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IN TR O. Caucasus


If mountains make men, then they make them strong and almost astoundingly complex. ‘The Mountain of Tongues’ or ‘Jabal al-alsun’ is how AlMas’udi, a tenth-century Arab geographer, referred to the Caucasus. Nineteenth-century Russians called it ‘Warm Siberia’. Mountain peoples themselves have as many ways as there are peoples (and at last count, there were at least fifty) to describe themselves.

Dedicated to promoting this unique cultural space, Transkaukazja is the only multidisciplinary, international festival inspired by contemporary Caucasus.

We often mistake simplicity for a sign of strength, but the Caucasus is every bit an exception to the rule. The mountainous landscape has resulted in a multiplicity of ethnicities, languages, and names that seems as fit for the alternative cosmogony of a science-fiction author as it does for an anthropological study. There are Laks, Lezgins, Circassians, Kabardins, Balkarians, Avarians, and Kulmyks. Not to mention the Dargins, Kists, Aguls, Adyghe, Svans, and Laz. All this before finally coming up for air with more newsworthy, if not necessarily more obvious, peoples such as Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Dagestanis, Ingushetians, Chechens, and Ossetians. But beware those who believe we are trading in the obscure. These are the very peoples whose ethno-linguistic origin – that is, Caucasian – is ostensibly the foundation of what passes as western civilisation. A civilisation which has of late betrayed its base, to use political currency, and whose remit has been kidnapped, taken from the terrain of intricacy and intimacy to one of reductive simplicity.

The Transkaukazja Festival takes place every two years, in open and central urban spaces, as well as in the most important modern art galleries, cinemas, theatres and key cultural centers. The festival features a variety of interdisciplinary presentations through visual arts, film, music, dance, and events combining different art genres. Since 2004, Transkaukazja has brought a wide audience in direct contact with contemporary art created in one of the most culturally rich regions in the world. The history of Transkaukazja has also witnessed fruitful achievements in connecting East and West. In 2011, Transkaukazja International will take place in over seven countries with renowned artists and local NGOs. The festival has been awarded a grant by the European Culture Program 2007-2013 as the only project led by a Polish organization and implemented in cooperation with third country participation. The International Team of Transkaukazja

With nations existing side-by-side, but isolated linguistically from neighbours only a short distance away, the Caucasus are a testament to the power and complexity of language and geography. Perhaps most importantly, though, the Caucasus offers a urgent precedent to look transversally at the combustive issue of identity. The region is to some degree a precursor to the globalized or ‘flat’ world of the early 21st century: the sheer concentration of pluralism allows for a topographic melodrama not dissimilar to the mash-up of media and ideas brought about by digital technology. Slavs and Tatars read more in Kidnapping Mountains 02


Inspired by contemporary Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the future team of the Warsawbased NGO, Other Space Foundation ( which first created Transkaukazja, continues to coordinate the festival. The organizers seek to introduce Polish and European audiences with the dynamics and uniqueness of this region through contemporary art. At each Transkaukazja Festival, they bring together original art projects in cooperation with independent artistic organizations and partners from the European Union and the Caucasus countries. Transkaukazja continues to initiate new artistic articulation, and has grown from a grass-roots intercultural project into a broadlycelebrated transnational event. The first Transkaukazja festival in Warsaw introduced visual art performances, Caucasian film screenings, cultural workshops, photography exhibitions, as well as the legendary Rose Revolution, the ethno-rock band Zumba from Georgia. The second Transkaukazja in 2005 added new elements and took place on the New Town Square in Warsaw, with the main stage and thematic tents showing music concerts, multimedia shows and even Caucasian cuisine. 03

