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Difficile de s’inscrire dans le courant de l’hyperréalisme en 2007, tendance artistique épuisée depuis près de trente ans. Il faut un certain courage pour cela, l’artiste arménien Sebo l’a eue. Aller à contre courant, à tort ou à raison. On comprend, dans son discours, le rejet d’une forme de totalitarisme (qui s’exprime, notamment, symboliquement, par la fragmentation de la représentation) puisqu’il n’est pas sans faire écho à la mondialisation (ses tableaux n’évoquent-ils pas, en faisant ouvertement référence à des marques automobiles de renommée internationale) au grand capital ? Un discours politique, donc ? Pas vraiment, lorsque l’on écoute l’artiste : « Mon but est de rentrer en contact avec la surface. (…)Les questions que je me pose sont généralement celles de la surface puisque ce que je cherche avant tout est de rentrer en contact avec la surface, devenir souple et lisse… ».

chevy at ganey taaruha / 2005 / oil on canvas

Surface, surface, surface. Alors, du coup, si l’art ou l’artiste tient à rester à la « surface », il s’agirait peut-être, non pas d’une forme d’expression de l’humilité de l’artiste mais plutôt de son refus d’une quelconque implication idéologique. D’un coup de pied dans la fourmilière de l’art post soviétique, résolument enclin à régler ses comptes avec l’art d’Etat, le réalisme socialiste pour ne pas le nommer, ses victimes aussi, c’est-à-dire tous les courants artistiques qui s’y sont opposés, en se positionnant eux aussi sur un terrain idéologique. Et pourquoi pas après tout. Si la surface convient à Sebo, nous renouons avec une tradition picturale non tendancieuse qui a fait les beaux jours de l’histoire de la peinture. Mais qui pourrait être également interprétée au second degré. L’artiste estime manifestement que son œuvre parle pour lui. La représentation, quoi. claude ravant aïgui / 2007

i refuse of making choices i choose only what is reflected i am amased on my ability to conform

self portrait / 2006


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1997-Artist’s workshop, Hakop Kojoyan art school 1986-The artists studio’s director, State Children’s Library 1987-90-Member of “3rd floor” 1976-86-Karlen Hovsepian’s art studio 1980-86-Yerevan State Fine arts institute 1976-80-Terlemezyan College of art, Yerevan 1972-76-“Kojoyan “art school Exhibitions 1995 -“Armenien” Museum Bochum,Germany “The modern art of Armenia 1980-95” Moscow, artists union 1996 -“....The After....” TAAK Modern art gallery, Yerevan “Exchange” TAAK Modern art gallery, Yerevan “Geopolitical card” action, Yerevan-Tbilisi –Yerevan “Cultural Plein-Aire” action at the “NPAK” ,centre for experimental art ,Yerevan 1997 -“Geo-Kunst Expedition” alternative project /Documenta X/ Yerevan –Moscow – Frankfurt am Main-Kassel-Kassel-Frankfurt am Main-Moscow –Yerevan 2001 1999 - Coordinator, Painting Division, “Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental art. /ACCEA/ 2001 - 49th Venice biennale, Venice, Italy

CONCEPTION THE PRIVATIZATION OF TRANSVERSE TRIAL THE METHOD----FIXATION, REPRESENTATION THE PRODUCT----FICTION THE MATERIAL----RELATIONSHIP THE PROPOSAL----COAUTHORITY


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co-editor of the magazine “actual art”. project director, design studio “a-art graphics”. professor of architecture at Yerevan State University of architecture. Exhibitions 1988 1996,1997

1996 1997 2006

House of Architects “Heton” (“The after”), TAAK Gallery, Yerevan “DaDasakayn art-iv”, TAAK Gallery, Yerevan “ex-change” TAAK Gallery, Yerevan “Work in progress”at opening of NPAK -ACCEA (centre of contemporary experimental art) “15-35. 97” NPAK-ACCEA “Euroremont”, NPAK- ACCEA

This is not a minimalist or reductionist gesture as it might seem, rather a gesture of recognition and affirmation. The page is a fact; it is a page of a new revue with attributing requisites. I erase nothing, at the same time I do not make projections or presuppositions about revue’s nature. Neither it is seen as a place for an author’s self-advertisement, since it is an issue of a new name. My version plays on a-actual art editors’ idea: a project of presenting multiple cover pages inside. It is both a cover page and a regular page at the same time. It questions page numbering, which is different regarding which page is considered to be the #1. Usually cover pages are not subject to numbering. A regular page can be a cover, since there are several magazines combined in one without commingling which turns the sequence into a mere technical issue. Dispersion of options does not witness the inability to make a decision about the cover. It rather intends, as I understand the editorial idea, to present an author unmediatedly by her/his direct collaboration, instead of usual art-historical/critical representations, transforming magazine issuing into a chance for an art event. Referential texts are not excluded but self-present themselves alongside with the artists genuine work intended originally in the print format. Although the participating magazines are from close related regions, the contributing authors present wider geography. This is the author’s reply which emphasizes the editorial idea by questioning it. Remarks have no pretension of author’s signs; they were kindly made by the editors after my request.

Ce n’est pas un geste minimaliste ou réductionniste, comme il pouvait en avoir l’air, mais plutôt un geste de reconnaissance ou d’affirmation. La page est un fait, c’est une page d’une nouvelle revue aux éléments caractéristiques. Je n’efface rien, et en même temps je ne fais aucune projection ou présupposition quant à la nature de la revue. Je ne la considère pas non plus comme un espace pour l’auto-publicité de l’auteur, car c’est une publication avec un nouveau nom. Ma version joue sur une idée d’un rédacteur artistique : un projet de présenter plusieurs pages de couverture à l’intérieur. C’est à la fois une page de couverture et une page ordinaire. Cela met en question le numérotage des pages, lequel sera différent en fonction de la page qui est considérée comme no 1. D’habitude, les pages de couvertures ne sont pas numérotées. Une page ordinaire peut servir de page de couverture, car il y a plusieurs revues combinées en une seule sans être amalgamées, ce qui rend la succession une question purement technique. La dispersion des options ne fait pas preuve d’incapacité de prendre une décision sur la couverture. Elle entend plutôt, selon ma compréhension de l’idée rédactionnelle, de présenter un auteur sans intermédiaire, par sa collaboration directe, au lieu des présentations habituelles historiques/critiques de l’art, en transformant la publication de la revue en une occasion d’un événement artistique. Les textes de référence ne sont pas exclus, mais se présentent euxmêmes parallèlement au travail authentique de l’artiste pensé initialement en format d’impression. Bien que les revues participantes soient des régions rapprochées, les auteurs-collaborateurs présentent une géographie plus vaste. C’est la réponse de l’auteur qui souligne l’idée rédactionnelle en s’interrogeant là-dessus. Les commentaires n’ont aucune prétention à la signature de l’auteur ; elles ont été faites par les rédacteurs après ma demande. misak khostikyan / 2007


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2OO7 O R E Z K E B Z A K D R CO INTERNATIONAL REVUE T R A Y R A R O P M E T CON IN THIS ISSUE:

NEZIA LA BIENNALE DI VE -CENTER 10 COM+ RS ART-VILLA GARIKULA VE TATION: 10 CO EN ES PR RE . VS N PRESENTATIO ART BUS PROJECT MENTS

Q&A* Q. We were arguing with donors of the revue about clustering us by historio-geographical location. And your cover is doing that - just what we were against to. A. Kazbek is a brand. It was born in the early Soviet era. I don’t believe that in those times they do care about geographic representation: there were cigarettes with “geographic” names like Kazbek, Belomorcanal, Java, Bulgarian Shipka, but there were also a bunch of titles not connected with location. It was just a good name with dynamic visual picture. (Another example is the last scene of “The Cheery Fellows”, the 30-es movie where the crew stands affront a background picture of high mountains. It implies no certain place, but symbolizes height, purity, joyfulness or happy future). Indeed, Soviets were trying not to emphasize and encourage issues connected with nationalities, regions, etc seeing them as a destructive manifestation of separatism. It was multinational country with supraethnic goals. Ironically the Kazbek Rider received its identity and transformed from exotic label into real person after independence of FSU countries and painful experience in divorcing between fifteen soviet republics. Now one can clearly state that the rider is a Caucasian man, not in U.S. meaning of a white-skinned person with European origin, but in Russian pejorative meaning of a “black”, an alien from the Caucasus region. Q. We feature artists not only from Caucasus in the part presented by “a -actual art”...Why the rider appears on the CORD cover? A. I could tell you that Kazbek Rider is the creation of Robert Grabbe, Latvian artist from Odessa. And first time it came into public view on the cover of Eduard Bagritski’s poetry

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book named “South-West”. Later on when the artist got a contract with cigarette factory to design a cigarette box he simply copied it from the book. This is a true story, with suggestive possibility to bridge the book title with the CORD project. But this was not a real reason. I followed some debates around CORD and saw fragments of future magazine. It made me doubt that it is not regional, representing nations, cities and other big things. Sure in future it should scale down to author’s level, when individuals represent own work regardless birth origin and place of living. I also noticed that “kazbek approach” is not only what participants generated, but it conforms to the donor’s stereotypes - a little bit ethnic features that distinguish, you, South/East, from the North/West and make you attractive due to exotic smell.

Works for U.S. department of agriculture. He recieved his advanced degree in agricultural engineering. Levon, who also dabbles in farm management, has held a faculty position at the university for 14 years. He has interest in soft systems thinking, participation, group dynamics. Recent research is devoted to slaughterhouse construction and robotic behavior adobtion by humans. Volunteered to co-edit a-actual art magazine since the beginning.

Q. You seem to reanimate the old stereotypes and reinforce geographic territorial identification. Irony turns into a cynical gesture. A. The cover reflects the content. Indeed, the content of the revue is natural for the first collaborative attempt between different people living in the problematic region. And for the first effort to get together borders are inevitable. Unless participants will create common vocabulary through further discussions –we were talking about that with you couple of months before – which will bring to the next step of prevalence of mutually important topics to which every artist can contribute. After the publication of the initial issue hope it will happen. And we will move from nationally represented sections into topic-oriented materials. Regardless nations and regions… Q. So what the Kazbek brand introduction tells us? A. The message could be the following: there are three paths which Kazbek Rider can take: 1. To stay as a Kazbek Rider, the Caucasian rural dweller with specific sets of values and unique perspective. 2. To stop somewhere, get out of the horse, take a break and start to think about who is he and what he wants to do. 3. To become a Marlboro Man –a Western analogue of Kazbek Rider. Q. The presence of the airplane: is it just an opposition of brands or nostalgic parallel of trademarks of failed systems? A. It is a picture of Japanese Mitsubishi Zero, one of the best seaborne fighters of WWII. It had no competitors in the Pacific Seat of War. It is a legend, in this sense it is the best representation of digit zero. And the serial number of the initial issue of the revue is zero… Failed system has no connection with the technological advancement. Countries are usually on their economic peak when they come up with progressive ideas. Later on they may fail or not –this is another issue. It is true with unbelievabely futuristic German technique, Soviet space projects, U.S. supercomputers and tons of other things. Including Mitsubishi Zero. These are standards. Q. What about the background? Where are this two signs located? A. Both objects are placed on the two-dimensional flat surface resembling the revue’s page both by size and color. * Q : a- actual art magazine A : levon gyulkhasyan


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Born 1960, 16.04, Yerevan Founder of 3rd Floor art group 2007 “Armenie contemporaine: une actualite de l’art video”, Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art “d’Armenie”, Center for Contemporary Art Quimper “Armenian contemporary video art”, Toulouse. Espace Croix Baragnon 2006 “Armenian International Style”, group show, Akanat gallery, Yerevan 2004 Art Caucasus, Tbilisi, Georgia 2003 “Adieu Parajanov – contemporary art from Armenia” Kunsthalle, Vienna, Austria “East-West” festival of Armenian culture, Die, France 1999 “Three Tendencies”, group show, HAY-ART c.c., Yerevan 1998 “Identity”, performance, Art Congress of the Artists of RA, Dilijan First international Gyumri Biennale, Gyumri 1997 47th Venice Biennale

Au centre d’Erévan se trouve un parc, tout près du café « Kazirok ». Dans ce même parc, en octobre1980, on devait inaugurer la troisième ou quatrième exposition en plein air. Au milieu de ce parc, se dressait une grosse pierre cubique, d’un mètre et demi de haut environ, sur laquelle on avait placardé l’inscription suivante: « Ici sera érigée la statue de Martiross Sarian. » Deux heures avant l’ouverture de l’exposition, j’ai placé sur ce piédestal une lessiveuse avec l’inscription « Néo-Dada victorieux ». La lessiveuse était peinte couleur zèbre. Cet objet allait déjà attirer l’attention, au début des années 70, sur le problème du merchandising lié à l’évolution de notre art. Cette action provoqua un scandale, les jeunes communistes, organisateurs de l’exposition, confisquèrent la lessiveuse. En revanche, j’ai eu l’occasion de faire connaissance avec de jeunes artistes actifs qui avaient l’habitude de se retrouver dans le café « Kazirok ». C’est justement ce cercle d’amis qui fut à l’origine du mouvement artistique « Troisième étage » durant la « Pérestroïka ». En Arménie, cette première phase de l’art contemporain avait pour but de réhabiliter les traditions du modernisme qui étaient bannies de l’esprit public. Au début du XX siècle, au sein de l’art moderne arménien, la tradition du futurisme et du constructivisme avait été, par la suite, tellement dénaturée et exposée à la censure que, seul l’activisme radical du mouvement « Dada » pouvait contribuer à dégriser le spectateur qui se trouvait alors influencé par l’art « tsékhavik »* qui prédominait à cette époque. En effet, le futurisme arménien, dans ses manifestations les plus réussies, était plus proche du Dadaïsme. En dépit du fait que l’Union Soviétique, durant les premières années de son existence, ait promulgué un mot d’ordre : « Electrification + socialisme = communisme », bientôt il fut clair que dans le domaine de la culture et de l’art, la tendance de sa politique était d’empêcher et d’arrêter toute sorte d’innovation, d’entraver l’apparition des nouvelles technologies dans le domaine de la création artistique. Chez nous, la pénétration de matériaux et de moyens technologiques nouveaux au sein des arts traditionnels était perçue comme une manière de vouloir prendre durablement possession de la pyramide du pouvoir. La question de savoir quels matériaux utilise un peintre pour travailler : huile, toile ou photo, objets usuels ou même son propre corps, qui semble formelle à première vue, sinon qu’elle ressortit au domaine professionnel, se transformait en une problématique liée à la conception du monde, et même une problématique politique. A partir de 1992, après l’indépendance du pays, l’art contemporain d’Arménie se trouve au commencement d’une période nouvelle inhérente à la mise en place d’institutions alternatives. Cela permit de déplacer le regard des artistes des problèmes de langage formels en matière d’art vers les problèmes socio-politiques. Des centres d’art, tels que Goyak, TAAC, NPAC, EX-VOTO, Hay-art, Centre d’Art contemporain de Gumri, Utopiana, fournirent une aide considérable à la réalisation de l’art actuel en Arménie. arman grigorian * Durant l’ère soviétique, les « tsékhavik » appartenaient à une couche de la bourgeoisie, qui au début menait des activités clandestines. Au cours de la « Pérestroyka », ils ont bénéficié d’un dispositif légal et ont contribué largement à la chute du régime soviétique.


