Georgia Here We Come!
Location: NAC, Tbilisi Georgia and Expodium Utrecht, NL
Organisation: Maaike Gouwenberg / Bart Witte (Expodium), Marjolijn Dijkman and Maarten Vanden Eynde (ERforS) and Sopo Tabatadze (GeoAIR)
Participants: Marika Asatiani (GE), Daan van der Berg (NL), Stefaan Dheedene (BE), Marjolijn Dijkman (NL), David Djindjikhachvili (GE/NL), Orgacom (NL), Suze May Sho (NL), Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE/NL), Eric von Robertson (US), Krzysztof Wegiel (PL/NL), Lado Darakhvelidze (GE), Mamuka Samkharatze (GE), Melano Sokhadze (GE), Polina Rudchik (GE), Luiza Laperadze (GE), Bessa Kartlelishvili (GE), Aleksandre Katsitadze (GE), Giorgi Tabatadze (GE)
From the 2nd until the 24th of March 2006 eight artist and two documentary makers went to Tbilisi, Georgia for Part I of ‘Georgia Here We Come’, a project by Enough Room for Space (ERforS) and Expodium. Part I in Tbilisi, Georgia was supervised by ERforS. Expodium organised Part II in Utrecht, the Netherlands. ERforS wanted to establish a wide diversity in the group by selecting artists with different attitudes and modes of operation. A call for participation was spread out and published in several media. During three weeks the participants developed new works, gave lectures at the Art Academy in Tbilisi and participated in several talks and meetings with local artists, historians and architects.
After the Rose Revolution in 2003, the new Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili called back his fellow country-men, who fled Georgia in the past decades, to come and help rebuild the once prosperous and wealthy country into a modern western democracy. We decided to respond to this call as well and see for our selves how a new democracy was being introduced or rather implanted and what the side-effects are of such an enormous political and sociological shift.
The welcome was overwhelming. Thanks to the terrific organisation of GEO-AIR (Sopo Tabatadze, Nadia Tsulukidze and Freya van Dien) who acted as our hosts in Tbilisi, the project was present and alive in the Georgian art world and media from day one. The combination of traditional hospitality and genuine interest and curiosity towards the whole group, made us feel very welcome. The network of people involved and interested in the project grew day-by-day and culminated into an overcrowded final presentation and exhibition of works developed during the residency period.
The lack of activities and foreign visitors drew many people towards the NAC/National Art Center where the project took place. But our continuous efforts to infiltrate Georgian society and investigate the recent changes being carried out, was a big help as well. We all gave lectures at the art academy in Tbilisi and David Djindjikhachvili and Krzysztof Wegiel, the two documentary makers organized a one-minute film workshop. With the assistance of participating artist Stefaan Dheedene, they made 21 short films, based on the Sandberg One-Minutes.
Several works are still being developed or initiated an ongoing commitment and involvement with Georgia or Georgian artists. Rosell Heijmen from Suze May Sho is working on a publication about Georgia and the changes it is undergoing. She is conducting research that already made her go back to Georgia and will keep her in close contact for a long time to come. Teike Asselbergs from Orgacom organized the Tbilisi Initiative Award, giving her working budged to the best proposal to start an artist initiative in Tbilisi. Mental Hybrid (Georgi Tabatadze, Tornike Chapodze, Giorgi Doborjginidze, Irakli Svanidze) were awarded.
Part II took place from the 21th of August till the 17th of September 2006. The following artist were invited to come and work in the Netherlands: Lado Darakhvelidze, Mamuka Samkharatze, Melano Sokhadze, Polina Rudchik, Luiza Laperadze, Bessa Kartlelishvili, Aleksandre katsitadze and Giorgi Tabatadze. They made new works and visited many places in the Netherlands but most of all they gathered as much information as possible to take with them and start an archive of information to be used by other Georgian artists. Two of them (Lado Darakhvelidze and Giorgi Tabatadze) are currently following a Post Graduate in the Sandberg Institute and the Piet Zwart Academie in the Netherlands. Also Rosell Heijmen from part I in Tbilisi and Lado Darakhvelidze from part II in Utrecht got to know each other during the project and are getting married next year. A more symbolic outcome of the exchange project Georgia Here We Come is almost impossible to imagine...