Tbilisi

Upon the invitation of Joanna Warsza, Slavs and Tatars participated in the summer workshop, Frozen Moments: Architecture Speaks Back, held ceremoniously at the legendary Ministry of Transport in Tbilisi, July 2010.

Artists: Vahram Aghasyan, Ayreen Anastas, Ei Arakawa/Mari Mukai/Gela Patashuri/Sergei Tcherepnin, Ruben Arevshatyan, Bettina Atala, Daniel Baumann, Alena Boika, Rene Gabri, Bouillon Group, Daniel Birkenmayer, George Chakhava, Josef Dabernig, Kote Jincharadze, Didier Fiuza Faustino & Mathieu Herbelin / Mésarchitecture, Yona Friedman, William Hollister, Zurab Jalaghania, Nana Kipiani, Eva Khachatryan, Agnieszka Kurant, Vicki Lee & Next Dreamhacker / Accidental Lover BoyZ, Nikolozi, Nini Palavandishvili, Lali Pertenava, Richard Reynolds, Georg Schöllhammer, Slavs and Tatars, Sophia Tabatadze, Nienke Terpsma & Rob Hamelijnck / Fucking Good Art, Wato Tsereteli, Urban Research Lab: Gio Sumbadze, Ani Chorgolashivili & Rezo Glonti, Greg Lindquist, Tamuna Karumidze, Neli Zedgenidze & Koka Ramishvili; Urban Reactor, Jan Verwoert & Melinda Braathen, Vladimir Volnovik, Aleksandra Wasilkowska, Martin Zet.
 
First photograph by Gio Sumbadze.
 

 

 

Mountain of Wit
2 x 2 m, wall painting, 2010.
Горе от Ума (Gore ot Uma) the famous 19th-century play of manners whose robust title travels business-class from the original Russian to the scrappier shores of the English economy in Woe from Wit. Griboyedov was a close friend of Pushkin’s and diplomat to the Tsar in the Caucasus and, fatefully, alas, Persia.  By changing the Е in the original Russian title to an Ы, we changed Woe is Wit to Mountains of Wit Горы от Ума (Gori ot Uma): where the woe, the wit, and the landscape are very different. Asia’s initiative brought the work back to Tbilisi, where the urban premise of the original work is hijacked by an imaginative and yet all too real Caucasian setting, both of which played a definitive role in Griboyedov’s life and death. 

 

To Mountain Minorities
2.20 x 1.40 m, wall painting, 2010. 
The original expression Chven Sakartvelos Gaumardjos roughly translates as Long Live Georgia! or Vive Georgia!Again, one letter shift, the A of Sakartvelos to a U, makes Sakurtvelos, and the phrase becomes Long Live Kurdistan.The geopolitically unresolved identity of one mountain people is replaced by that of another. Soviet Kurds lived in the city and were recognized as such, with rights to speak and study Kurdish, unlike their counterparts in Syria, Iran, Turkey and until 1990 in Iraq.
 

Hymns of No Resistance: Stuck in Ossetia with you
Gold foil on canvas, hand-painted paper, mimeograph print, 31 x 43 cm, 2010.
 

Romancing the Peaks of Polyglots

A visit to the tombs of two star-crossed lovers – Aleksander Griboyedov and Nino Chavchavadze – at the top of Mtatsminda Pantheon. A famous 19th century playwright and diplomat, Griboyedov was the author of Горе от ума(Gore ot uma), whose Woe is Wit becomes Mountains of Wit within the Ministry of Transport.  Asia’s initiative to bring the work back to Tbilisi, where Griboyedov. Using the salutary tale of Griboyedov’s and Chavchavadze’s romance, the walk reveals Georgia’s complex rapport with its northern and southern neighbors, respectively Russia and Iran. 

 

Kidnapping Mountains

Kidnapping Mountains is a playful and informative exploration of the muscular stories, wills, and defeat inhabiting the Caucasus region. Addressing the complexity of languages and identities on the fault line of Eurasia, Kidnapping Mountains is a performative investigation of realpolitik, cultural affinities, and imagined pasts and futures found in Geography’s case study of complexity otherwise known as the Caucasus. The talk features both affective and analytic research for the eponymous book, published by Book Works, and the exhibit at Netwerk Center of Contemporary Art in Aalst, Belgium. 
Watch Kidnapping Mountains talk