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(...) De son enfance, Emile a gardé le goût des bonbons aux couleurs acidulées et des jouets amis. De son adolescence, il conserve l’insouciance seventies et ses représentations musicales anglo-saxonnes faites de strass, de lunettes extravagantes, de chemises bariolées et de pin-up sur papier glacé. De ces songes enchantés, il enfante des images, troublants reflets d’un monde rêvé, dominé par le plaisir. Il fait des images oniriques et réjouissantes, d’une nature délicieusement invraisemblable mais parfaitement cohérentes et harmonieuses. Cependant, dans ces paysages chatoyants se dissimulent d’inquiétantes irruptions de l’imaginaire: sexes mutilés, bouches sanguinolentes, leurres assassins qui contrastent brutalement avec les représentations idylliques de l’age de l’innocence. Avec ses représentations hybrides, Emile Morel dissèque la condition humaine au scalpel allégorique. (...)

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jérôme bourgeois /artension / juillet 2005

les mamelles de la voie-lacté e / 2007 / dessin numé rique

Depuis sa plus tendre enfance, Emile dessine. Dans les marges de ses cahiers, il dissout son ennui et se façonne un monde magique et virtuel. Le dessin restera un compagnon de route constant jusque dans ses études aux beaux-arts de Lyon, qu’il quittera brutalement face au conformisme idiot de l’institution. S’en suivra une petite traversée du désert balisée de petits boulots imbéciles, période dépressive qui finira de façonner son univers. A trente ans, il rencontre Albert Benamou, éminent galeriste parisien qui lui permet de vivre pleinement de son art. Aujourd’hui Emile expose et jubile de partager son univers alternatif et magique dans le monde.


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It is an attempt to try philosophically emphasizing the role of light in human’s fate. Blue sky in a shape of letter “D” at the top of the building and geometrical construction of the building itself visually underlines and helps to develop photo’s concept main line. First impression of the picture is feeling of being some where far from the life and from main source of light like in deep and dark well. Somehow, all people on the planet Earth are in the well. There are no suggestions and no decisions at least because there is light at the end… light at the end of the long well as long as live… and, I think, there is always a chance to get out of the well. The only difference between people’s mind, that some are able to see the light and even get out of the well, others are not, those are sleeping being alive.

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chingiz

the dome”/ photo / 1996 / vienna / austria

1983-1991 2003-2007 1997-2000 1996-Present

2005-2006 2005 1999 2007 2006 2005-2006 2005-2006 2004 - 2005 2002-2003 2002 1998

Azerbaijan State University of Arts, Baku Board member, Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation, Baku, Azerbaijan Sculptor- The Tussauds Group Studios, UK Founder and President-Arts etc… Center for Contemporary Culture, Baku, Azerbaijan Lecture - Azerbaijan, a view from inside, Depot, Messepalace, Vienna, Austria “Art in America”, Annual Guide – galleries, museums, artists- sourcebook to the U.S. art world, 2005-2006 museums preview, New York, USA “Ceramics TECHNICAL” magazine, Australia Textile Art Magazine, Tokyo, Japan “OMNIA MEA”, the Pavilion of Azerbaijan, 52nd International Art Exhibition, Venice Bienniale, Italy “Transfusion”, Liestal, Switzerland International Art Project, “Ecotopia”, Berlin, Germany International Art Project, “Border Dialogues” - The Barents Art Triennial Neiden, Kirkenes, Norway; Murmansk, Lovozero, Russia International Project, “The Tile Project”, Destination: The world, Public Art, USA – Azerbaijan - Finland Photo-Video Centre, Tessaloniki, Greece University Marc Block /Solo/, Strasbourg, France Pitshanger Manor & Gallery, UK

Works represented in collections in Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, USA, UK, Austria, Italy, Estonia, France, Poland, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Dominican Republic.


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Écho à l’œuvre de Rajak Ohanian ” Des profondeurs de la terre… ”

Il y eut ces temps géologiques dits carbonifères

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Il y eut ces temps préhistoriques et leurs reliques de “ débris de taille ” : lames, couteaux et racloirs

d e s p ro f o n d e u r s d e l a t e r re …

1933, Rajak Ohanian naît à Lyon, le 11 Octobre. Fils de Garo Ohanian, né à Césarée (Asie Mineure) et de Téopisté, née à Brousse (Asie Mineure); 1958, premiers portraits, (Gaston Bachelard, Roger Vailland…) 1960 à 1975, il photographie entre autres les mises en scènes de Roger Planchon, Jacques Rosner et Patrice Chéreau au théâtre de la Cité, puis au T.N.P de Villeurbanne. Continue ses portraits (O. Welles, R. Mamoulian, B-Van Velde…) 1973, “New York”. Premier voyage aux Etats-Unis. 1974, l’Algérie. Alger, Oran, Tlemcen, Bel Abbes. 1979, il s’installe dans un village de 44 habitants et y reste deux ans. Il en sort “Portrait d’un village” - SainteColombe-en-Auxois. (44 portraits de 1,80 x1,20 m) 1987, il retourne aux Etats-Unis, à Chicago pendant deux ans, et réalise sa suite “À Chicago” - Portrait d’une ville” (16 photos 3m x 3,5m) 1991, il s’installe en Bretagne pour travailler sur “Métamorphoses I”- Littoral Breton... Il continue ses portraits (P. Klossowski, L. Aragon, R. Serra, J-N. Vuarnet…). 1998, “Portrait d’une P.M.E”, le portrait d’une entreprise d’impression sur tissus. Il continue ses portraits (A. Pelechian,C. Parmiggiani…). Réalisation pour la Communauté Urbaine de Montceau-les-mines-Le-Creusot: “Des profondeurs de la terre…“ (3m x 3m) 2002 «Sur la route»,exposition du Musée Nicéphore Nièpce de Chalon s/Saône. 2005/2006, il se rend à Alep pour y chercher les traces de son père. Il en sort “Alep, 1915...2005”

Il y eut ces temps de seigneuries de châtellenies et de prévôtés de successions et de donations princières d’archiprêtrés et de chapelles castrales de rapines et de famines de chartes et de franchises communales Il y eut ces temps d’herbages et de terres labourables de landes et de terres incultes de bois et de forêts Il y eut ces temps de fonçage de charbon de fond et de charbon “ en découverte ” de chevalets et de terrils de cribles et de lavoirs de cafés et de fanfares d’affaissements et de fissures de « baisers bien doux » de fierté et de gens en armes de débris et de gravats de « cimetière américain » Il y a ce temps suspendu d’un soleil noir irradiant encore Il y a cette matité lumineuse du fruit ovoïde Il y a, venu des profondeurs de la terre, ce temps à jamais aux limites du temps cette mémoire indécidable de lacs et de marais cette empreinte primaire de mers et de forêts Il y aura eu le témoin, nommé photographe, d’une percolation primordiale

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re: cord mego, zdes ochen napriajyonniy grafik. ia pomniu chto prisilala ego cv. etu rabotu ia nashla na stene v venecii, kogda xodili posmotret guggenhaim museum. guela bil tam do nas. on chasto risuet etot obraz na stenax. ix polno v tbilisi eto kak bi ego vizitnaia kartochka. ya budu v tbilisi 11 septembrya.

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magda

anything for love / graphitty / venice / 2007

Born in 1959, Tbilisi, Georgia. Lives and works in Tbilisi and Paris. Selected Exhibitions and Events 2000 – ‘Les Trônes’, Santa Barbara, (LA, U.S.A). 2001 – ‘Sardapi’ Gallery, Tbilisi. 2002 – ‘Carpet & Design’, Siroux-Taki Gallery, Paris. 2003 – ‘En attendant la guerre et la St. Valentin’, Comité de Salut Artistique, Paris. 2003 – ‘Liberté’, for the Roses Revolution, Tbilisi. 2004 – 1st auction sell at Tajan, lot n°772, Paris. 2005 – ‘House of Caucasus’, Paris. 2007 – ‘Light Box’ tapestries for the French Ambassador in Georgia.


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Born in 1980, Yerevan, Armenia EDUCATION 1998-2004 M.F.A Yerevan Academy of Arts, Armenia EXHIBITIONS 2007 “Armenie contemporaine: une actualite de l’art video”, Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art 2007 “Armenian contemporary video art”, Toulouse. Espace Croix Baragnon 2007 “Glorious futilities”, Saint Etienne Metropole Museum of Modern Art 2007 2nd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Monuments of our Discontent:Expiration of Place, Moscow, Winzavod 2006-07 “Art without borders” an exhibition of contemporary art from Armenia, Georgia, Iran and Turkey 2005 51st International art Biennale of Venice 2003 Adieu Parajanov Kunsthalle, Wien, Austria 2003 One man show “Instinct to create” , project in ACCEA, Yerevan, Armenia 2002 Gumry International Biennale-3, Armenia 2002 Migration of images , Utopiana, Yerevan, Armenia 2000 Civic commotion, ACCEA, Yerevan, Armenia 1999 Crisis, ACCEA, Yerevan, Armenia 1999 Tree tendencies, Hay-Art, Yerevan, Armenia 1998 10-30 Never mind, ACCEA, Yerevan, Armenia

Tigran Khachatryan is one of the significant representatives of the Left Discourse Activist Group. The group exhibition “Crisis” at NPAK in autumn 1999 was symbolic for this new tendency in art. Doubtless, one of the most impressive works was “The Tank” by Tigran Khachatryan. It was a packing cardboard tank close to real sizes made from boxes for household needs; the author collected them from the famous Firdusnots Trade Fair -a symbol of “free market relations” in post Soviet Armenia, the romantic dream of “primary capital ”accumulation”. Thousands of unemployed former soviet intellectuals and workers were driven to “charter flights” implementation as being in gold-rush era. They carried seducing “free world” emblems on their inclined backs selling and reselling unpatented copies of transnational corporations’ production made through exploitation of cheap labor. “The Tank” by Tigran Khachatryan displays the real face of the aggressive threat covered by aesthetic falsification. For the former Soviet Union citizens, who were brought up on “the labor worship”, the neo-liberal slogan Every Unemployed Citizen Must Himself Create Own Work Place sounded really persuasive as it was based on the same mass illusion. Tigran Khachatryan brings this idea to an outmost expression in his “Chinese Woman’s Brother” (2005) -a film from the “Garage Film” series. The film is shown in the car wash or car service workshops’ environment which is the symbol of physical work in the modern overcrowded cities full of personal cars. The author introduces himself as the brother of “Chinoise” by J.-L. Godart. He declaims the manifesto “Against dead labor”. His voice is calm and touching in contrast to his monumental face with immovable lips shot in black and white which occupies the whole screen. The English subtitle of the oral text in Armenian appears in red letters on the yellow running tape on the bottom of the screen. His silent sculptural face reminds us “proletarian icon” of the past century. As it was mentioned in the “Empire” by Antonio Negri, this is the proletarian who “has lost, but his work won”. In his “Garage Film” video series Tigran Khachatryan, re-staging the celebrated films of the classics, such as Parajanov, Godart, Tarkovski, Pazolini, tries to save the initial aspiration incentive for their creation, what we may call today “multiplicity”. This is the direct opposite of what is commonly stressed about these artists. “The Society of the Performance” always uses the same strategy to the living life. Those who can’t fit into already outlined world structure are immediately introduced as “exclusive”, “unique”, “individual” and are neutralized by turning into authority who suppresses the creative work of the audience. And Tigran Khachatryan has recently disseminated a slogan in Yerevan “No Authority to Nobody”. arman grigoryan fragments from “beyond the individuality” 12.04.07


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INTRODUCTION W

AZERBAIJAN

TO C O N T E M P O R A RY

OF

ART Teymur Daimi artist, filmmaker, PH.D.

riting about Azerbaijan contemporary visual art any investigator faces conceptual problem consisting in paradoxical situation of invisible existence of what generally marked as contemporary art. Azerbaijan contemporary culture during transition period of state political independence has been harrowed by two contradictive vectors: on the one hand Azerbaijan creative people are profoundly sunk into the constant researches of meta-ethnic identity while the second vector is about artist’s needs to be integrated in global cultural context. It makes real problem which could never been appeared in western art because the contemporary art as a socio-cultural phenomenon was created by modernity and always considered to be an organic part of western civilization. Thus in other words may say that contemporary art as a western socio-cultural invention has been once brought in Azerbaijan traditional context as well as from the beginning of XX century it was gradually spread to all corners of the world. It coursed on the one hand subconscious resistance against modern innovations done by the older generations of official Azerbaijani artists who where formed in old soviet educated system which, in turn, was derivative of Russian academic painting school. On the other hand, more progressive part of artists of younger generations clearly understood that the contemporary art in globalization epoch was the only universal efficient cultural language in which modern people could communicate each other within international net and avoiding learning this language could directly lead any country to cultural isolation. Anyway in the end of 80s and beginning of 90s basing on achievements of non-conformist artists living in soviet time and inspired by European avant-garde Azerbaijani artists of new generation step-by-step discovered for themselves all art history of XX century: cubism, futurism, fauvism, surrealism, abstractionism, pop-art, conceptualism, poor art, etc., including most actual tendencies. All those trends were rapidly and creatively remade, modified and integrated by many artists into substance of their own art, being or-


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ganically combined with individual stylistic techniques and personal ideology. In many respects the basic power lines of contemporary art development in Azerbaijan then are mostly defined by the activity of several artists such as Chingiz, Amirbek Narimanbekov, Teymur Daimi, Azer Djafarli and a number of other (young at that time) artists who began to do the visual experiments in characteristic and already traditional forms of contemporary art: assemblage installations performance and action. It was of fundamental importance in the context of contemporary Azerbaijani art of that time. Before that in their formal searches and experiments the nonconformist artists of soviet period and even later in Gorbachev’s times preferred to remain within the limits of traditional kinds of the arts: painting, drawing and sculpture. In the same years some artists were gathering in the groups, coordinated their efforts in the frames of the common platform for increasing modern art impact on mass mentality. Thus, in 1989 one of the first informal artistic groups “Tasdig” appeared on the “scene” of Azerbaijani modern art (Samir Kafarov, Teymur Daimi, Amirbek Narimanbekov, Elmar Amiragov). It should be necessarily mentioned that the group existed for a short time (just for two and half years - since 1989 to 1991) and split not because of internal crisis or ideological discrepancies but through realizing their uselessness and being out of social demand: creative activity of the group unfortunately fell at the most unlucky for Azerbaijan period, when attention of the community was fully focused on the sociopolitical problems. But even in frames of such a short time group participants have prepared program manifesto, issued group bulletin with main theoretical texts, and organized three exhibitions which altogether influenced certain artistic groups and tendencies. If to articulate a paradigmatic matrix of the contemporary art in Azerbaijan concerning that time and still keeping actuality it is pos-

sible to reveal three following basic power lines: traditionalism, (the ethnographic factor as a genetic metastructure, ‘call of blood’), conceptual strategy (going back to Duchamp and Kosuth and defining an intellectual vector of creative innovations) and, at last a “multimedia” postmodernist aesthetics. The latter is considered still to be a global paradigm, serving as a sign of the adaptation of local art scene to the context of world art. But regardless of unfavourable conditions of 90s - collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), declaration of the state independency in the same year, sequence of internal political conflicts (struggle for power…), economic crisis and onset of post-colonial “transition” period (still lasting), and eventually coming to power in 1993 of former communist leader G.Aliyev and establishment of flexible form of the totalitarian regime inevitably accompanied by accession of cult of personality, limitation of democratic freedom, prosperity of the corruption in government bodies and nation’s impoverishment etc. (to say the truth, majority of the above-mentioned points were typical for all former soviet countries) - the art yet kept on developing. Basic efforts and energy of the modern artists were directed towards creating the conditions of survival. One of the negative factors in 90’s was cultural isolation of Azerbaijan as a result of armed conflict with neighbouring country which produced an impartial image for the republic. Informational blockade resulted in suspension of receiving the information regarding art from other countries. It should be said that in an effort to intensify the artistic processes and, in first turn, overcome the informational shortage in 1997 in Baku was found “ARTS etc...” Centre for Contemporary Culture (founder and president of the Center is CHINGIZ). The initial plans of this organization were to work on addressing the need for cultural information and to establish new contacts with cultural organizations abroad. By virtue