Over the past few years, Transkaukazja has presented a multifaceted Caucasia, through a famous Marionette Theatre from Baku, the PolishUkrainian-Georgian ethno-rock band Z’umba (not to be confused with Zumba), the Chechen and Ingushetti dance group Wajnach, the Azerbaijani jazz Bacustic Jazz, the female electropunk group from Armenia Pincet, the world-class Natiq’s Rhythm Group from Azerbaijan, the Georgian folk ensemble Chveneburebi and the Polish band Psio Crew, the preeminent Georgian rock/ reggae/folk group Niaz Diasamidze and 33A, Senegalese-Polish vocalist Mamadou Diouf, among other live performances. Transkaukazja has also incorporated events such as Caucasian Table Academy or exhibitions at the prestigious Center of Contemporary Art in Ujazdowski Castle and in the Zachęta National Gallery (venue of Kordegarda), Warsaw. As a result, Transkaukazja has been widely recognized for its mission to promote awareness and participation in contemporary Caucasus. The last Transkaukazja in 2009 was attended by nearly 20 000 spectators, championed by popular mainstream media coverage, and received international partnership support. Transkaukazja was also the inspiration for other original international art projects – such as ArtZone (Polish alternative days in Caucasus – or later Frozen Moments. Architecture Speaks Back (transnational, interdisciplinary project that combined researchbased activities, architecture and visual arts



TRANSKA 2011. Transkaukazja 2011 International is the fifth edition of the festival. The festival this year will extend its event formula and take new actions all over the central Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany etc.) and in the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) Artistic events related to culture in the Caucasus will take place in Dresden, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw and many other cities. This year Transkaukazja will continue and expand its focus in promoting approachable, high-standard, joint interdisciplinary artistic undertakings across the Caucasus and Europe.



Here you will find just some of the Transkaukazja 2011 headliners. Keep up with us! Check for more details of Transkaukazja artists, local programs and more!

Natural Born Lovers

One of the Caucasus’ best blues/soul bands, the group represents the soul of downtown Tbilisi, with great Georgian instrumentalists and a charismatic front-man (vocal/harmonica): the Mexican-American Paul Rimple. Together with the best Polish sax/trumpet/trombone players as a horn section, they will form the core of a new music project: the Transkaukazja All-Star Band.


An all-girl vocal group from Yerevan, established in 1995, the group performs jazz and swing standards to new arrangements of Armenian traditional songs. Jazzel will also take part in the Transkaukazja All-Star Band during the Warsaw concert.

Natiq’s Rhythm Group

Natig Shirinov and his group is one of the world’s best drummer bands. Using various traditional Azeri instrument--like the zurna, the balaban, the tutek (whistle flute), but mostly the Nagara--the band creates a unique show you can not miss. During Transkaukazja 2011, the group will perform in Germany and Poland (also in framework of Transkaukazja All-Star Band).






Open Studio 2 presentation of works of artists from the Caucasus living in Austria


Mirror Alley & ’Sampling Austria’* – public art projects in Vienna out-door locations by artists from Caucasus Open Studio 3 presentation of works of artists from the Caucasus living in Austria Video art from AZ & GE @ NowWow Kino, Vienna University of Applied Arts Youth work in Caucasus presentation @ ÖOG-IZK (6 June) Concerts Mobile video & photo exhibition

Video art from AM (Lusine Talalyan) @ NowWow Kino, Vienna University of Applied Arts (22 March)

Photo exhibition, Alte Feuerwache Loschwitz Gallery (January/February)

Marshrutka parties in Leipzig, Chemnitz and Dresden

Transkaukazja@Atelier: Art in Residence program of artists from Tbilisi (GE), Yerevan and Gyumri (AM)

Transkaukazja@ Festival: Lustgarten Festival (17-19 June), Musik zwischen den Welten (19 June) in Dresden Transkaukazja@ Atelier: Art in Residence program and final presentations (mid June)





Photo exhibition, Klinger Gallery (November 2010 – January 2011)

Marshrutka opening parties – starting residency program of artists from Tbilisi/GE and Yerevan/AM (mid April)

Residency program of artists from Tbilisi/GE and Yerevan/AM Oelsnitz/Erzg. Photo exhibition, Stadtbibliothek

Actions in public spaces - residency program (mid June)

Transkaukazja main concert & outdoor events – central area of Warsaw (25-26 June) Site-specific actions by artists from AM, AZ, GE in varied parts of the city









MARCH AND BEFORE ’Warm up’ activities: Concert (Buddhuza), Caucasian Dances course, Open Studio 1 (Natia Kalandadze, GE) & others including: movie screening at This Human World festival, presentations, discussions, etc. (August 2010 – February 2011)


