Art-Gene – Cherishing National Heritage
02 August, 2012
Art-Gene – Cherishing National Heritage

 

It is for the 9th time that Tbilisi dwellers know how to cool out in the intolerable hot summer days – they do have discovered a nice island just above Tbilisi, where they will find the whole Georgia together.

This is the group of people who stay as watchdogs for every sound tradition. Like their matters of concern, the festival itself has become already a tradition, as it is loved and cherished equally by all Georgians and foreigners who love or

wish to get to know the country better, in its best expressions. This is the festival and group Art-gene, focusing on the national creative gene of Georgians.

They say that tradition always means positive thing, as it is tested by time. They do not limit themselves by geography, just the contrary.  The group travels all around Georgia to find the pearls of Georgian ethno culture and bring them back to the capital in the end. Before that, Art-Gene organizes concerts in different regions of Georgia. It started on July 21st and ended on July 29th in Tbilisi Ethnographic Museum, located below Turtle Lake that represents the pattern of small Georgia with all its typical houses and yards characteristic to each part of Georgia. It is one of the most cheerful places to visit in midsummer Tbilisi during the event.

 

Giorgi Baramidze, one of the founders of the festival Art-Geni told Georgian Journal: “The motto of this year’s festival is ‘Protect your family’. We try to have some mottos every year. Our motivation was to give each annual Art Gene festival its own distinct profile but keeping aspects of the previous one, thus giving the festival a wider range every year. Our first topic in the first year of 2004 was Family folklore and we still return to the family theme. There are some traditions via which our national traits and gene is transmitted from generation to generation. There are a lot of customs and habits. For instance, we have a very deeply-rooted institute of grandparents –their particularly subtle relations with their grandchildren. It is thanks to them that we so deeply and vigorously feel our roots.”

According to Mr. Baramidze, this year is more representative than ever – guests from eight foreign countries. They are from Madagascar, Mali, Lithuania, France, Scotland, Poland, Algeria… “The tsunami of globalization is getting closer, and therefore, it is important to emphasize the national values and preserve our identity, “ he added.

Apart from foreign troupes, the participants were from all parts of Georgia, including Abkhazia and ethnic minorities.

Art Gene Festival is an initiative of Georgian NGO “Union of Art Gene”, formed by group of friends whose mission was to identify problems associated with traditional and folk culture and find ways for their solution. The Art Gene group mainly consists of artists and musicians. In 2003 the Art Gene group initially began investigation of the existence of remaining indigenous Georgian art forms, including folk music, which has been passed down from generation to generation forming an integral part of Georgian life. The Art Gene Group traveled throughout all regions of Georgia, investigated over 100 families. who were known to maintain their strong traditions and whose activities were then filmed and recorded on the spot. Most of them were selected to participate in a Gala concert at the first Art Gene festival in Tbilisi in 2004, where they performed in front of a large audience and were recorded live for further archival purposes and to produce and publish CDs.

In 2004 the main profile was Crafts, which we organized after extensive expeditions throughout Georgia giving us an insight into the huge potential within this field for many years to come.  The Art Gene Group found yet other examples of previously unknown artists, blacksmiths, who have preserved their indigenous methods thought to be extinct. The result of 2005 research was the publication of a book “Masters of Georgia’s Traditional Crafts”, which catalogues the work of artisans working in different fields throughout Georgia and provides their contact details to encourage commissions from the readers. The book aims to address such sensitive issues as migration and potential tourism development, so much needed in rural areas to keep these artisans interested in continuing their work for their future prosperity.

Art-Gene Festivals exhibited modern and traditional folk music, exhibitions and sales of folk handicrafts, traditional medicine, traditional cuisine and folk games to promote Georgian heritage in the capital and regions. To attract young generations to see more traditional and folk music, in parallel, the organizers staged popular rock concerts towards the evenings of festival days and developed certain pattern of jamming sessions with folk and modern music and dance, which proved to become one of the trademarks of our festival.

The Festival is attended by all generations since it covers the widest range of cultural activities including: arts, crafts, folk music, modern music, martial weaponry, blacksmithery, tannery, cloisonne enamel, apiculture (beekeeping), basket making, knitting, sewing, embroidery, gobelin, cloth and felt making, musical instruments, pottery and ceramics, kilims, weaving, carpentry and stonemasonry, wood carving, jewelry,  culinary, traditional medicine, martial arts, dance, etc. generally emphasizing fields of activities which are still part of daily life in all versatility of different ethnic groups existing in Georgia. Sukhishvili national ballet performance was the culmination of Art-Gene 2012.  Virtuous dancers even danced some considerable part of the program without music, which is so very difficult. Following the performance, the stage was given to all amateur dancers, who turned out to be quite a lot. The atmosphere was really relaxed and casual, and everybody felt at home, sitting in open air under the national sky.

The festival Art Gene is an ongoing project since 2004 and several recent researches showed that it is the most well organized, by far the most attended and popular public art event in Georgia. 40 000 visitor attendance rate in 2007 revealed further steady 90% increase as in previous years.

 

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