting worse. In the long run, however, I have improved and grown.

The decision to make the letters unreadable, but to leave the titles, was due to the fact that even I find it difficult to read the letters, but I wanted to leave some hints about the contents of the letters. I formalised the letters as postcards because they are like vague memories of letters whose existence I remember, but their content is becoming obsolete. Now, in an illegible form, postcards with letters symbolise my memories of worse times that I sometimes remember when I remind myself that I am better now and have moved on.

The photo series consists of eight photographs of hand-set foundry types stacked in an abstract way. I wanted to visualise the perceived difficulty of the content of the letters. The original plan was to use typesetting for the dissertation, but due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus that proved impossible, so I decided to take pictures of the print types. When photographed on a light table with a micro lens, the types of prints became distant forms of brutalist architecture that stand in the middle of a large white emptiness. The process acts like self-censorship for the creator: in order to set the text, proofreading must be carefully monitored. In order to achieve a good result, it is necessary to concentrate because any other thought might interfere with the setting of text; otherwise, a typographical error will slip in.

The heyday of brutalism fell in a time when humans were like nuts in a great system and under constant censorship. The little humans melted into the grey mass, behaved as they should, and censored their own thoughts. Today, the concept of self-censorship is more of a fear or unwillingness to offend someone’s feelings.

The sculpture of the M print type embodies both heaviness and physicality. When the sculpture was completed, I felt how it connected the work as a whole, like a big initial at the beginning of a letter. In order to make the print type the length of my own body (176 cm), I had to increase the size of the regular type by a factor of 70.