Artisterium - Contemporary Art Exhibition
11 October, 2012
Artisterium - Contemporary Art Exhibition

Mirror opens, dreams sparkle, warriors play innocent games

On October 5, at the Tbilisi History Museum affiliated to the Georgian National Museum, the 5th Tbilisi Contemporary Art International Exhibition Artisterium was opened.

Artisterium is the international occasion, featuring Georgia on the world map of contemporary art and is one of the indicators of the democratic development of the country. The topic of this year’s exhibition is ‘Protest that never ends.’ It offered its participants to create such artworks that would reveal

the essence of protest in the context of art, searching for topical aspects of everyday life, researching the nature of social processes.

When I entered the premise, I had to cross the threshold covered with wool – it reminded me of Georgia’s being the homeland of the legendary Golden Fleece. There were a lot of question marks, as an artist and particularly a contemporary artist is more than free in all dimensions, but still, what I remember most vividly and what impressed me greatly, was  the mirror that opens like a window, displaying an American artist, (as if a window into your own soul), a warrior who plays with stars in his hands and does not think about actual violence (ethnically Ukrainian or Georgian artist), and a live installation subscribed: “What could a man from the West possibly say in this East”? The man’s mouth is plugged, as if he has choosen silence, having a box of matches in his hands – as if he’s trying to speak out about the possible danger but he cannot.

Around100 artists from the countries like Georgia, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Great Britain, Belgium, the United States of America, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Belorussia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Australia, Portugal, New Zealand, Austria and Greece take part in the event.  The partner organizations are: the Embassy of the United States of America in Georgia, Polish Embassy in Georgia, French Institute - Georgia, Goethe Institute - Georgia, British Council in Georgia, Europe House and Tbilisi State Academy of Fine Arts.

Lika Mamatsashvili, Director of Tbilisi History Museum, told Georgian Journal: “This is the 5th time and I see how the spectator is evolving. At the first and second exhibitions they were asking: What is it? And now, they are more accustomed and have more reserved reaction. Contemporary art is something that cannot be just seen and perceived at the same time, as some extra work is needed to be done. If a person loves the traditional art and only believes in brush and pencil, we will not persuade him/her that this one is better, as not everyone likes conceptualism. However, we today live on the crossroads of contemporary and classical art and both have their place. Therefore, we should display contemporary pieces too. We should show the tendencies of our time by all means. This is the process of a creator’s development and I hardly imagine development without such processes.”

For some group of American artists, ordinary Eliava Street market, where Georgians mainly go to buy some utensils when they have repair works at home, either repaint the walls, or do other chores, has become a source of real inspiration. One of them said that she had hardly seen anything like that in the past and called it “a lab of art”; she was greatly impressed by the fact that here the sellers are very communicative and explain to you in details of which use this and that object may be.

For Lydia Matthews, curator of the American part of Eliava project, this is her 8th Georgian project. She told us: “Last spring, I was here and during the workshops where people were getting new ideas for doing supervision work in Georgia, one of the ideas was Chuka’s suggestion about Eliava market. I said: we do want to do that and why don’t we collaborate? I said that I would bring artists from the US and we can come together and US artists can work with Georgian artists. There are fewer and fewer open air markets in the world. They are being replaced by shopping centers. I still think market is better, because many interesting things happen there. All the materials for artists are available. Markets have very creative potential.”

Andria Dolidze is a young Georgian artist who was involved from the Georgian side in the Eliava project. “The author of this project Chuka Kuprava called me and offered to participate. I accepted the offer because the place was attractive for me. I hardly had any idea what I would do but I immediately realized that it would give me some inspiration. When we went to the market and talked to a couple of people, one of the men answered to the question about his occupation: “I am dreaming that it won’t rain because it is very unpleasant to walk in the muddy Eliava Market. I grasped  this phrase, because I did not want to emphasize some grandiloquent themes. I took a piece of scrap-iron from Eliava and wrote on it “Eliava Dream”. This was that one man’s dream and I think that any Georgian is very free in interpretations. Some may attach to it some political meanings (personally to me it was associated with Georgian Dream), it will remind some just an Eliava Market, and so on. It is done in the invisible paint and it is seen only against the background of  ultraviolet light.” Andria Dolidze’s work symbolizes the essence of dream, which could exist and could not – such is this artwork – liting up and vanishing every once in a while.

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