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of the complex economic situation developed in the 90-s the president of the “ARTS etc...” Centre for Contemporary Culture, CHINGIZ, during 1994-1996 implementation of the number of interesting land-art projects in Europe that have rendered the significant influence on art processes inside the country (in particular on the land art development). 1995 -“Bother Stones”, LSAP- Landscape Art, Wachtberg/ Gars, Austria, 1996 -“Stone Trees” and “Handmade Carpet”, Arte Sella, Borgo Valsugana, Italy, projects: ‘Handmade Carpet’ and ‘Stone trees’, the same year in Austria has been executed the installation The White Symphony’. The most interesting is the project ‘Handmade Carpet’. Work represents the quadrangular form executed on the ground out of the wood skids, leaves and various fruits simulating the visual structure of Azerbaijani carpet (the symbolical image of dragon has served as a module of the composition). The feature of the work is consisting in the strict conceptual format of land art, initially assuming restraint and cold analytics of the approach. However, the work was executed in the bright colorful baroque manner inherent in the Azerbaijani national decorative art. It is necessary to note, that work has appeared the original calling card for the artist who, invited by some European art institutions, built a live carpet in another mental contexts (changing only the composition module and materials of “manufacturing”). The brightest work, the ‘live’ carpet created in Strasbourg Mark Block University (“SILK WAY”), at University of Arts, in 2002, within the Caucasian Project carried out by the European organization of cultural exchanges ‘Apollonia’. Later, in 2005 the artist created the next carpet (‘World Map’), within the framework of international project covering the territories of Northern Russia and Norway... Lack of actual context has generated such socio-cultural phenomenon as “internal immigration”, sharply defined in reasonable re-

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Orkhan Aslanov / “Stop war” / mixed media Elshan Ibragimov / From the project “Languages”

fusal of some artists of participation in official artistic process which demonstrates their aversion of social environment. Thus, Teymur Daimi in 90’s, after break-up of “Tasdig” group has radically refused exhibition activities and totally turned to introspective searching of “internal heaven”. In some of his art projects made in meta-disciplinary regime in the intersection of performance, body art and photography, such as “Archetype of the Woman” (1996), “Vanishing body” (1998), “Neo-Gobustan” (1999, last two ones in common with Ilgar Tahiri), “Golden Embryo” (2001), “Geo Creativity” (2001), “Galatea” (2001), and also in theoretical researches artist is trying to create the mental structure of alternative reality which would be perpendicular to the surrounding reality and being utopia (in frames of earthy mentality) of parallel “non-actual” existence - internal ontological heaven… In spite of all collisions of the “transition period”, by the beginning of III millennium situation in the modern art of Azerbaijan starting to improve gradually in 2000 on the basis of former artistic faculty of University of Arts and Culture the Academy of Arts was found which became the place for forming of the new generation of young artists, free of Soviet cultural program stereotypes. It can be stated that from 2000 the general situation in contemporary art of Azerbaijan is changing for the better compare to preceding times. This relative change, more exactly the revival and social activization occurs in many respects owing to organizational resources of two sign figures: Leyla Akhundzadeh (art historian and president of the Association on Support of Creative Initiatives “Zamanyn Ganadlary”, ) and CHINGIZ (as it was said before, artist, curator and president of the Center for contemporary Culture “ARTS etc”). Mostly the artists of young generation were the participants of the events organized by association ‘Zamanyn Ganadlary’ under leadership of L. Akhundzadeh. Already the first exhibition of this project revealed many young names and the creative groups not known before ‘Sex 2000’ (Babek Agaev, Ali Gasanov) and ‘Zamanin Ganadlari’ (Farid Abdullaev, Elshan Ibragimov, Faridbek Kerimov). It is also worthwhile to mention Gamid Ibbadulaev, Orkhan Guseinov and Fakhryia Mamedova. Despite of young age each of them has shown the bright originality and quite good acquaintance to intrinsic principles of actual art. For example, Orkhan Guseinov, enormously gifted artist, keeps to surprising art experts by the inexhaustible potential in the field of neo conceptual art. His artworks ‘The Life under the Ground’, ‘Outside the Euro standard’, etc. are vivid examples of innovations in the field of neo conceptual creativity in Azerbaijan. He is a very perspective, intellectual and articulated representative of a new wave of the Azerbaijani contemporary art. By virtue of a wide circulation of new technologies and communicative opportunities (cable TV, the Internet), having become the integral part of a daily life, young artists with greater interest and enthusiasm master the newest programs of digital technologies. Thereupon it is necessary to mention Rauf Khalilov, Djavid Gurbanov and Elshan Ibragimov. Despite the fact that the “Zamanyn Ganadlary”, is mostly associated with the young names Babi Badalov, the mature master having worked in many countries of the world, leads the vigorous activity within the organization. Babi Badalov amazes all with the


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passionate attitude and unpredictability. If many artists of new generation actively address to performance “Zamanyn Ganadlary”, as to the most mobile kind of actual art, Babi has transformed everyday life into the one never-ending performance, showing an example of the sacrificial attitude to the creativity. Thus, the artist has involuntarily put in pawn bases of a new kind of art - the Total Performance removing the opposition amid life and creativity. In his case, it is possible to speak about break of authenticity and ‘new sincerity’ in the modern art which till now is identified with the sphere of simulacras and postmodernist unscrupulousness. Since 2000, the association “Zamanyn Ganadlary”, implemented the number of large, interesting projects promoting the activation of art situation in Azerbaijan. 2001 - Musical Festival featuring happenings and performances (interesting experiments in sound and image interaction), the international actions: 2002 – “Orientalism - from inside and outside”, 2003 – “7 + 7 More Transparent” (a group exhibition of Azerbaijan and Georgian artists), “Aluminum. Art + New Technologies”, attended by the artists from twelve countries, 2005 – “Man and Woman”, “Aluminum. Transformation” etc. In all expositions has been stressed the propagation and distribution of such medias of contemporary art as the video (including digital), photo, computer graphics, performance. These events by being realized in rather wide scale with participants of foreign artists, reminded of big show projects associated with mass culture rather than contemporary art. I dare say that chief aim and meaning of such kind of expositions were to pay attention of society to the contemporary visual art as an important factor of Azerbaijan culture. Unlike the association “Zamanyn Ganadlary”, another important art institution - “ARTS etc...” Centre for Contemporary Culture”, has tried to constitute its activities in much more conceptualized format. Among the most significant actions of the Center were the projects ‘Ganli-Giol’, 2001, ‘Khali’, 2003. Along with art-ecological and social aspects, the project ‘Ganli-Giol’ was persuading the educational goals: many young artists for the first time tried themselves in the conceptual art new to them. Among ‘especially differed’ were Djavid Mamedov, Djavid Gurbanov, Elshan Ibragimov and Orkhan Kadimov employing the ecological performance. The project Khali was aiming at adaptation of stylistic language of the most ancient kind of Azerbaijani arts and crafts - a carpet - to the realities of modern electronic epoch and the psycho-physiological status of a perception of a modern person. Artists passed the specific carpet composition stylistics through a prism of contemporary Medias such as installations, video art, multimedia, computer graphics, photos, etc. All of activities of the Center were possible through financial support from Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation. However, even in cases when Open Society Foundation supports it it helps a lot in developing one-off art projects but it is only enough in early beginning stages of the project and there are no foundations or sponsors who wish to support contemporary art projects on continuous basis. So, unfortunately, now, due to insufficient financing, the “ARTS etc...” Centre for Contemporary Culture” has suspended its activities. Touching the whole situation in Azerbaijan contemporary art I can’t help saying that the contemporary art of Azerbaijan as the social phenomenon has paradoxical character for it is in a situation of full absence of conditions necessary for its development. If to consider, that territory of contemporary visual culture is composed by certain, historically approved elements, the integral components


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of an actual art life are: art-market, network of private galleries, modern art museums, art-critical and curatorial practices and presence of printed editions, it is possible to ascertain the fact of absence of contemporary art in Azerbaijan as institutional reality. Despite of all, the artists working in the sphere of contemporary art, strange as it may seem exist. For the last 10-15 years due to a certain political situation, a war with Armenia and the permanent instability initiated by the war channeled the public attention mostly to a socio-political plane. Therefore, the essential problems of culture taken in brackets were pushed on the periphery of attention. However, except of the objective reasons influencing culture as a whole, some subjective reasons exist inside the art context itself. The matter is that for years of the Soviet authority, in Azerbaijan there was a strong national school of fine arts, based on aesthetic values of world realistic art. The latter had been developing on a background of ideological struggle against so-called western modernist art, the

Soviet criticism was not considering as art at all. Despite of 13 years since the Soviet Union’s collapse and finding the state independence, in the Azerbaijani ‘art’ establishment (the elite core of which is made by the artists of senior and average generation, and also the spectator generated for many years) the prejudiced attitude to that is identified as the contemporary art is still kept on the mental plan. Inertial dynamics of the post Soviet art-attitudes hinders the development of modern culture if not openly at the unconscious level anyway. In this respect, the contemporary art of Azerbaijan differs from art of other countries, including even art of the countries of socialist camp. Still the processes of globalization taking place in the world, integration of Azerbaijan into the European social and cultural structures, an urgent need of society in critical discourses and passionate events also an output of new generation free of the burdens of Soviet stereotypes, allow hoping for occurrence of steady positive tendencies of development of modern visual culture.

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Fatima / Photo.

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Fakhriya Mamedova / Photo project

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CHINGIZ / “Stone Trees” / Arte Sella, Italy


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An obser ver

Caroline Anderson Assistant Professor in Interactive Media Design Illinois Institute of Art Chicago http://www.carolineanderson.net/ art2850@mac.com

an outsider, Azerbaijan seems to express a lot of history at once. A week in Baku and environs leaves impressions of the dramatic: volcanoes, petroglyphs from the stone age, a caravanserai, 19th century buildings, Soviet-era housing, the taste of chai, pomegranate and lamb. The generosity and kindness of its people. Painful poverty smacked directly up against outrageous, garish displays of wealth. Police who make the place look at times like it is pre-1989. Oil oil everywhere: along the Caspian, thick tangles of oil wells compete for land while offshore rigs parade as far as the eye can see. What is the context for art making here?

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On the one hand, traditional forms of art such as tapestry are alive and well on Baku’s streets and in its workshops. For the gallery set, art seems to be a painting, or a piece of craftwork for the emerging tourist trade. So far, this description is not so different from any city in the US outside of New York or Los Angeles. Paintings in Baku tend to be art that “looks like” art – in the styles of every popular European artist from the impressionist to modernist eras – you know: Picasso, Miro, Manet, Monet, Lautrec, etc. Lusty barmaids in bustles, crazy cubist arrangements and bucolic landscapes with frosty mountains are as prevalent in Baku than they are in Chicago. There’s one important difference, though: in Chicago, “looking like” art can also mean “looking like” images from popular culture. Here, artists have been gleefully appropriating cartoon and commercial imagery for nearly fifty years. Fashion trends are picked up by painters too. In any given season the designer art galleries are showing paintings that ape the latest pattern craze and color sets from high-end design magazines. There’s a real commercial incentive for artists to make works that integrate with the brands buyers identify with…. crazy capitalism!1 If hearkening back to hundred year-old European painting doesn’t seem progressive, what else might constitute a commercial incentive for artists in Baku? If they don’t want to be a part of the gallery set, can they get grants from the National Endowment of the Arts of Azerbaijan? Where are the alternative spaces? What contribution does private industry make in the promotion of the visual arts? The political landscape in Azerbaijan may develop in the direction of a capitalist democracy and some of these things may come to parity with the situation in the west. Until then, I wouldn’t mind seeing some petroglyphs or some tapestries… 1

The author is only making an observation and is not endorsing art as a fashion statement.


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AZART.

FIRST I N T E R N AT I O N A L

P O S T C O N T E M P O R A RY

Teymur Daimi

ART EXHIBITION

artists are audacious people, dangerous for the consumptive society of today’s informational age, which praises comfort and dull prosperity. Azart has become an almost criminal word, associated first of all with gambling and extreme pastimes (cards, roulette, the breaking of public order...). In previous lives, contemporary artists would have been pirates, adventurers, highwaymen, revolutionaries and other troublemakers, disdaining the replete and dull life of bourgeois dolts. In a word, an azart is tied to the crossing of a border, the transgression of the boundaries of “common sense”, aesthetic aggression and Anton Artaud’s theater of cruelty. The word itself produces energy; it surmounts the Norm established by society for the sake of the nice and painless existence of the gregarious domesticated animals otherwise known as Homo sapiens. A contemporary artist is a bio-psychic mistake, a non-sense, a black hole amidst a post-human universe, a fly in the ointment of a depraved civilization, an individual marginalized to the periphery of social existence by the frenzied international community just to keep from complicating the lives of other members of the society by their aberrant free-thought. Some of these more radical elements are quickly domesticated or bought by conventional society through a crafty award system at international exhibitions, biennials etc. There should be no artists in this cynical and mercenary society, yet there are. This is not as a result of the false principles of the liberal-democratic community, but in spite of them. Artistry continues to exist in the world counter to the common sense espoused by the followers of Descartes and Hobbes, and to spite the impudent initiators of unipolar globalization, who have privately approved the mental genocide of the prospering sophistication of world culture. Contemporary art upsets the shameful conformism of post-industrial civilization. An artist lives and actualizes his presence in the world through a special effort of passion directed as a subtle energy to overcoming global marasmus. In our pragmatic times - where time is money- only audacious and foolhardy people can occupy themselves with such a useless and profitless business as the contemporary arts. The place that does not exist in this fallen world resides within each of us as spiritual potentiality, as a possibility of paradoxical self-manifestation at any moment of time, or as a space of absolute freedom (“The kingdom of God is within you”) - freedom from the absolute human stupidity and ignorance that have turned this planet into a gigantic trash bin, an ultra-liberal capitalist chaos, where craftiness, corruptibility, and hypocrisy are the only virtues. So, the artist, impossibly present in this world, giving form to an equally impossible art is the sole purveyor of a Vivifying Space. This restless and unneeded art is the only autonomous region where free imagination can be called to demonstrate that there is another dimension to life for contemporary humans besides their fussy existence dedicated to the satisfaction of endless needs and slavish service to conventional society.


