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Possible  deterritorialization for miracles

Traditionally the cities with particular mythologies are chosen for the projects of contemporary art as they are promising interesting relations with contextual conditions. In this regard Tbilisi has no special features, - it is the old city, the capital of Georgia, - one of the ex-Soviet countries passing now through complicated process of self-identification in new reality of transitional period, likewise the Georgian art scene which needs artistic collaborations to expand the area for its activities. The exhibition titled as Nordic Art Between Miracles has gone without any “translation difficulties,” – it really became a space of transformation and deterritorialization, where the borders of political or social dimension vanished.

It was really surprising for me to face the project titled as Museum of impossible - Unrealized and Unrealizable Art Projects by Denis Romanovski and Elin Wikstrom at the exhibition of Nordic art in Tbilisi. This piece has presented collection of art projects, which haven’t been realized as a result of different obstacles. You could see whole archive of histories of unsuccessful projects and some of them belonged to Georgian artists too. By the way, in 2005 I was a curator of the exhibition _Failed: unsuccessful projects, which has developed the similar concept and some artists displayed their failed ideas in the gallery “Didi”, which on the other hand turned itself into a kind of unsuccessful project and soon stopped its existence as a gallery of alternative art. Unfortunately nobody is surprised in Georgia when initiatives start enthusiastically and finally end in a short time or disappear without any real results. Anyway, we can be sure that all persons connected with art meet the same problems in spite of different cultural contexts and territorial varieties and some of objective symptoms have an abstract potency to go further through artistic research. And what about the experiences which would be shared or exchanged in order to avoid the only formal fixation as an  exhibition in the other geographical location? This problem was clear for the artists and organizers of the exhibition - Josefina Posch and Leslie Johnson who visited Tbilisi in 2011 for research and preparation work; - by this time they already knew some of the representatives of Tbilisi art scene. They were interested to know more about the problems of local art process in order to decide what they could offer to very specific Georgian audience.  As a result we got the best production as an exhibition which became really interesting for CCA Gallery visitors. The themes of communication and interaction served as an inspiration for the project and beside this were developed as artistic forms in the exhibited pieces. The installation by Eva Koch showed video about variety of interpretations, more precisely it was concentrated on voice and gesture.  The visitors were hearing the declamation of fragment from Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri and read it by eyes: poetry reading was sounding simultaneously with group performance expressing the same verse through alphabet of signs. Eva Koch says in interview she considers the communication as very important phenomena and is deeply concerned in how people understand each other and how they sense the same information through different forms. Emphatic language of signs increases sense of necessity and inevitability of coming in contact and expresses its importance for human. This video inspires with emotions and expressiveness. In whole the exhibition was charged with emotional inclination which mightily was increasing at the piece by Sasha Huber - Haiti Cherie. The work Haiti Cherie was created in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010.   Sasha Huber says on her project:  “A couple a weeks after the quake, dressed in a custom-made jumpsuit in the colors of the Haitian flag, I made snow angels as a symbol of my mourning, the lost lives, my solidarity and hope.” The video projection showed similar marks left after artist’s body on the snow in the vast valley of frozen Baltic Sea. Their endless repetition makes big picture consisting of multiplied anonymous symbolic figures and the work turns into very open and sensitive rite of condolence. This action-performance can be considered as a way of artistic response on the question of how do we react to feedback  on natural disasters , what human being can do in conditions, when it’s impossible to help or rescue somebody. Beside this here appears the essence of art as a form of communication, which may have opportunity to develop as an autonomous visual language expressing itself through images of artistic value with no necessity of additional verbal interpretations. Another human drama was presented as a video installation by Lars Lauman, - the relationship between artist and death row inmate, which began as a professional project and at the end it was replaced in emotional affair. The video is constructed by documentary material and through routine details of collaborative communications displays invisible and ephemeral experience of time,  - transformations in time with unexpected results, which can be perceived as real surprise which may happen in life. 

The almost every participant of the exhibition touched the theme of communications by their distinctive way. Josefina Posch who usually works with sculptural forms through interactive format pushed her sculptures - two silicone creatures to the open interaction with the public; visitors could touch them, play with their bodies, change their positions, etc... The contact moments between visitors and sculptures were recorded by camera as documentation for artistic research. As Josefina Posch says sometimes this kind of projects work look like a test cases and visitors express their desires or psychological states in relations with art work. Usually the agenda of contemporary art includes the intentions of art forms to live as an undivided part of everyday life, eventually overcome restriction “Don’t touch!” –command associated with museum rules and transform art as an organic element of life, where artistic interpretations are inserted in natural way. This was a key point for New Realists  in 1960-ies and became a very actual topic for Georgian cultural process of last period, which is running in a complicated context of post totalitarian situation; to say more precisely it’s about ways of perception of sculptures or any other art, while still is keeping distance among art work and audience, as a result o Soviet tradition, when art was pathetic and served ideology and propaganda, hence it was in a dominant position to the society and that’s why for local society it’s not easy to meet actual art. Nevertheless young generation already has different positions in connection with art and its contemporary problems, and we all hope to get some interesting changes.
Exciting interplay between forms, their meanings and material you could find in the original version of installation by Leslie Johnson. She builds sculptures of small scale by different texture and intend them for a new game with subtle implication of appearing various realities, whether it spontaneous or planned actions, or different contexts and transformed contents as well. The installation is a peculiar allegory on power system games and their illusory and superficial decisions “to make world better” and as Leslie Johnson comments, it refers to the fact that corporate image is to change and be "new" but really there is very little interest in actually improving or exploring, so finally it goes no further than the PR project serving to capitalist interests. The symbolic player figures inserted in the installations are based on the images in textbooks to illustrate situations, so called stick figures and displayed kind of hierarchy: “The sculptures, made from small sticks are the models or examples ready to play the game with the more regimented and burned figures.”(Leslie Johnson)

The exhibitions of contemporary art mainly reveal rhizomatic way of development, embracing all workable tendencies and make evident the nature of structures. “Among miracles” touched several important themes juxtaposing communications and various mediums (sculpture, video, installation). They could be: what is art itself, what can it express and with what forms and in whole what is the place for it in the lives of contemporary human beings. It proved that art may offer new definitions and new types of interactions in connection with our environment, even with the animal world, as it showed  “Promised land: ecologies of uncertainty” by Bryndis Snabjornsdottir and Mark Wilson. The installations consisting of cardboard animal silhouette sculptures and impressive graphic series, which depicts again animal-birds siluettes  just like several layers of semi transparent stills covering each other. The installation built a conditional reality as a place for transformations caused by environmental interventions which divides and produces additional dimensions.  In this territory concrete images of animals are transforming into abstract images.   

We can see project by Nordic artists realized in Tbilisi exhibition space as an illustration of deterritorialization, which also carries models of possible reactions, where borders vanish: you can make gesture of solidarity to the tragedy on another continent, listen to the poetry expressed by signs, do presentation of unrealized projects, or send a replica to young generation through the gigantic glove by Anders Smebye, - the strange sculpture of octopus done by leather , rope and metal  titled as “to Youth,” demonstrating the question itself. 

August Strindberg’s prognosis as a graffiti quote cited on the wall of gallery immediately at the entrance sounded as a question too: - What people call success Is only preparation for the next failure. Sure, it concerns on values and conditional nature of any initiatives. In my opinion it’ll be exciting if this exposition will travel in other cities and observe how it’ll work in different context and maybe we’ll see more “miracles” through space transformations too. 


Khatuna Khabuliani
Tbilisi, Georgia



2014-09-27 - news
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