Art in public spaces – research, open-call/preselection, implementation of actions in non-gallery spaces in Armenia & Georgia (January-April)



Travel in the mind to Tbilisi – marshrutka trips (2 trips on 2 & 3 July)



Photo exhibition – Georgia (C.Grill, S.Wöber) @ Pawlatsche Gallery, University of Vienna (November/December)

Bouillon group (GE) – residency & action (end of June/ beginning of August) Other activities*: mobile video exhibitions, open public presentations


Concert @ ‘Sun Flower’ (29-31 July)


Concert @ “La Pampa”

Film festival (mid June)* Site-specific actions by artists from AM, AZ i GE in varied parts of the city


Photo exhibition, Atelier Gallery (October/ November)*

AM – Armenia, AZ – Azerbaijan, GE – Georgia, * - to be confirmed

International conference – “Sounds without Borders” Workshop, Exhibition and Concerts, Scheune Music Centre (28 - 30 October)



Warsaw-based organization, which includes the initiators of Transkaukazja Festival, was established in 2006. Foundation is active in fields of human rights, art, multiculturalism and development cooperation. It runs such programs and projects as: Continent Warsaw – web portal about multicultural Warsaw www.kontynent., pilotage of Warsaw Multicultural Center, Chechen center of culture and education ‘Sintar’ (together with Chechen diaspora in Warsaw), Multicultural Warsaw Street Party – the biggest event for integration of immigrants in Poland, Tibetan Program – to develop proTibetan, human rights movement in Poland, Russia-info Program – for human rights in Russia, ArtZone - alternative Polish days in Caucasus, Frozen Moments. Architecture Speaks Back - context-responsive art project in Tbilisi and many others. Foundation organized Transkaukazja Festivals in 2007 and 2009. Transkaukazja team in Poland: Witek Hebanowski, Julia Missala, Beata Szcześniak


AICA-Armenia, National Association of Art Critics, was established in the year 2005. It was created by art historians working in various fields of art criticism, education and exhibitions in order to change the legacy of the Soviet past with its rejection and subjugation of any kind of criticism to the totalitarian ideology on the one hand and the present-day market with its total rejection of public opinion expression. Interested in Armenian and International modern and contemporary art, its members try to reestablish the double responsibility of art criticism – spreading critical perception on artists and society in respect of art history in all diversity of its contemporary expressions. We have been doing it by organizing exhibitions, festivals and other events covering conferences, seminars, public discussions, art historical research; by defending professional copyright and moral interests of the critics in cultural-public relations, by establishing ties with international art organizations and implementation of exchange programs; and many other activities. Transkaukazja team in Armenia: Vahram Aghasyan, Nazareth Karoyan, Eva Khachatryan


Interkulturelles Zentrum (IZ) is an independent non-profit organization based in Vienna, Austria, aiming at the enhancement of intercultural relations both on national and international level. IZ promotes the development of communication between people of different cultural origin and educates people to carry out practical, intercultural work. Since 1987, IZ has been supporting international school partnerships, cross-border co-operation in the field of education, international youth work, as well as intercultural education and diversity management in Austria and abroad. In January 2007 Interkulturelles Zentrum became the National Agency for the EU- Programme “Youth in Action”. In recent years, the Caucasus has become one of the focus areas of IZ’s international activities through projects such as “South Caucasus- A Part of Europe”, or “Education Cooperation across the Caucasus”. Interkulturelles Zentrum implements Transkaukazja Festival in cooperation with the Austrian–Caucasian Society which was founded in 2003 and runs various activities and events, including a Chechen children dance group. Transkaukazja team in Austria: Daniela Mussnig, Joanna Pawłowska, Tatia Skhirtladze, Siegfried Wöber




Kultur Aktiv promotes cultural exchange between Western and Eastern Europe, with regional focuses on Caucasus, Belarus, Macedonia/Kosovo and others. Each year we serve approximately 100 largescale projects and smaller activities with hundreds of artists on travel and dozens of thousands of guests in Central and Eastern European countries. Kultur Aktiv uses its cultural events as an instrument for reflecting and activating cultural, social and political processes in these regions and comparing with those in Germany.

is a Prague-based cosmopolitan union of people, whose cultural activities are directed to initiate and support various art projects in Eastern Europe. The main aim is to discover new layers of hidden cultures and communities, to make them visible, and to create space where cultural dialogues could be possible. Eastern Alliance was founded in 2005, as a parallel cultural program of Umelec international magazine and Divus publishing house that enables close cooperation and networking of magazines all over the world.