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works of modern art, not only are the conditions by which the art is borne important but also the place where it is exhibited. The latter is of even greater importance, as interactivity, contact with the viewer and the possibility of producing a spontaneous, creative gesture while also receiving a sentient response are the most basic conditions of existence for the modern artist. Where have exhibitions of modern art not been held if already in empty, ill-omened hangars, reeking garbage dumps, unkempt dirty cellars, and psychiatric wards? Of sole importance is the escape from the asphyxiating sterility of official exhibition halls and the hypnotic bore of the “classical” museum space. The art project “Mourning for Art,” from the somehownever-aging Babi Badaloff is a glaringly bold and disarmingly naive escapade from the concentration camp of the official space for “true art.” The project, its formal simplicity aside, is comprised of several levels of perception, which traverse one another in the conception of the exhibition space. First, the work of the artist is being exhibited inside a tent, the fagade of which arouses a rather ambiguous reaction from the average Azeri. The truth is that such tents are used in the re-

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Art Project “Mourning for Art” - Babi Badaloff


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gions of Azerbaijan to celebrate weddings and in the capital of the republic, in Baku, for wakes. Is this not a paradox? Yes, but a paradox easily solved .within the context of the analogous (mytho-poetical) thought process of ancient peoples, where such contrary poles as tempestuous glee and inconsolable woe, life and death, the beginning and the end, coexisted amicably with little apparent conflict. This “ethno-genetic” way of thinking rests close to the Higher Being, who with his invisible presence dissembles all contradictions. But, in this case, the artist concentrates all of the viewer’s attention on the tent as a place where wakes are held with the logical necessity of likening the exhibition of his own paintings to a kind of mind corpse. This is the primary conceptual intrigue. Radical artists of the modern epoch have never dealt well with the theme of the death of art. There is even a popular phrase: “Art is dead but artists live.” Beginning with the intellectual anarchism of Marcel Duchamp and moving through Joseph Boyce’s bio-mystical message of social plasticity (a broadened understanding of art) and the extreme Austrian situationism, the idea of an uninterrupted refutation of socially approved forms of culture became the only adequate intellectual approach for the “honest” artist-radical. The discussion revolves around the aversion of the socio-cultural mechanism, which converts the live, spontaneous, artistic gesture of the free artist into a polished cultural product differing little from other material “products” on the global human supermarket where everything is bought and sold. The modern “civilized” world (through the optics of so-called social engineering) places a symbol of equality on works of art, condoms, toothpaste, Coca Cola, hygienic tampons and any other such thing - the only difference is in price. “Spirituality” is devoured by the sole deity of modern man, by the golden calf, expressing oneself in the cult of a quantitative economic relationship towards life. As the result of such an approach is the triumph of everything, which is most mediocre and, in perspective, ungifted. The current project, and almost all of Babi’s art, is in part nothing but a reaction on this theme, soaked in sarcasm and irony. That is, on the theme of the interrelationship between art and Society, taste and tastelessness, cheap and “high” art, the aggressive ignorance of the gluttonous crowd and wisdom of lonely professionals, who are chased to the periphery of social life by this same thankless crowd. The theme of the death of art is truly a reflection of an artistic protest against all attempts to occult creative actions/activities, which inescapably lead to the commercialization and mortification of works of art. As soon as society notices the work of art and registers the work in the dusty archive of art history or in numerous “culturological” catalogues and display the work in a respectable museum, the art dies ... it becomes a cadaver. In this way, from the point of view of many radical artists, the museum as a social institution is nothing but a “cultural” cemetery, where the remnants of “what was once art” rests. We remember the extreme gesture of Picasso calling for all museums to be burned down. Babi - and possibly not acknowledging it himself- lives and works by example of the great Chinese masters of Tao and Zen Buddhism, who were the forefathers of conceptual art. The Taoist wise man said: “The spoken truth is a lie.” Everything that belongs to fixation, calculation, registration dies. True art, as life itself, is a process taken in a clean absolute state of eternal motion, change, pulsation, becoming, transformation, head-spinning inter-

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activity of metamorphoses in horrid labyrinths of un-virtual reality (conceptualism postulates: “the idea is a work of art” is an understanding of the idea as the artistic process itself). Art says: “The process is everything, the result is nothing”. For, the result which we see in museums, at auctions, is the final point, the halt, death. The idea of art is not accomplished in the fleeting completion and professional maturity of paintings and objects, but in the live substation of artistic activity, in the intensiveness of the energetic presence of the author himself, his aura, as the totality of his passion, intellect, disease, happiness, pain, childish spontaneity and life experience. You can look at and examine Babi’s works, accept them or negate them, call them genius or ungifted (in the context of ontological unity of being, it is one and the same), you can even buy them and hang them at home or in the office ... or, you can not look at them at all, simply attend the peculiar wakes and become better acquainted with the artist. I assure you that you have nothing to lose; it is a very entertaining exemplar, a confused articulation and yet vivid mix of deep Eastern natural mountainous vitality and naive spontaneity with a dynamic Eastern European mentality and pragmatism. In short, the composition of incompatible energetic principles stipulating the traumatism of artistic and life experience “culturally” shocks anyone who becomes acquainted with it. When someone dies, we say “life goes on,” secretly meaning that the dead really have not died but rather gone to another world. During wakes (in the tent), only for a short while do we mourn the dead. Then, and only very quickly, we begin to talk about regular things, about life, problems, to tell jokes, and often you can even hear laughter ... In short, life goes on ... Teymur Daimi

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Babi Badalov / performance

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Babi Badalov / “Kabuki”


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l’origine de ce voyage : l’opportunité de présenter mes photographies à l’invitation du Centre Culturel Français de Bakou en juin 2006. Cette exposition, dont la thématique était le corps, me permettait d’exposer une partie de mon travail d’exploration de l’individu par des nus en mouvement.

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J’étais curieuse de savoir comment seraient reçues ces photos dans un pays de confession musulmane, et ce notamment parce que la représentation charnelle y est différente. Les réactions allèrent de l’amusement, à la gêne, en passant par des interrogations plus clairement formulées. Ainsi, m’a-t-on demandé mes motivations à travailler autour du nu. Certaines femmes m’interrogèrent ouvertement afin de savoir pourquoi une femme photographiait des hommes dévêtus. Je leur expliquais alors ma démarche. Pour moi, ce n’est pas tant l’homme, ou la femme, mais la personne qui se dévoile au travers de sa nudité pour se délivrer de tout masque. Cette exposition constituait l’occasion rêvée de mieux connaître l’Azerbaïdjan, de déambuler dans des lieux méconnus, d’écouter la parole des habitants, de capter l’essence du pays.

Frédérique Clément

Je m’attendais à retrouver des repères de la vie occidentale, pourtant la capitale m’étonna encore par sa proximité architecturale avec les villes d’Europe. Bakou offre les traces d’une expansion liée au pétrole, avec des noms comme la famille Rothschild qui en a fait une partie de sa fortune, ou encore des immeubles conçus par des architectes étrangers, alors que fleurissent des constructions modernes témoignant de son dynamisme actuel. Contrastant avec la périphérie et les quartiers développés, je fus sensible au charme du vieux centreville, avec ses dédales de petites rues. L’activité industrielle liée au pétrole entoure la ville. Dans les terres, à un quart d’heure du centre, un champ de puits de pétrole montre la richesse en ressources naturelles du pays, tout comme ces multiples plateformes d’extraction qui ponctuent l’horizon de la mer Noire.


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Au-delà de Bakou, j’ai donc voulu prendre le temps, en y consacrant un mois, d’aller à la découverte du reste de l’Azerbaïdjan, consciente par mes précédents périples qu’une capitale ne résume pas un pays. Je me suis alors laissée guider par mes envies et les suggestions glanées au fil de mes rencontres. Je décidai de séjourner au maximum en dehors de Bakou et d’aller dans différentes régions afin d’obtenir une vision d’ensemble plus complète. Au fil de mes allers-retours entre les provinces et ce carrefour urbain, j’ai ressenti une scission entre la Capitale, où résident la moitié des Azerbaïdjanais, et le reste du pays, plus traditionnel et rural.

dans les montagnes les plus reculées. Personnages qui sont de toutes les conversations et font la fierté de beaucoup.

Jusqu’alors discrètes, les affiches à la gloire du père de la patrie Heydar Aliyev et de son fils Ilham Aliyev, l’actuel président, deviennent incontournables, y compris

Est-ce à rapprocher avec l’histoire de l’Union Soviétique et avec l’ambiance qui régna là-bas si longtemps ? Ainsi, je fus étonnée d’être plusieurs fois prise pour une

Les rumeurs charrient souvent des histoires de corruption. Chacun y va de sa petite histoire, pour surmonter un contrôle policier, s’inscrire à la fac, obtenir un poste, un diplôme, etc. Pour ma part, même amenée au poste de police, je n’ai pas eu à les vérifier. De même, dans certaines régions, se promener avec un appareil photo à la main a pu susciter des réactions relevant d’un climat d’état policier, avec quelques vérifications d’identité ou explications exigées sur ma présence et la raison de ces prises de vue.

espionne du KGB par la population, intriguée d’avoir à faire à une jeune occidentale, ou soupçonnée de vouloir photographier des lieux « stratégiques », du moins qui le furent, tels que des ponts, d’anciennes usines ou des champs de pétrole. Des réflexes bien vivaces demeurent, comme prouver que l’on est officiellement enregistré par l’administration lorsque je veux dialoguer avec un représentant de la population chrétienne des Oudines dans le village de Nic. A côté de cet héritage soviétique, certaines visions renvoient à ce que fut le pays si longtemps. De vieilles usines de l’ère soviétique semblent s’être arrêtées d’un jour à l’autre,


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sans prévenir. A Sumgaït, ancien poumon chimique d’URSS, le complexe industriel désaffecté, surface interminable d’acier, me donna un sentiment partagé de délabrement, de désagrégation et de petitesse face à une telle ampleur. Comment un tel outil de production a-t-il pu être abandonné, alors qu’il est si proche de Bakou ? Au pied de la montagne menant à Dashkasan, même impression face à ces exploitations de minerais. Les wagonnets, entre ciel et terre, donnent l’impression d’avoir été arrêtés hier. Pourtant, la rouille en témoigne, une éternité s’est bien écoulée. Non loin, le conflit du Karabagh est palpable, comme l’indique la multiplication des contrôles de la police près de la frontière. Toutes ces sensations se sont enrichies grâce aux témoignages d’une population qui, à mon sens, fait l’âme du pays. Par un partage privilégié du quotidien, j’ai eu la possibilité de cerner des aspects plus intimes de l’Azerbaïdjan. Hors de Bakou, le paysage humain est essentiellement masculin. J’avais remarqué l’absence des femmes, que je voyais surtout sur les marchés. C’est par mes séjours en famille que j’ai pu découvrir leur vie domestique et les nombreuses tâches qui rythment leur journée, comme fabriquer le pain, s’occuper des animaux ou de la maison… En tant qu’invitée, je jouissais d’un statut particulier lié à l’hospitalité traditionnelle. J’essayais d’aider les femmes dans leur quotidien, ce qui n’était pas toujours envisageable. J’ai également pu ressentir la domination masculine à laquelle elles sont soumises dans un système patriarcal. L’autorité du père de famille fait loi, même lorsqu’il annonce que son fils devra se marier l’année suivante. Dans ce contexte, ma présence suscita des questions, mélange de fascination, d’incompréhension, d’encouragements : pourquoi une femme voyageait-elle seule, avais-je peur et comment je me débrouillais en terres inconnues ? Tout au long de mon parcours, je rencontrais une population très accueillante, pré-


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venante et généreuse, toujours prête à rendre service et à me donner de bons conseils. Dans les bazars, certains m’étonnèrent en m’offrant de la nourriture ou de petits présents, notamment quand je leur proposais de leur envoyer les photos. J’ai ressenti une curiosité bienveillante à mon égard, que concrétisaient souvent des invitations à boire le thé. Malgré l’obstacle de la langue, l’échange humain était possible et convivial. En tant que femme occidentale, j’ai été agréablement surprise de pouvoir me déplacer, principalement seule, avec un tel sentiment de sécurité. J’ai beaucoup apprécié la diversité, tant des paysages que des modes de vie selon les régions. Du désert aux glaciers, en passant par des climats plus tempérés, propices à des cultures agricoles variées, parcourir ces étendues m’a donné à percevoir la richesse du pays. Toutes ces ressources naturelles, cette diversité de climats et d’agriculture, cette beauté humaine offrent un potentiel remarquable à un pays jeune, qui ne demande qu’à se développer. Au travers de ce voyage et de mes photos, j’ai souhaité fixer le quotidien de mes contemporains, et les Azéris m’ont offert leur authenticité avec générosité et sincérité.


w w w. f r e d c l e m e n t . c o m / f c @ f r e d c l e m e n t . c o m

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Ganja Experience Dilara Vagabova PhD, art critic Baku/Azerbaijan


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FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS AZERBAIJAN HAS BEEN A COUNTRY OF A NUMBER OF SIGNIFICANT INTERNATIONAL EVENTS WHICH ATTRACT NUMEROUS OUTSTANDING WORLD FIGURES FROM THE CORRESPONDING SPHERES OF CREATIVITY. AMONG THESE ARE SUCH EVENTS AS THE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL, THE INTERNATIONAL PHOTO COMPETETION/FESTIVAL OR THE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION OF CONCEPTIONAL ART “ALLUMINIUM+” AND THE INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOPS AND SYMPOSIUMS ON LAND ART. SOME OF THEM ARE REGULAR, THE OTHERS WERE JUST AN EXPERIMENT WAITING FOR ITS SUCCESSION…


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of such “adventurous” art projects of 2006 held in Azerbaijan was the International Visual Arts Ganja Festival which took place in September 2006 in one of the ancient centres of the Azerbaijani culture – Ganja town.

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Many questions and hesitations raised before the organizers – The Baku Arts Centre (the director and leader of the project Rafael Gulmammadly and the curator Dilara Vagabova, PhD, art critic) supported by the Open Society Institute-Azerbaijan. 1

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It is not a secret that the cultural life in Azerbaijan is mainly concentrated in the capital of the country that is Baku city. It is natural but not fair. Many regional centers of Azerbaijan still exist in total cultural and information isolation. Life there flows slowly and quietly, sometimes - too slowly and quietly so it seems that the time just stopped in these provinces. Nevertheless, many of them have been very important and significant for the history and culture of the country. There are still many intellectuals, the people who are well educated and have considerable cultural and family background living in these towns. The project of the International artistic action – the Visual Arts Festival in Ganja was first of all aimed at elimination of such a disproportion in cultural situation throughout the country. Ganja turned out the first in the list. We supposed to get the local population acquainted with current trends in modern art, to involve the common people into the captivating process of contemporary creativity which is marked by extremely democratic character. Thus, a number of exhibitions and conceptual art actions - installations, assemblages, performances, photo-contest, graffiti, etc. – were planned to be carried out. At the same time one should remember as a matter of fact that Ganja is a provincial town living by the traditions of its own. So we should be careful with some of cosmopolitan


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ways of artistic expressiveness came from the “crazy” West and already accepted in the “progressive” capital. Any strata of population must have the “points of interest” of its own. Finally, a number of traditional exhibitions were prepared. 3

Looking through the town as a whole as well as the traditional see-sights for visitors the organizers stopped at following topics: three exhibitions of Ganja artists (two of them were memorial, and one of these memorials was actually a discovering of the new name, the first public show of the artist’s works); two exhibitions were closely connected to cultural traditions surviving in Ganja – these are “Gurama (patch-work) and its tradition used in painting” and “Art of naïve” which turned out a very popular occupation among the Ganja citizens. One more traditional exhibition was devoted to the ancient and skillful field of creativity which is calligraphy and its interpretation in contemporary art.

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In fact, these exhibitions were success. They finally had the results in many directions. As it was already noted a new name was discovered and established in the history of Azerbaijani art. The group exhibition of Ganja artists awoke them to analyzing their works and thinking about their individual development. “Gurama” and “Naïve Art” ex5

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Ready for “The Last Supper” /The project by Mamuka Japaridze (Georgia) “The Last Supper” / Project by Mamuka Japaridze (Georgia)

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Installation in Khan Bagy by Irina Eldarova (Azerbaijan)

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Action by Kote Jinjaradze (Georgia)

5 Interactive project involving the citizens of Ganja by Vsevolod Demidov (Kazakhstan)

6 6 project by Zitta Sultanbayeva and Ablikim Akmullayev (Kazakhstan) on the walls of Chokek Hamam

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positions made the Ganja citizens proud for their cultural background and perspective creative resources. Art of calligraphy one more reminded to everybody how exclusive and unique the Islamic art is. Undoubtedly, all this was interesting for local population and for guests as well. Within the very tight space they got an opportunity to look through many artistic levels both chronologically and typologically.

