My own transformation during the pandemic, the evolution of my understanding of the importance of parks and green spaces, inspired me to see if others had experienced something similar. Over weeks of research, in published material and interviews with activists, friends and other park goers, I discovered a growing appreciation for the importance of green space—and a growing realization of how much nature has been destroyed in Tbilisi over the past few decades.
Gardens of earthly delights
What do we mean by Georgian protest art or activism, How does it resemble or voice our turbulent recent history? This film highlights some participants of the artistic process and explores the topic through the interviews that express different angles. Four interviewees examine history of artistic protest through historical, cultural, documentary and artistic lenses, recall some examples and besides relevant answers sets new questions for viewers.
Art and protest
"I can’t imagine going through with this one more time," - Guram Tsibakhashvili told me these words, while we were going through his huge archive of photos from the 1990s, arranged according to dates. Each photo describes either two or more different stories when one remembers the episodes from the nearest past: one that is seen, or one that is felt. The Independence of Georgia started with demonstrations, raided rallies, civil war, criminal fights, ethnic conflicts, hunger and little electricity. However independence gave rise to interesting processes in Art. Tsibakha was part of this process. He knew many artists, was friends with them, and constantly took photos of the decade. His camera was like an additional eye, which captured and stored every important movement of the 1990s. His archive is a precious source of information that enables you to remember and process the important events of the country; otherwise history is often coloured with nationalistic shades.
"Dear Dirty Tbilisi"
Large balconies, high ceilings and arcades that ooze with liberty-like charm – this lavish modernist construction, which cannot go unnoticed in the heart of Tbilisi's Sololaki district, is in fact an old “Terror House”. In a twist of fate, the so-called “Makharadze House” was at once inhabited by the high ranking Soviet officials and their victims throughout the purges of 1930s and 1940s. Together with the adjacent buildings, it has borne witness to Georgia’s Soviet past. The building is one of the many that the Soviet Past Research Laboratory (SOVLAB) has mapped out as part of its “red terror topography” project, an investigation on the Communist terror through routes and research on the buildings that oppressors and victims lived in. SOVLAB’s researcher Irakli Khvadagiani guides us through the life and death which unfolded behind the walls of Kikodze #11.
Reconstructing childhood memories is my favorite activity. I try my best to evoke them, bring them to surface, shape them in images and sounds. A few months ago, I have decided to rebuild my fragmented memory by digitizing old videotapes. Piles of outdated VHS tapes were overflowing my desk. I went through them meticulously - rewinding some, but mostly watching each and every one of them from beginning till end. Through them, I came across Russian dubbed movies, home-made videos and music clips recorded from MTV music channel. Some of my missing memories were fully reconstructed during those viewings. Through my efforts to glean the past, I discovered one important video - a damaged magnetic tape, which served as the inspiration for this project.
More Than Words
This multimedia project consists of fragments from a diary I kept in 2012. That was a point in my life, which encouraged me to make number of personal videos, audios, texts and images. Sharing them here was not an easy decision. I felt myself nearly drowning as I assembled these witnesses to the past. Finding the right form of expression was as challenging as making a confession.
I Had an Empty Place
I disassembled women’s bodies to find unity. The creative process was like an epiphany as the partition revealed a unique wholeness. Yet that which creates can also destroy. Our modern world (ab)uses this creative process: in advertisements, images and words are cut into pieces and collaged together to misrepresent and damage the female body. The path to shape our bodies according to a dictated model that women have widely adopted can lead to alienation. At the end of that track, we often only hurt our bodies and our confidence.
The Hunter Erects the City
Surnames in Georgia reflect both history and geography. Depending on your family name, people can tell where you are from and sometimes who you are. An “uncommon” last name rarely goes unnoticed. Filmmaker Anna Dziapshipa knows it well. Her Abkhaz surname stirs emotions in Georgia: some recall the acclaimed 1950s soccer player, Niaz Dziapshipa; most remember the region Georgia lost after the brutal conflict of the early 1990s. In this experimental video, Dziapshipa delves into the intricate layers of what nationality and identity mean, starting from the challenge writing or saying her own surname has always been.
On Being Dziapshipa
Reproductive health is always a political question: it’s significant for women’s empowerment, their social status, health, and their right to decide the course their own lives. When thinking about the visual representation of this issue, I was drawn to the word “reproduction,” and its diverse meanings. I delved into the archives to find the voices of women who had no information about reproductive health. In the process of “reproducing” their voices, I entered a dialogue between women from different times, with vastly different access to information about their own bodies.
What we think about when we dream about home
Georgia’s recent history is one of protest, including lone protests by single individuals. Even when it was nearly impossible to speak out against the government, people criticised the system, the authorities and the regimes - sometimes even standing alone. While preparing material for this edition, I asked friends and colleagues to recall individual protests, examples they remembered from the past and those they had heard about or seen footage of.