Transkaukazja team in Germany: Meri Charukhchyan Marcus Oertel Elena Pagel

Transkaukazja team in Czech: Alena Boika, William Hollister Ivan Mecl Jiri Ptacek


TUTU (Parrot) Children’s Cultural Centre is a non-governmental, non-political, non-religious, non-profit organization founded in the City of Baku by local artists, writers, musicians, physicians, teachers, actors, scientists, etc. TUTU’s mission is to foster proper conditions for next generation‘s independent creative development, personal confirmation and bringing up in accordance with the international democratic principles. The organization’s main activities are focused on publishing quality literature for children, and on initiating various cultural, environmental and civic education projects. In 2010 TUTU participated in Go East conference organized by Adam Mickiewicz Institute & Warsaw Municipality, training program organized by Goethe Institute, etc. TUTU is co-partner of Transkaukazja from 2004. Transkaukazja team in Azerbaijan: Tarlan Gorchu, Jahangir Selimkhanov, Sabiina Shikhlinskaya

NEW ART UNION / კავშირი „ახალი ხელოვნება“ (GEORGIA)

New Art Union was established in 1998 in Tbilisi. Its main aim is to promote the development of contemporary Georgian art together with Art of South Caucasus. The organization is focused on forming more cultural and educational spaces, on promoting new ideas and developing creative projects, on co-operating with art-sector, mass media, executive institutions, government and nongovernmental organizations, with private business representatives in Georgia and on coordinating with partners from Caucasus and EU countries. In 1999, ‘’New Art Gallery” was established on the basis of organization. From 2000, creative studios-laboratories have been operating with the New Art Union, in developing innovative methods in different spheres of art. Since 2002 several projects have been accomplished with our partners from Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding in developing cultural policy and art market, implementing various art projects, stimulating creative approach and encouraging public participation in cultural life. Since 2005 New Art Union is a co-partner of Transkaukazja. Transkaukazja team in Georgia: Rusudan Oat, Elene Rakviashvili, Wato Tsereteli


KEY SPONSORS & PARTNERS. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission in the framework of the Culture Programme 2007-2013 (Strand 1.3 - Cooperation with third countries)

Project co-financed by Warsaw City Hall and Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen.


CREDITS. Photos Front cover – Transkaukazja 2009 audience in Warsaw. Page 2 – above: Diorama of G. Chakhava, Caucasus mountains; below: opening of the Frozen Moments. Architecture Speaks Back. Page 3 – from above: Mamadou Diouf and Gia Beżuaszwili, Transkaukazja 2007; Seving Pirizade, no title from Transkaukazja 2009 “All & Now” exhibition; Natig Shirinov, Transkaukazja 2009, Page 4 – Former Ministry of Transport of Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic by G. Chakhava. Page 6 –“Time disappers in Time” video of Ilia Zautashvili, Transkaukazja 2007; Bambir, Transkaukazja 2007. Page 7 - Flying Ministry - action by Agnieszka Kurant, Frozen Moments. Architecture Speaks Back; Action of Bouillon group from ArtZona 2009. Page 9-10 – Mikhail Gogrichiani “Tracer Bullets” from Transkaukazja 2009 “All & Now” exhibition.

People Texts: Slavs and Tatars, Witek Hebanowski, Han Xu. Proofreading: William Hollister, Han Xu. Photos: Michał Książkiewicz, Łukasz Giersz, materials of artists and curators. Design: Konrad Basan. Editing: Witek Hebanowski.

This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. © Fundacja Inna Przestrzeń / The Other Space Foundation, Warsaw 2011



as spectator, volunteer or sponsor! Transkaukazja gives you a great opportunity to reach out to new audiences. Original promotional campaigns, various events in European cities with a total population of more than 6.5 mln – together with a joint message of Caucasian and European artists, curators, activists. Learn more at

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