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But not these glimpses of various traditions were the point of the Festival. The guests from abroad as well as the artists from Baku were supposed to improvise at the site within all the possibilities of conceptual art. The artists from Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan have received in advance the pictures of all the spaces available in Ganja where the artistic actions could take place. Among these were such objects as the middle aged Moslem bathes (Chokek hamam) and the space around them, a large park of 300 years old (Khan-baghy), and the dried bed of Ganja – river. So, the artists had already known what kind of place they were going to. Some of them brought the prepared art works, the others were improvising immediately at the site. Most of the artists precisely caught the main idea of the event consisting of involving common people into the actions. Indeed, since the first day of the Festival we “have got� the public of our own. These were the people of different ages and social positions. During all the days of the festival they devotedly followed its proramme, visiting all the actions and events. More over, they were not only the passive spectators but the very active collaborators passionately discussing the ideas and conceptions of the works with their authors. One can undoubtedly say that in certain aspect Ganja Festival was a unique event. It gathered together a large team of skillful and gifted artists, some of them are very active participants of many international artistic actions. Coming to Ganja from different geographical and cultural points they spontaneously merged together into a united creative team. Each of them found his/her own niche thus


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making the organic ensemble up. No one disturbed another. Thus all the projects got an extremely effective realization. The last action of the Festival was the happening devoted to making with river stones a large heart thrust with arrow on the bed of Ganja-river. This was a token of love to the ancient town accepted with hospitality the crazy and talented quests. This was a sign that a new center called Ganja appeared in the map of contemporary art of Azerbaijan.

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Kote Jinjaradze shooting “The Last Supper” action from the dome of Chokek Hamam The Bathes / Video-installation by Sabina Shikhlinskaya and Ali Hasanov (Azerbaijan) in Chokek Hamam Tobacco Book (made of leaves of todacco). Vsevolod Demidov (Kazakhstan)

10 Zakir Husseynov. “The Keys of Our Life”. Mobile Installation. (Azerbaijan)

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11 “The Keys of Our Life” / Mobile Installation (Azerbaijan) 12 “Solar signs” and painting by Magomed Kajlayev (Makhachkala, Daghestan, Russia) 13 Ali Hasanov, Sabina Shikhlinskaya and Tamilla Ibrahimova (Azerbaijan) at the video-installation “The Bathes”

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ИЗВЕРЖЕНИЕ ТИШИНЫ

ИЛИ

экстралогическое эссе-анализ арт-проекта “Бумага”

Ibragin Khalil Supianov “Message to God” / 50000x25000 cm


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ПО АУТЕНТИЧНОМУ В

истории современного искусства, при определённом обобщении, можно обнаружить две основные концептуально-силовые линии развития: вектор балагурно-иронического, развлекательнопотребительского, роскошно-накопительского отношения к миру и культуре (коммерческий дискурс), и вектор минималистически-серьёзного, фундаментально-онтологического и апофатическирасточительного взгляда на жизнь и окружающую действительность (нонконформистский дискурс). Первая линия берёт своё начало от неоднозначного М. Дюшана, затем переходит к сумасбродным дадаистам, пронизывает всеядный поп-арт (Э. Уорхол…) и приходит к своему логическому концу в беспринципном синтезе массовой культуры и постмодернизма (Д. Кунс…), явившемуся символом современной эпохи. Вторая линия начинается опять же с Дюшана и Малевича (подтверждая тезис об энигматичности творчества французского мастера), идейно “уплотняется” и доходит до своей кульминации в концептуализме (Д. Кошут, Й. Бойс…) и теряется в формирующихся тенденциях “новой серьёзности” и “новой искренности”. Назовём первую силовую линию симулятивной, а вторую – онтологической. Думаю, не ошибусь, если скажу, что в социальном формате современного мира, в силу беспрецедентной культурологической редукции и коммерческого фактора, возобладал именно первый вектор. Современный мир глобализации это мир попкультуры и свободного движения транснационального капитала. Такой мир не терпит фундаментальности и размеренного онтологического дискурса, предпочитая “множить сущности” и расширять бесконечный симулятивный фон, на котором и происходит фантасмагорическая феерия “последних времён”. Информационное Общество Потребления поощряет и допускает к реализации лишь те интеллектуальные стратегии, которые обеспечивают безальтернативность конформистской и консюмеристской оптики восприятия окружающего.

Разумеется, при таком раскладе сил не остаётся места для развития онтологической линии культуры, аппелирующей к нон-современному (нерациональному) модусу мышления и пытающейся выработать альтернативную современности культурологическую модель, корни которой восходят к не-западным культурам. Надо признать, что в силу организационной, экономическихозяйственной доминации американизированной масс/поп культуры, проявления “второй линии” незаметны и носят маргинальный характер. Но, проигрывая симулятивному миру в количестве, онтологическая линия выигрывает в качестве и глубине проникновения в энигматическую структуру бытия. Таким образом, она отвечает главной потребности человека как существа, прежде всего, спиритуального – потребности в трансценденции и инстинктивную жажду бессознательного прорыва (трансгрессии) за пределы ограниченно-видимого, в немыслимое и неизвестное. А принимая во внимание истинное (катастрофическое) положение дел на нашей планете, с точки зрения экологии, а также проблему выживания человека как вида, то нетрудно обнаружить перспективность именно онтологической линии культуры, так как симулятивный культурологический вектор, наиболее характерным проявлением которого явилась идея клонирования, привёл человека к самоизоляции внутри собственного биологического вида, что равнозначно медленному самоубийству (принцип раковой клетки: отторжение части от Целого). Поэтому сейчас представлюет интерес любые художественные проекты, созвучные онтологической линии, а значит обладающие достаточным критическим ресурсом и творческим потенциалом, чтобы не ассимилироваться в масс-медийных потоках симулятивной культуры. Одним из таких проектов является проект “Бумага”, осуществлённый в рамках международного симпозиума в древнем азербайджанском городе Шеки (куратор – И. Костина).


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Inna Kostina / “Fallen Cloud” / 400x350 cm


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Стратегия данного интернационального проекта (участие в нём приняли не только азербайджанские мастера, но и приглашённые гости из стран ближнего и дальнего зарубежья) выстраивалась строго в концептуальном формате: художникам была дана свобода осуществления персональных замыслов в контекстуальном поле всевозможных коннотаций, вызванных понятием “бумага”. Поэтому и обнаружился столь пёстрый спектр жанров и видов самовыражения, от традиционной, эстетически окрашенной фотографии (классически “красивые” работы С. Алескерова), до брутальной художественной акции и ленд-арта (Э. Ибрагимов, И. Костина, И. Халил). Но, несмотря на рискованное стилистическое и тематическое многообразие, в силу ярко выраженной и внятной концептуальной стратегии, проект смотрелся достаточно целостно и напоминал многоуровневое сакральное послание зрителю из иного пространства – послание, медиаторами которого и стали художники-участники проекта. Я не берусь утверждать, что художники одинаково восприняли концептуальную подоплёку проекта. Возможно, некоторые из участников слишком буквально подошли к теме, не пытаясь проникнуть в зазеркалье “бумажной” проблематики. Но не это главное. Меня в данном случае интересует то, что можно назвать метафизической составляющей проекта и что вполне могло ускользнуть от внимания даже самых опытных мастеров в силу своей неприметности и нон-актуальности на яркокрикливом фоне нашей позитивистской эпохи. Но не случайно, что большинство художников манипулировало не просто с бумагой, а именно с чистой, белой бумагой. Выбор белой бумаги это не технический и даже не эстетический вопрос, это вопрос аксиологического порядка. Выбор белой бумаги это не технический и даже не эстетический вопрос, это вопрос аксиологического порядка. Белая бумага – это и есть “несгораемое” онтологическое зерно проекта, императивный параметр его осуществления. Главным было не то, что получилось у художников “на выходе”, в результате физической работы с бумагой. А именно белое, белизна, чистота, незамутнённость… Основной результат проекта это не созданные “бумажные” артефакты, но вскрытие интенции к сворачиванию наличного неподлинного бытия и проявление вектора, отсылающего к первоначалу, ассоциирующегося с тайной рождения мира. Надо признать, что поиски чистоты первоначала и идеи возвращения к истокам отнюдь не новы в мировой интеллектуальной практике. Но ещё никогда жажда ментальной чистоты и экзистенциональной подлинности/аутентичности не была так сильна как сейчас, в век тотальной информационной диктатуры и торжества симулякров. Прессинг лживого социума, контролирующего информационные потоки, вызывает противодействие – акт нейро-эстетической депри-

Timur Mammadov / “Modern paradise” / 3000x2500 cm

Sanan Aleskerov / “The letter” / 70x90 cm


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Inna Kostina / “Monada” / 1500x1500 cm


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вации этих потоков, вне зависимости, является ли акт сознательным или это всего лишь жест экзистенционального отчаяния. Бумага безусловно связана с информацией. И речь не только о “галактике Гуттенберга” – изобретение книгопечатания явилось лишь заключительным этапом длинной трёхтысячелетней эволюции письменно-речевой культуры. Безусловно, изобретение Гуттенберга, открыв дверь технологическому прогрессу, интенсифицировало процесс экстериоризации человека, сделав его максимально зависимым от колебаний социального пространства. В этом и проявился инфернальный вектор истории, постулирующий в процессе исторического развития факт отчуждения человека от самого себя и мира (результат – глобальный духовный кризис и экологическая катастрофа). Но где корень проблемы? Что здесь не так? И причём здесь Бумага? Абстрагируясь от конкретики можно сказать, что Бумага есть символ универсальной поверхности – метафизического ЭКРАНА, на который проецируется информация и который, в чистом виде, есть не что иное, как пространство нашего внутреннего мира, наше собственное зазеркалье, куда мы погружаемся в своих снах, персональных мифах, воображении и трансгрессиях. С этой точки зрения всевозможные исторические носители информации – камень, дерево, глиняные дощечки, кожа, папирус, пергамент… - являются материальными субститутами этого Экрана. Осмелюсь высказать предположение, что вся история человеческой культуры представляет собой совокупность информации, записанной на этом Экране. Другими словами, сумма информации предстаёт в “образе” метаисторического Архива, который, будучи вместилищем единиц чистого количества, давит на Экран и нивелирует его метафизическую ценность. Но главное (и самое трагическое) заключается в том, что наличие всё расширяющегося Архива, диагностирующее ментальное ожирение современного человечества, не позволяет услышать голос тишины, голос интуиции, одним словом, зов Провидения или невыразимую речь Иного, без которых человек словно слепой котёнок… Выскажу основную нон-актуальную мысль: назначение Экрана заключается в передаче нам откровений из иного пространства. На нём проецируются нездешние и давно “ускользнувшие” от осознания рациональным человеком огненные иероглифы духа… Экран (= Белая Бумага) – это наше внутреннее, что глубже глубин и выше высот. Это есть поле особой интенсивности и энергийной наполненности. Но Экран не предназначен для бесконечного накопления информации. Он и так самодостаточен и ориентирован на формирование и укрепление духовного тела человека посредством отображения в себе и далее передачи своему носителю – каждому конкретному человеку – ультрасенсорных проекций из ноуменального мира.

Кстати, не лишним будет вспомнить смысл дефиниции “информация”, корни которой восходят к средневековой схоластике. Иоанн Скотт Эриугена, Николай Кузанский и некоторые другие средневековые мыслители писали о “forma formanta” и “forma informanta” (“форма формирующая” и “форма информирующая”). Это чрезвычайно важный момент, проливающий свет на феномен информации в нашем мире. “Forma formanta” есть внутреннее знание (гнозис), то, что проецируется на Экран с иной, обратной стороны и тем самым связывает человека со спиритуальным измерением космоса. Это голос Оттуда, различимый только при наличии тишины и паузы. Иными словами, “forma formanta” – чистая энергия трансфизического света, духовная вертикаль (вертикальная коммуникация), луч трансцендентности, обнаруживающийся при “чистом”, незамутнённом Экране (когда Бумага Белая). В противоположность этой величине, “forma informanta” есть информация в буквальном смысле этого слова, то есть закупоренное, усечённое и задыхающееся в неволе знание (in-formation). Если “forma formanta” посредством сферхформальных световых лучей структурирует духовный организм индивида, делает его самим собой, то “forma informanta”, наоборот, уводит его от самого себя, делает безличным “другим” (протоплазмическим элементом общественного стада), превращая в придаток социума, в беспомощную игрушку слепых социокосмических сил. Так вот, всё наличие Архива, с доисторических времён до нашей эпохи, представляет собой потоки “forma informanta” – ментальные информационные блоки, наслоенные на чистую белую плоскость Экрана/Бумаги (раз мы уже допустили тождество этих понятий). А вся человеческая история, c этой точки зрения, выглядит процессом сгущения/уплотнения этих информационных блоков, кульминацией которого явилось наше постмодернистское информационное общество симулякров. То есть весь Этот мир есть не что иное, как сцепление информационных единиц, плотная электромагнитная матрица/завеса, творящая иллюзию линейного времени и скрывающая за собой световую реальность инобытия. Но, согласно всем традиционным доктринам, человек не может жить без духовного руководства свыше. Как телу необходима пища, лёгким воздух, разуму знание, дух не может без вертикальной коммуникации с ноуменальными мирами, не может без светового гнозиса, без откровения, ибо они суть кровь бытия, без которых жизнь не жизнь, а биохимическое существование в некрофилическом формате дурной бесконечности. Без теофанического восприятия “forma formanta” человек духовно мертв, ибо не воспринимает главное – голос тех, с кем он связан мета-генетической пуповиной (в теологии их называют ангелами, а в просторечии – внутренним голосом, интуицией). По этой причине единственной адекватной творческой стратегией в наше время является не катафатика созидательного пафоса,


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Collective work / “Pomegranate” / 3000x3000 cm

усугубляющая драматизм ситуации, а апофатическая стратегия радикального очищения, направленная на аннулирование Архива, на онтологическую дискредитацию “forma informanta”, для освобождения Экрана от информационной тяжести линейного Времени и груза Истории, которые в архаических обществах однозначно идентифицировались с Грехом, ибо мешали общению с богами. В арт-проекте “Бумага” апофатическая стратегия выражена в попытках прорыва сквозь толщу мировых информационных сгущений (ложных систем знания, на которых зиждется Этот мир гипертрофированной лжи и непрерывного страдания) к аутентичности первоосновы, к немеркнущей белизне Экрана/Бумаги, в тиши которой происходит главное событие – мистерия рождения божественных имён или, по-другому, уникального персонального Послания к каждому из нас лично. Жест художников, особенно тех, кто прибегнул к стихии огня – Инны Костиной, Ушанги Хумарашвили, был сродни магическому акту имплозии – предельного сжатия пространственно-временного континуума как иллюзии, порождённой “forma informanta” и высвобождения истины “forma formanta”. Огонь вкупе с белизной целомудренной поверхности Экрана/Бумаги – это уже серьёзный вызов актуальному миру скорлуп и живых трупов. Для меня особенно ценным была сама интуиция проекта: не верить тому, что представляется нашему взору, ибо даже самое прекрасное, что можем мы лицезреть, заслоняет световой поток Экрана/Бумаги. А это уже есть риск девиации и падения в инфернальный полюс бытия… Одним словом, послание из сферы Иного, медиаторами которого явились участники проекта “Бумага”, можно сформулировать следующим образом: чтобы услышать ответы на главные вопросы жизни – откуда мы? кто мы? и куда мы идём? – необходимо сбросить весь груз Этого мира, уничтожить Архив вселенской лжи и вслушаться в оглушительную тишину чистого Экрана/Бумаги, хрупкая белизна которой только и хранит предельные смыслы бытия и невозможные ответы… Теймур Даими


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ric Hobsbawm has remarked somewhere that much of the tragedy of the ethnic wars that broke out at the fall of the Soviet Union was that they were fought for a cause, national self-determination, at a time when the nation state has probably meant less politically than it has for the last two hundred years. The eightyear conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh exemplified this futility: having killed thousands, made homeless hundreds of thousands, wrecked the economies of both countries and helped propel authoritarian governments to power in each, it won for its supposed victors an internationally isolated and desperately poor state that was largely dependent on its former imperialist master. The losers, arguably, did slightly better: oil wealth revived their economy, helping to secure in power a repressive and fantastically corrupt hereditary dictatorship. In neither country, however, has this done

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much to discredit the ideology of nationalism that was one of the causes of the war: the deep feelings of grievance, injustice and mutual loathing on which it feeds remain prevalent in both - as any visitor broaching the subject of Karabakh will quickly discover. These are circumstances that face art with a stark choice; for an ideology as ugly, powerful and pervasive as this cannot be effectively ignored: it can only either be capitulated to or opposed. Capitulation – sometimes conscious, more often not – is the rule in both capitals, and if Baku has fewer exceptions to it than Yerevan this is largely a consequence of differing relations of political force. For in Azerbaijan a rapidly growing economy has enabled the regime to establish a degree of repressive control that other governments of the region could only dream of. This, combined with a relative cultural isolation and a deadening social conformism, has gone a long way towards destroying solidarity and self-con-

Nathaniel McBride writer and translator / London


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fidence among artists, leaving a community that is fragmented, alienated and worst of all scared. That this is largely a repressed fear has only made it all the more effective: its chief victims, most depressingly of all, have been the young. Among them self censorship has been so successfully internalised that it appears to be virtually unconscious, producing what can best be described as a kind of corporate video art, one that varies between the disturbingly superficial, a kind of amateur MTV, and the darkly and obscurely confused - work that seems to lose sight of its own meaning in tortuous negotiation around a host of unacknowledged taboos. Artists here tend to talk more animatedly about the monstrous injustices of the Armenians than their own work, which they treat with a curious combination of dismissiveness and defensiveness. The older generation, having grown up in the relatively liberal atmosphere of glasnost and perestroika, has proved more resistant to propaganda, and its work has remained correspondingly less inhibited. Babi Badalov (born 1959) makes collages and assemblages out of found objects that play mischievously with some of the surprisingly camp cultural products of Azerbaijan’s monolithically macho society, including popular pin-ups of young women so heavily made up they look like men in drag. Other works of his, such as Kabuki, investigate the cross-dressing potential of the hejab, proposing male adoption of the veil as a way of opening up new possibilities in clandestine transvestitism. Body covering is also evident in Chingiz’s (born 1964) 2003 performance Silver, in which the artist wandered around the ruins of a former KGB prison - the site of mass executions during the Stalinist purges - while wrapped from head to foot in tin foil, pausing occasionally only to decorate a piece of rusting ordinance with the same material. In both these works - one irreverent and playful, the other a quiet act of commemoration - a radical hiding or sealing off of the body from its environment becomes a precondition for the aesthetic act: an indication both of that environment’s hostility, and how defenceless artists feel against it. In Armenia the situation is, on the face of it at least, very different. There an active, if small, artistic scene enjoys strong international links, a developed institutional structure funded by the country’s large diaspora and even - uniquely for a Caucasian country – an active critical dialogue on contem-

porary art. Here too one encounters the recognisably leftist politics of a cultural intelligentsia: most artists are against ‘nationalism’ - the difficulty lies in working out what this means in practice. For in Armenia the fact of one’s national identity is made remarkably difficult to avoid. The irony, for example, of making art that opposes nationalism while being funded by The Armenian Centre for Contemporary and Experimental Art is not lost on artists here, but many don’t seem sufficiently aware of the pernicious, if subtle, influence these institutional circumstances can have upon their work. Too often, one feels, art is promoted for its Armenianness over its contemporaneity or experimentality – a priority that encourages complacency and especially damages protest art, infecting it with a worthiness that kills all sense of anger and urgency. It may have been considerations such as these that led David Kareyan (born 1973) to return to painting after many years of working in performance. His recent pictures incorporate elements of Pop, photorealism and abstraction to merge together biological and technological forms, seamlessly conjoining the natural (for which one might read ‘tradition’) and the artificial (for which one might read ‘modernity’). A similar fusion of nature and technology is evident in Harout Simonian’s (born 1976) video installations; his Elevator Shaft turns a moving shot of a lift shaft into something distinctly organ-like, the receding tunnel resembling the view down a surgeon’s endoscope. Other artists have been more concerned with developing a therapeutic art to deal with recent historical traumas. Mher Azatyan (born 1972) brings a insouciant, almost detached lyricism to the crumbling streets and ruined industrial landscapes that he photographs, quietly ironising the social catastrophe they represent. Narine Zolyan (born 1957) and Harut Zulumyan’s (born 1958) installation Armenian Lessons takes a more radically absurdist position, proposing nothing short of a reinvention of the written language for the post-independence period (Armenian, it should be mentioned, has its own, and ancient, alphabet). This means breaking down words into their phonetic components and reconstructing them as a set of vivid pictograms, somewhat reminiscent of the psychotic imagetexts of Aztec codexes. Here linguistic decomposition becomes a metaphor for social decay, with the newly ‘archaic’ sym-

bols emerging from it – the pictogram of the president, for example, a kind of monstrous Ubu Roi on horseback, his ‘people’ a band of naked slaves, desperately bartering off their possessions – emphasising the regression of social relations into a kind of neo-feudalism. All these works aim at rejecting or resisting the dominant ideology through art. A more radical position, however, might be to recognise how art itself is complicit in this ideology. This is the conclusion of a small group of younger artists for whom anarchism and punk have become important influences (and who read and admire the novels of Stewart Home as much as The Sex Pistols and The Clash). Tigran Khachtarian’s (born 1981) aggressively low budget remakes of classic films, including the Armenian director Sergei Parajanov’s Colour of Pomegranates, relocates some of their best known scenes to the artist’s toilet, where they are reshot in a grainy, seedy, black and white. In his Colour of Eggplant (2004), the famously lyrical image of red pomegranate juice seeping through a sheet of white linen is restaged as a close-up of the artist’s own piss leaking through the crotch of his trousers. Perhaps it is not too much of an exaggeration to see in this work’s puerile acts of desecration and active willingness to offend something genuinely new in art here, in so far it attempts an assault, albeit a tentative one, on culture itself. It is too early to say whether it is likely to become representative of others; but if an art of opposition is to develop here it seems likely that it cannot be ignored. The above text is an article I wrote a few months ago for Flash Art. Chingiz Badaev asked me if he could reproduce the section on Azerbaijan for this magazine; I, for reasons that will become apparent in what follows, have decided to reproduce it in its entirety. Re-reading it now, I am struck by two things: its gloominess of tone, particularly in this section dealing with Azerbaijan, and its high degree of political content, which might seem out of place in an article on contemporary art. Readers familiar with the Azeri art scene may well understand its gloom. Azerbaijan is by far the wealthiest of the former Soviet republics of Transcaucasia, yet its artistic community is the smallest, most fragmented and least self-confident of the three. Worse still, its most original and inventive artists belong almost wholly to the


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older generation – the generation, that is, which came of age under perestroika. Younger artists, who grew up under the Aliyev dynasty and war, have yet – to my knowledge - to produce anything of merit. This depressing state of affairs suggests that the outlook for the visual arts in Azerbaijan are getting worse, not better; my article aimed at offering, albeit tentatively, some kind of explanation for it. This, then, accounts for the emphasis on politics. For it seemed that, like much of the work I saw in the Caucasus, Azeri art could only be approached through the social and political conditions in which it was made. This wasn’t just because those conditions were unfamiliar to the largely western readership I was addressing; it was also a measure of how sensitive, indeed vulnerable, much of the work of the region’s artists seemed to be to its own social environment. This was so despite the fact that very few, if indeed any, of these works were actually overtly political in content. There were, for example, in Armenia and Azerbaijan virtually no works that directly addressed the experience of the Karabakh war; yet it seemed to me that only too often the war was present in them and expressed itself through them - quite independently and sometimes quite contrary to the artist’s intentions. This, of course, is not a state of affairs conducive to the making of art, which needs – or so I think - some kind of distance upon its subject, some kind of line of separation from it, in order to effectively succeed. In Azerbaijan one too often came across works that seemed to have been swallowed up, as it were, by the social catastrophe that is their context. This produced art that was peculiarly fragmentary, inconclusive and, sometimes, obscurely sinister. These qualities are, of course, to be found in the other countries of the Caucasus and are themselves a measure, among others, of how much all three continue to have in common - despite the fact that so many of their citizens seem unable or unwilling to recognise these similarities. Indeed, one of the peculiarities of travelling between one Caucasian country and another is the sense of psychic dislocation one feels between them. One has the sense that people are in denial about their shared geographical location and history, and feel that the only countries with which it is worth maintaining relations are generally hundreds or even thousands or miles away.

Those lying near to hand, by contrast, are at best an irritation or irrelevance, at worst a terrible misfortune. In this respect at least, the similarities between the countries of the Caucasus have not disappeared with independence; and some, it might be argued have grown even stronger. All have experienced very similar developments involving economic collapse, ethnic war, territorial fragmentation and the rise of the reactionary ideologies of nationalism and traditional religion. These are reminders that the political and economic disasters that have befallen the Transcaucasian countries since the fall of the Soviet Union are collective ones, the outcome of events and processes that in many ways transcended the limits of the individual nation state. I believe that if artists are ever to successfully represent and confront these events, they need to address them collectively. National identity and national experience can no longer be the sole terms of reference for this, not least because that identity and that experience is today too directly determined by institutions and organisations that transcend the nation-state. Confronting them means orientating oneself within a world system in which their region is merely a single coordinate in a far wider field. The question should be no longer, what does it mean to be Azeri? (if it ever was), but rather, where does the condition of ‘being Azeri’ fit within the world system itself? It is for this reason that the development of a regional, rather than a national, identity seems so important. This could be based, not only on common experiences, but on commonly felt opposition to the disasters and injustices of the post-Soviet era. It would mean recognising that, for example, the frenetic, psychotic quality of both Narine Zolyan’s Armenian Lessons and Babi Badalov’s camp kitsch collages are reactions to the same experiences of disenfranchisement and marginalisation – and, in their small way, acts of resistance to it. But it would also need to be based on a recognition of a third element that the nationalities of this region have in common: a mutual enmity. The strength of this can hardly be overemphasised. I remember being shocked when one Azeri artist told me that he ‘hated’ Armenians; but I have little doubt he was probably just expressing commonly held sentiments which most people keep to themselves. Unless the issue is addressed, meaningful cultural ex-

change is unlikely to amount to a great deal. It requires not so much the setting aside of one’s stereotypes but the working through of them, in a recognition of the fact that this is the only way they can be overcome. It also means rejecting the uniqueness of one’s national experience and national suffering, and recognising instead that the events of the last eighteen years have not involved a struggle for national liberation so much as a struggle for wealth and power among post-Soviet national elites, in which the principal losers have been not one nation or another, but the common population of all. This is why works like Sophia Tabatadze’s Stickers, shown at the Caucasus festival held at Die in France last year, may point a way ahead for the art of the region. For the work based itself on one notable thing all the nationalities of the region had in common: a mutual loathing for each other. The fact that they provoked condemnation from certain (non-artist) members of the Azeri delegation is an indication that they at least constitute a step in the right direction. Tabatadze has written that, if the present degree of mutual isolation continues, “we will remain small countries with insignificant cultural lives slavishly following the dominant trend.” I agree with this assessment. Unless greater regional cooperation emerges, contemporary art is unlikely to develop significantly in the Caucasus and the possibilities for artists will remain extremely limited. They will, in all probability, end up reproducing the same pattern of relationship that existed under the Soviet Union, whereby all countries were subject to a centre that existed elsewhere, and for whose favours and resources they competed. Such a pattern is likely to ensure that enmity of this kind continues. The antidote is to turn the Caucasus itself into a centre – a small one, perhaps, and certainly one among many others - but a centre nevertheless. This can only be initiated through dialogue and exchange. Tbilisi is only few hundred miles from Baku, but travelling there today it feels as if it might be a few thousand. This is an insane state of affairs that needs to change. It is one of the reasons I support the initiative to organise greater artistic exchange among the three countries, of which Chingiz is the representative in Azerbaijan.


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THE GREAT The world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them. Albert Einstein

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critical artist with the pretense of actualizing a strong critical statement but fated to cultural production in the framework of legitimate art institutions finds him-herself in a tricky situation. He is caught in the pincers of a “two-fold impossibility.” On the one hand, his intentions are neutralized by the unspoken consensus of global corporate art scenes; this consensus “customizes” his statements and ultimately turns him into a creative functionary in prestigious artistic forums that are really no more than appendages of political events. On the other hand, the artist must face the fact that any revolutionary intervention into social space with the goal of changing the situation of the status quo meets with a hapless outcome. If, in the first case, he opts for mass culture and participates in politically correct projects of contemporary art, he can still easily blend into the glamorous atmosphere of cultural life, becoming a media star for the glory of capital. But in the second case, the artist faces the unavoidable fact of existential defeat, inevitably robbed by a society he loathes. The history of “radical” art shows how a neo-liberal order undergoing globalization uses a well-oiled mechanism of its own devices to reproduce itself. While this mechanism allows the artist to construct a critical discourse, he actually stands no chance of ever actualizing it. The system injects itself with a critical barb, but its tissue immediately assimilates any destructive potential this insertion might have. After the system has completed this filigree work of recovery, counterpower loses the grandeur of its rage – its radical, destructive impulse – and turns into a plaything, performing the decorative role of a domesticated antithesis in a profane “systemic” game. Such unfavorable conditions lead to an even greater radicalization of art, effecting its reduction to an unambiguous political gesture. But at the same time, art threatens to turn into an application-oriented instrument of ideology, losing all of its essential immanent traits. Here, the most impassioned producers of actual/contemporary arti engage with radical leftist revolutionary rhetoric and orient themselves toward a breakthrough to the actualization of the condition of an other, better, freer world. By doing so, they express their doubts in the immanent efficacy of art as such. After all, they argue, art is not adapted socially and ineffective in its im-

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manence, and must become a mouthpiece for work in the ideological field, transforming the artist himself into a rank-and-file political activist who, in the worst case, inexorably takes on the role of a politically correct designer of globalization. As a counterbalance to this tendency, there is the intention of analyzing the autonomous dimension of art whose suggestive purity is capable of “giving birth to” more effective strategies of resisting the system. This discussion is complicated by permanent institutional activity that does not tolerate even the slightest “contemplative pause,” when, in fact, it is this pause that provides the only chance for self-reflection, an unhurried, fundamental reconsideration of strategies chosen by both the individual contemporary artist and art as a whole. In the framework of the current text, we will try to model this particular meditative pause, probing the body of art and feeling for the finest nerves of the other possibilities for self-actualization that have been eliminated by the discourse of actuality. The essence of our “message” is as follows: it has long since been time to embark upon a radical intellectual revision of both contemporary art and the mode of the artist’s presence in the world. We can only undertake this effort if we extract ourselves from the “objective” causality that society imposes, or, more plainly put, from the growing pressures of this world’s hustle and bustle. One should say that any artist who positions himself as a subject resisting a new world order is necessarily rooted in the format of actual/contemporary art. Traumatized by the virus of total sociality, he has turned “inside out” completely. Thus, the focus of his attention lies in exterior space. Such meta-strategies can be arbitrarily called exclusive, since they are oriented toward the outside. The contemporary artist is an integral part of the dynamic in which global art projects are realized. This dynamic is conditioned by the pragmatic aspect of a worldwide curatorial practice that stimulates not the active, but the re-active side of the artist’s creative nature. This, in turn, demands quick responses and adequate reactions to social mandates. In this case, the artist is hostage to his outer surroundings, becoming the passive object of a total sociality that places him into a humiliating dependency on the fluctuations of the social barometer and the system of financial investments these fluctuations articulate. His entire strategy, no matter how

radical or revolutionary, responds to the System’s popular demands and organically weaves itself into the fabric of pre-programmed social mutations, ultimately stimulating the hard and fast “circulation of capital.” In other words, whether the artist wants it or not, he will have to play by the rules that the system imposes. In the short term, this automatically brings tactical losses. In a broader perspective, it leads to the collapse of his entire worldview. Does this mean that any vector of protest through contemporary art is untenable? Or does the body of contemporary culture contain an explosive potential hitherto untouched by artists who see themselves as the subjects of resistance? A sense of the answers we might provide impels us to take a distance from the entire complex of problems that constitute the notion of contemporary art (as actual art). As strange as it sounds, the answers become increasingly optimistic as art loses its status of “actuality.” Jumping ahead, we might say that a positive resolution of this crisis lies in a rather “simple” meta-perceptive gesture: in displacing the focus of attention (the center of gravity of existential tension) from the ontologically illegitimate outside (linear/total sociality/the realm of necessity) to the inside (living space/the realm of freedom), a leap into the space of unconditional faith. But since contemporary art is a functional product of the outside, the context of our consideration here prompts an incidental disassembly of its basic paradigmatic constructions. Contemporary art is so vain and absorbed in the hustle and bustle of the everyday that it could be defined as visual journalism. Yet first of all, it will never reach the mobility or popularity of journalism proper (as in the mass media) or other mixed media fields (such as fashion and mass culture). Second, it inevitably sets itself at a growing distance from the ontological functions of art, which boil down to unhurried and fundamental existential analysis. Global art institutions channel the current flows of power in contemporary art, eliminating anyone who doesn’t conform to its accelerated interchange of intellectual fashions. However, one should note that that there was always also a non-actual tendency. It decelerated such ultra-rapid processes and uncovered the zero-regime of creativity that lies at the base of any creative act. Artists of this tendency (including Duchamp and Beuys, and in a broader his-


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torical context, Rimbaud and Artaud) are characterized by indifference to “the sphere of coercive social illusions set up by the specific bounds of various social groups” ii, finding their roots in an inner space of unconditional freedom and personal belief as a modality of the will to overcome the inauthentic form of being at hand. iii These artists preferred the quality of in-action (on the edge of utter failure) to quantitative productivity. Their works present singular “points of bifurcation” at which the development of art could have taken a different trajectory. (The fact that this never happened and that art always treacherously slid back into the “sin of objectification” does not mean that another approach is not possible in principle.) Asceticism and the minimization of creativity’s quantitative parameters are lethal to the producers of contemporary/actual culture whom the system (market) has forced into a pose of uninterrupted “mental ejaculation.” This state of affairs allows us to intuit a hypothetical model of another, non-actual artist (and non-actual art as a unique type of anthropological praxis), oriented not toward satisfying society’s growing “aesthetic” needs, but toward actualizing the potentialities of another world, another life. Of course, what is at stake here is the subjectivity of resistance, since nurturing the potentiality of another, better world in oneself is inseparable from a primal anthropological intention to radically reject this world as something ontologically inauthentic, and to absurdly believe in a fundamental alternative to what is (the primate of how things ought to be over how they are). By making this postulate, we necessarily identify the non-contemporary artist’s designation with the designation of humanity “as such,” as a being whose generic, anthropological specificity forces him to resist an “objective” outside. At the present historical moment, the idea of resistance to the outer world has been reduced to the idea of resisting one of its particular segment, namely capitalism as a socio-political reality. This reduction limits the potential of resistance and narrows down the spectrum of the human being’s possibilities for becoming aware of his or her generic designation. In the final analysis, it renders humanity’s understanding of its active subjective nature null and void. Once this has happened, people have no choice but to agree with their pathetic slavery to the functions of social totality. It will become clear slightly further down that this

question is not so much political as it is ontological. To be more precise, it involves politics (to the degree that all our lives are political), but not in the first instance. In speaking of models for another type of artist, we cannot help but pay attention to the relationship between two notions fundamental to us, namely those of the “actual” and the “non-actual.” iv Actuality is connected to instantaneous, ultra-rapid slippage across “the surface of meaning,” to a fixation and complication of the obvious. Actuality expresses what is, becoming the countenance of social existence. In the ideal, it is being as such. The actual artist cannot be a subject of resistance by his very definition since he exists in a world that has long since declared the death of the subject. As a confirmation of the logically justifiable consequence of rationalism, Nietzsche’s “death of god” obliquely postulates nothing other than that the death of the subject as a living counterpoint to the realm of necessity. v In this situation of existential defeat, any form of resistance has a decorative-operatic quality. After all, true resistance – its nature more metaphysical than social – can only be active and not re-active. In this case, resistance is understood not as a reaction to the pressures of the outer environment, but as something immanent to the subjective nature of humanity, presenting a paradoxical point that emanates a non-identity with everything that is. To put it different, the nature of resistance is essentially non-actual. In an actual situation, however, resistant subjectivity competes in an asymmetrical but monolithic sparring match with the object of resistance, and, as a productive function of the latter, cannot exist independently of it. In other words, the resistant subject has a vested interest in the unimpeachable presence of the object of resistance. This invites the conclusion that the resistant subject and the object of resistance belong to one and the same ontological modality, to the universal intellectual paradigm of contemporaneity (as the “grand narrative” of the present). This modality presents an amorphous, secular, and pluralistic “Taoist-postmodern” reality, where the centers of conflicting forces are fluid and unstructured. The fact that they permeate one another means that they tend to create the illusion of non-conflictual being. Let us be so bold as to postulate that the given modality of the actual presents little

more than a discursive modification of the pagan pantheist concept of “absolute identity” (“the unity of all manifestations of being,” “man and the world are one” etc.) This conception requires the absence or at least a maximal minimization of subjectivity as a mode of radical opposition to the whole, which is incorrect according to the conception at hand, since “everything is the whole.” In the framework of this discourse, the final goal of the human being (of humanity) appears as the sublation [Aufhebung] of the distance between the perceiving and the perceived, and their final identification with the whole, signifying the end of the history and a life of happiness and prosperity in (neo-liberal, capitalist) society. At the same time, losing the status of a subject, the human being becomes a passive object of manipulations (through history, politics, and globalization…). It goes without saying that this approach leads to the waning of affect and a heightened degree of entropy. This is convenient to the forces of tyranny; in application to social reality, it is a brilliant means of canceling out the Kshatriya energy of the oppressed. It is for this reason that the rebirth of consciously radical subjectivity in the contemporary human being seems so very important in this context. vi This would entail the rebirth of the multi-dimensional subject as such, with its commitment to the only legitimate concrete truth, uncovered through an unconditional belief in the depth of personal existence and the opposition sum of “normative” truths in total sociality. On the strength of a non-dialectical contradiction between the ideas of the subject and actual modalities, the process of reanimating subjectivity is connected to overcoming this modality. But on this path, we need to redefine our “image of the enemy.” What is the object of resistance for the contemporary artist/intellectual? We think that we will make no mistake in saying that it is neo-liberal capitalism undergoing globalization as a production of a modernity defined more broadly, whose basic doctrines fit into the intellectual format of rationalism (Descartes, Bacon, Locke). Though (many) contemporary artist/intellectuals take up radical leftist positions and strive to attain and express subjectivities of resistance, they too are heir to the same rationalism. Using the prism of neo-Marxist rhetoric, they mark capitalism as a negative social formation, a historical deviation that needs to be corrected with the help of socio-political strategies, resulting in the


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idea of inevitable revolution.vii According to its logic, violent changes to socio-economic realities in the process of revolutionary changes automatically lead to another, more democratic world. But if one considers that these two opposing forces actually belong to the same ontological modality, isn’t social revolution just more of the same in a different guise? And isn’t capitalism/empire (or a society undergoing homogenization, as another way of putting it) no more than one form of a far greater substantial meta-structure that we might arbitrarily call the repressive whole? Isn’t the idea of revolution as a surgical intervention into the body of history yet another insidious trap set by this repressive whole, through which the latter changes the stage set of its socio-political landscape, while leaving everything as it is, again and again? These questions spark the following line of thinking. If we look at history, and the rise and fall of empires and religions, we can see how the aforementioned repressive whole attempts to totalize or “globalize” itself, to become absolutely homogeneous, erasing and destroying everything in its path (and primarily, the human being, who subjectivity already challenges the idea of absolute homogeneity through its bare presence alone.) Since today’s society of information rose on the yeast of modernity, it turns out to be the perfect form for this “procedure.” But the ontological modality upon which modernity’s entire intellectual scaffolding rests has withstood the test of history. It is the most adequate “operating system” for the format of alienated humanity. In a society where violence is an instrumental attribute of the repressive whole and dissolves into declared values of freedom and democracy, the horror of existential slavery is not as obvious as in earlier epochs that were not as “politically correct.” The average individual has been “turned inside out;” finding himself on the periphery of his own consciousness, hypnotized by a propaganda of “universal human values” that caters to naïve ears, he volunteers himself as an object for tyranny and oppression. The society of the spectacle uses a system of suggestive, jesuitical tricks and conformist incentives to extinguish any spark of resistance. In this sense, all social revolutions to date did no more than to push society into this final phase of globalization, reaching a level of alienation so high that it calls into question the continued existence of organic life on earth.

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A characteristic symptom of the present situation can be found in the ultra-rapid subsuming of the inside by the outside in a “socialization of private life.” Plainly put, there is an undisguised aggression through society and its media against each singularity that claims the right to sovereign thought. The average gaze sees pluralism and multiculturalism as factors that have decentralized planetary power and undermined totality. But in fact, all they have been able to achieve is the transition to a non-linear system of global control. Where is the guarantee that the “new” revolution that the forces of resistance yearn for will not be yet another contribution to this process, strengthening the ontological position of the repressive whole? Can it really be that human history is doomed to the endless re-actualization of utopian projects with foreseeable results? One can answer this final question with a clear yes, though under one condition: if it continues to manifest its activity exclusively in the framework of the current ontological modalities, and if the energy of its attentions continues to disperse itself in the exterior. What, then, is the repressive whole? The anatomy of this meta-structure is subtle and ambivalent: on the one hand, it is anthropomorphic, but on the other hand, it is ontological. In looking at this first “quality,” one could argue that the repressive whole is an externalizing, comprehensive projection of immanent anthropogenic qualities, thus becoming the objectified essence of the “human, all too human.” The pagan cult of anthropocentricity, immune to criticism, and the resulting eternal fashionability of humanism confirm this perspective. According to its current modalities, the human being is self-sufficient, equal to himself, or, to be more precise, locked into his human shell. One could say that the repressive whole is an evolutionary project of the human factor’s externalization. It installs a “human absolute” as a “feedback mechanism,” implanting a program of non-stop self-fulfillment in the intellectual matrix of homo sapiens. This program’s aim is a bad, quantitative infinity (the idea of progress). The line of bad infinity is actually composed of points that represent all social revolutions and innovations of the past, present, and future. This is why all metasocial historical action that pursues the outwardly noble goal of building a just society and improving the self-sufficiency of human nature – whose ideal project excludes all problematical discourses as

stray interference to the harmonic and stable good – cannot help but reinforce the repressive whole. Though the latter declares positive values – freedom, love, prosperity, justice – it produces nothing but energetic shrinkage, entropy, regression, degradation, lies and violence, since it presents a self-contained system (“after the image and likeness”…), sealed off from any nonanthropogenic Other. viii The second, ontological component of the repressive whole prompts us to identify it with being itself, with the sum-total of all that exists. This works according to the following logic. Since man is intrinsically social, all his interactions with the surrounding natural world are mediated by social relations. In this case, so-called objective reality and all it physical laws and causalities present nothing other than an anthropogenic product of social consensus. To put it differently, everything that enters humanity’s field of perception immediately passes through social filters. In this way, the “boundaries” of reality, extended into spatiotemporal infinity, paradoxically coincide with the “boundaries” of the repressive whole. This is why man as a “social being” is thrown into a flexible, simulative network of social conventions from the moment of his birth. The repressive whole is equated to being. It follows that that the artist-intellectual’s object of resistance is not so much triumphant capitalism as the repressive whole as a matrix of all possible social innovations and as “everything that is.” This totality takes on the quality of a natural law (determinism) and an all-encompassing fatality (time), and opposes man as a terrifying negativity of absolute evil. In this sense, “biopolitical” perversions – an organic part of the capitalism that permeates every atom of contemporary life – are legitimated by the instance of actual being. Obviously, this is a situation of impenetrable darkness, metaphysical depression, existentially unbearable and irreversible in the framework of linear causality. And really, can one resist everything by unlocking the resource of subjectivity? And wherein does this resource lie? Isn’t this way of posing the problem absurd in and of itself? IT IS ABSURD! But it is precisely this absurdity that contains an exit: its unbearable urgency pushes us into the space of Belief…We might remember Tertullian: “I believe because it is absurd.” I believe despite… Belief “does not work” with actual being,

with what is, since being is obvious. ix As an oblique disavowal of the authenticity of the obvious, belief “appeals” to the impossible, i.e. it posits that its object is not in actuality, but “resonates” with the non-actual, or, to speak in the categories of political culture, with utopia. We are speaking of belief in the final inevitability of a fundamental alternative to that which is. This belief rests upon a fact unobvious to the rational gaze, namely the discrepancy between man (the inner “self”) and the (outer) world, a discrepancy that provides the conditions for the explosive energies of apophasis: impulses of transgression, fierce breakthroughs to the “anthropological limit,” projecting the will to the non-existent and the fundamental intention of overcoming the mode of being at hand as something inauthentic. In terms of methodology, this means that contemporary intellectual practice must rethink and include a concept eliminated by rationalism, the concept of “non-identity,” postulating the absolute non-identity of man and the world. The logic of this concept is as follows. Objectively, man has always considered the exterior (i.e. the repressive whole) as the primary and at the same time final ontological instance whose essences lies in absolute homogeneity and infinity. It is precisely this “last” instance that has been designated by so many various philosophical-historical contexts as the “absolute,” “unity,” “universe,” “origin”, etc. What is so intriguing is that the very presence of the human being as a perceptive point that consciously perceives this homogeneous instance, breaks its homogeneity: absolute homogeneity cannot allow the existence of something qualitatively different. In other words, homogeneity/infinity excludes the testimony of consciousness as a factor that sullies the “purity” of homogeneity and limiting infinity. The subject of perception cannot be subsumed under the idea of absolute homogeneity, since the only thing capable of perceiving consciously (reflecting) is that which is different from the perceived object in principle. (Otherwise, one cannot really speak of perception.) In this sense, perception could be characterized as a dramatic meeting of “identity” and “non-identity.” While its presence postulates the fundamental ontological otherness of the human being to everything that exists (subjectivity’s radical center as the point that breaks an “original” homogeneity), it also limits the expansion of the repressive whole, providing an


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oblique emphasis of its illegitimacy, meaning that it is doomed in a historical perspective. The point of absolute non-identity is the “place” where radical subjectivity resides. It appears as a counterpoint to the repressive whole. The human being (artist) can be defined as an agent of the absolute other who has been thrown into a hostile reality, a point of chaos in the realm of false order and deceptive stability, maintained convulsively. Taking what we have just said into account, we might say that the intuition of belief moves the contemporary artist/intellectual to undertake a crucial metholodical act, the act of making an existential difference between the inside and the outside. Or, to put it differently, the act of de-identification with the repressive whole, which severs the umbilical chord with total sociality, also entails overcoming the current/actual ontological modalities and reviving truly radical subjectivity. We should admit that this act is far from painless. It assumes a thoroughgoing revision of contemporaneity’s intellectual paradigms, which, notwithstanding their subtle modification, have never gone beyond making judgment calls in the format of Enlightenment rationalism. The actualization of these point of non-identity will not be possible without the beginning (and further intellectual development) of a strategy to eliminate this rationalism with nonactual/non-contemporary discourses, such as that of eschatology, since any idea on the “historical” finity of the repressive whole only makes sense in an eschatological perspective. To put it differently, there is a growing need to break into taboo zones that Enlightenment rationalism has labeled as archaic and primitive. On this path, the most difficult thing will probably lie in abandoning idea of the human being’s self-sufficiency, and admiting his instrumentality and dramatic ambivalence. In a corporal sense, the human being is one with the repressive whole. However, he uses an inner point of nonidentity to communicate with the non-anthropogenic other, which expresses itself in non-linear processes that are catastrophic (to the repressive whole), but providential as well, breaking the shell of any absolutized human factor. In this way, the artist/intellectual’s actualization of the point of non-identity through an unobvious implosive meta-strategy (that emphasize the primacy of the inside over the outside) will entail a “solidaritization” with the non-linear energy of the other.

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How can one apply this complex of existential procedures to the field of social practice? This question is exceptionally difficult and goes beyond the bounds of the present text. Our aim here has only been to sketch out the contours of another, non-actual/noncontemporary creative strategy that might find its subject in the non-actual/noncontemporary artist/intellectual, for whom resistance is not a method for ideological struggle against an obvious deviation, but the essential seed of humanity’s meta-historical predestination itself, thrown into this unbearable world. The only thing one could say in the practical sphere is that the fundamental procedures sketched out above cannot be undertaken in the rushed fashion that is so characteristic of current society. Any fundamental gesture dissipates as soon as it is “captured” by society. This means that the act of existential separation between the Interior and the Exterior needs to be transported into a social setting: having becoming aware of the ontological illegitimacy of the repressive whole and that it is a castaway in current society, the artist/intellectual must differentiate itself spiritually from the latter, using all the strength of his will to create a “contemplative pause” for himself. That is, while continuing to manifest outer reflexive activity in the field of the hostile spirit of mass culture, the artist/intellectual inner being needs to undertake a cultural differentiation by refusing to subject the products of the fragile intellectual process to the greedy medial ray of total sociality, since everything that falls into its scope is infected and debased. In this case, truly creative, interdisciplinary work will take place in the measured peace and quite of a sovereign, alternate community of intellectuals, governed by criteria, rules, and principles that are completely different. At the same time, the creation and constant reinforcement of an autonmous intellectual environment in a hostile society (a Noah’s arc of sorts) under stiff pressure of the Exterior is one of the artist/intellectual’s most important tasks, requiring a collossal effort of the will, intellectual courage, paradoxical ethical gesture, and even sacrifice. Yet all of this requires faith. We are speaking of spiritual survival, and nothing less. Teymur Daimi

I

Trans. note: The Russian aktual’noe means both current (i.e. contemporary) and actual (i.e. realized). Throughout the article, the author plays on this ambivalence by using the term aktual’noe iskusstvo to mean both. The term itself, widespread in the time of perestroika and beyond, has no direct English equivalent, so I have opted to translate it as contemporary/actual art.

II

M. Mamardashvili, E. Solov’ev, V. Shvyrev, Klassika i sovremennost: dve epokhi v razvitii burzhuaznoi filosofii // Filosofiya v sovremennom mire. [Classical Culture and Modernity: Two Epochs in the Development of Bourgeois Philosophy // Philosophy in the Modern World] (Moscow: Nauka 1972), p. 53

III

In a historical view, one could find the first collective subjects of the tendency discussed here in the first communities of almost all of the great world religions. Until their ideas were universalized and established as institutional religions (as the result of an inversive re-adaptation of a spiritual message to society), their activities were not aimed at reactive intervention into social structures, but at the accretion of a paradoxical and counter-pragmatic belief in an absolute Other. It is precisely this “zero”-strategy, which would appear to be politically naïve, led to a passionate energetic explosion within social space, followed by “civilizational-cultural” expansion, a phenomenon associated with the theory of the universe’s origin in nothingness…

IV

This relation cannot be classed as binary: the opposite of “actuality” is “potentiality.” The “non-actual,” however, appears in a different, non-dualistic modality, a transcendent binary connection of “actual potential.”

V

This also seems to supply at least one reason for the forced rejection of the notion of “the human essence” in European thinking. After all, this notion is inextricably connected to the status of the human being as a substitute for God, as the latter’s representative on earth. This very idea was already placed in quotation marks by rationalism as a scientifically inaccurate discourse.

VI

In essence, the intellectual practices of many thinkers today pursues precisely this goal. In our opinion, however, the anthropogenic optics of their thinking and the resulting immunity against trascendent (metaphysical/theological) discourses, this goal becomes a receding horizon.

VII

To be fair, we should say that not only the left but also the right is delirious with the idea of a final Revolution (i.e. a conservative revolution).

VIII

In this connection, it makes sense to note that the global crisis of the natural environment is conditioned by a conscious estrangement of humanity from its non-human other, resulting from the repressive whole. According to the laws of “advanced” physics, any closed system is doomed to entropy.

IX

Here, it makes sense to remember Jacques Derrida: “Everything obvious is false.”

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Teymur Daimi / “Geo-Creation” / video, DVD

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Teymur Daimi / “Under cover” / video, DVD

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Teymur Daimi / “Golden embryo” / performance

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Chingiz /"Silk Way" / Mark Block University / Strasbourg, France / 2002 / flowers, fruits, vegetables, branches, leaves, color cardboard Elshan Ibragimov / “Civilization” / performance


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ARTICLE FOR CATALOGUE OF 52 VENICE BIENNALE

АЗЕРБАЙДЖАН ВПЕРВЫЕ УЧАСТВОВАЛ НА ВЕНЕЦИАНСКОМ БИЕНАЛЕ

THE Azerbaijani artists presented here belong to several gener- ПО инициативе Министерства Культуры и Туризма группа ations of contemporary art. Their work not only involves a spectrum of mediums and innovative visual approaches, but reflects trends that dominate the contemporary art world in Azerbaijan. One such trend is the constant reflection on the past - an attempt to address ancient traditions and rituals; this approach is typical of artists, whose vision was formed during the Soviet period. Represented by Chingiz (fruit carpets) and the artists of the “Labyrinth” group (performance with fire), this approach introduces traditional Azerbaijani ethnic themes of carpet weaving and fire worship to such contemporary mediums as land-art and environmental sculpture. These artists balance between giving a direct social message about the state of the environment in Azerbaijan and using a very contemplative and esoteric visual language, a kind of self-enclosed ritual. The artists of the younger generation who began working at the beginning of the new millennium demonstrate a defiant detachment from their past and their national heritage. They choose a more global artistic language, a vision developed in the post-Soviet period, with Azerbaijan an independent nation - its society looking towards global integration. The epoch of globalization forces artists to adapt to the new transnational visual language, as the use of modern technology pushes artists far from any manifestation of their ‘exotic’ national context. Consequently, performance art by Ali Hasanov, video-art by Rauf Khalilov, Tamila Ibragimova, Tora Agabekova, photography by Rena Effendi and Orhan Aslanov and multi-media projects by Elshan Ibragimov, Fayig Akhmed, Orhan Husseinov, and Rashad Alekperov constitute a universal visual language that reflects the artists’ attitude towards their everchanging reality. The global art audience will be able to understand these artists’ work without specific cultural reference to Azerbaijan. The process of globalization continues to erase borders and cultural difference while commenting on social problems that are common to all: terrorism and global security, the power of the mass media, alienation, a lack of cultural dialogue, and information overload. These are the issues Azerbaijani contemporary artists are concerned with and communicate in a language that is both unique and universal.

Chingiz / Living in the beauty / 52 Venice Biennale 2007/ Installation/ fruits, vegetables, aluminum folio/ 600 x 800 cm

азербайджанских художников впервые в 2007 году участвовали на 52-ом Венецианском Биенале. Более 100 художников со всего мира съехались в Венецию, чтобы показать своё мастерство в сфере современного искусства. По традиции, выставка сначала открылась только для профессиональных арт кураторов, арт критиков и мировых СМИ, а затем её посмотрела общественность. В этом году директором Венецианского Биенале был Дэвид Кроф, а её куратором был всемирно известный американский критик, художник и куратор Роберт Сторр, который и является автором названия нынешнему Биеннале – «Think with the Senses – Feel with the Mind». Выставка Азербайджанских художников называется «Omnia mea». Лейла Ахундзаде была комиссаром и Сабина Шихлинская была куратором павильона Республики Азербайджан в Венеции. Витторио Урбани, арт куратор и владелец одной из венецианской галереи “Nuova Icona”, являлся вторым куратором выставки и представлял азербайджанских художников в Венеции. Кстати, азербайджанская группа художников была одна из самых многочисленных среди других национальных групп. На выставке в Венеции были выставлены произведения художников Чингиза, Рашада Алекперова, Орхана Гусейнова, Тамиллы Ибрагимовой, Ельшана Ибрагимова, Али Гасанова, Рауфа Халилова, Торы Агабековой, Фаика Ахмеда, Рены Ефенди и творческой группы Лабиринт. Более подробно об этом мероприятии можно ознакомиться посетив www.labiennale.org.


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(...) ... с появлением модернизма и в

“one point of view2”

Rashad Alekberov artist, photographer lives and works in Baku/Azerbaijan

rashad alekberov the residence artist from Azerbaijan in die /drome/ /france/ /2007/

эпоху жесточайших социальных катаклизмов, художник, как носитель нонконформистской энергетики, стал творцом новой реальности и культовой фигурой современной жизни. Затем, в эпоху постмодернизма, постисторизма и глобализации, когда возобладали конформистские тенденции и стремление к тотальной благоустроенности (к диктатуре Общества Потребления, или, по Делёзу, обществу Контроля), художник потерял свои лидирующие позиции. Почти все нонконформистские дискурсы были адаптированы и ассимилированы Системой, а все видовые и художественные наработки авангардизма инкорпорированы в плюралистическое медиальное пространство (например, инсталляция перешла в дизайн, перформанс в шоу, видеоарт в телевизионные эксперименты и т. д.). Культовыми фигурами современности стали поп-звёзды, политики и всякого рода шоумены. Современное же искусство было отодвинуто на периферию социума и культурно репрессировано. И поэтому можно предположить, что игры с отождествлением художественного я со знаковыми фигурамилидерами медиального космоса, как в случае с Р. Алекперовым, есть попытка, хотя бы в символическом измерении, вернуть себе утраченный культовый статус и, таким образом, “приобщиться” к соблазнительной сфере ментальной власти. (Теймур Даими)


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le, bu i, am , fo un nté que f d, lo ha on .. vo – c E Edm le. ffit … FR t>, ssib su pas d F la r s o U on O oue it p , ce ie m d ll, G tta re rem t E s wi ath s UN <es c’é uilib e p i l i p l e l R bu ed ry HI tiva qu l’éq vec m e e C v é a r n s r a un u - e AN u fe ont rde ce , f ll yo ce > FR s d a m , ga en : t a lan S es lor us nce omm ! YS -ou le… ba y o a B c i t n nf in ns A es sib our ец N < os p y co em allo од l A х p a о e с R tiv is ch rs я ат . ke … it VE s тс ан о.. alo е O e fe hat , to tep к жн и на t> EP th s t nce st s : ues змо ным ачи ST ring d u fide e fir н Ю -o о н du owe con th ТЬ est то в ере уть h С п h t э < , в i s ith w o! у й о ПА я О вал , чт ыть жды fa rts ’s g Р t a м б и а П st , le Д ест л на ть, е, к А so и и ф а Н я з ер ес АГ ем ка , в ов Ш вр н по еть вн а во мо хот ь р а... . . д т Э до ня аг ед! На хра го ш пер со рво о, в пе чт Ну

ñ û Ûë ay -³ tod íÿ t ar rt- îä ui a åã d'h -ñ ur t ar ujo -a t ar


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екоторые юбилейные даты, которыми был ознаменован отрезок 2005- 2008 гг., дают повод нам, основателям Гюмрийской биеннале и Гюмрийского центра современного искусства, оценить и проанализировать проделанное и наметить перспективы на будущее. Среди этих дат отметим 20летие Перестройки в 2005 году и 15-летие независимости Армянской Республики в 2006-ом, без которых реализация наших инициатив была бы невозможна. Еще в самом начале перестройки, в 1986 г., в Гюмри (тогда ещё Ленинакане) открылась первая международная выставка юмористического рисунка. В ней приняли участие многие знаменитые художники с мировым статусом в этом жанре: М. Златковский, Г. Басыров и другие. После Гюмри выставка отправилась в ереванский Музей современного искусства. Впервые в художественной практике Гюмри был издан каталог выставки, да к тому же без цензуры. В 1996 г. в Ереване, в ЦДХ, с успехом прошла крупная выставка девяти гюмрийских художников: Вагана Топчяна, Амбарцума Гукасяна, Валери Хачатряна, Левона Гукасяна, Геворга Саргсяна, Гарика Манукяна, Ерванда Тиратуряна, Алберта Варданяна и Вазо. Это была первая после землетрясения акция такого масштаба. Именно вокруг этой группы художников в Гюмри и развернулся весь творческий и педагогический процесс. Инициатором выставки стал Арарат Саргсян, замечательный художник родом из Гюмри. В том же году состоялась презентация проекта ВАЗО (Вазгена Пахлавуни-Тадевосяна) «MetaPolis–58», состоявшего из трёх выставок. Первая, основная, состоялась в гюмрийском Музее архитектуры и быта и в Доме-музее скульптора Д.С. Меркурова. Две другие прошли в Ереване: в ЦДХ на вышеупомянутой выставке 9-и гюмрийских художников и в Армянском центре современного экспериментального искусства. Там и состоялась встреча Вазо с Азатом (Азат Саргсян) и с Севом (Генри Хачатрян). Эта встреча во многом определила их дальнейшее многолетнее творческое сотрудничество. Азат и Сев живо откликнулись на инициативу Вазо организовать артивент в Гюмри. «Expedition 101» был реализован ими в 1997 г. с помощью других художников авангардистов. Эти два артпроекта, персональный «MetaPolis-58» и коллективный «Expedition 101», и стали предтечами Гюмрийской биеннале. В 1997 г. в бывшем здании Горкома партии, состоялось торжественное открытие Гюмрийского института искусств, с тремя факультетами: художественным, музыкальным и театральным. «Академия», как окрестили институт в народе, стала играть заметную роль в культурном возрождении города и в дальнейшем активно поддерживала биеннале и ГЦСИ. Гюмрийский центр современного искусства (ГЦСИ) начал свою деятельность как общественная организация в том же 1997 году, став главным организатором Гюмрийской биеннале.

на пороге десятилетия

Гюмрийский Международный Биеннале Современного искусства

ф о т о

А й к

А д а м я н

Н


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Принципиально важен и тот факт, что инициатива проведения арт-мероприятия такого масштаба как Международный двухгодичный фестиваль современного искусства исходила именно из Гюмри. Ещё несколько лет назад, в советское время, для проведения более или менее значительного культурного мероприятия нужна была санкция центра в столице. Всякий контакт с внешним миром необходимо было согласовывать с соответствующими инстанциями. Гюмри проявил беспрецедентную «культурную дерзость», выйдя на непосредственный контакт с заграницей, да ещё и с такими амбициями. Идея была в том, чтобы провести международный арт-форум в полуразрушенном и не имеющем значительных ресурсов городе, в блокадной среде. Мало кто верил в успех этой неслыханной затеи. Но проект не провалился. Во-первых, правильно были выбраны место и время, оправдал себя и расчёт на то, что в таких экстремальных зонах, как разрушенный после землетрясения Гюмри, актуальное искусство может проявить присущие ему динамизм и эластичность. Открывалась возможность по-своему осмыслить эту экстраординарную ситуацию, воспользоваться возможностью проведения интересных акций в руинах и «недостройках», получать неожиданные и креативные результаты, которые в свою очередь дали бы старт другим начинаниям. Показателен ещё и тот факт, что идея биеннале это не продукт спонтанного порыва и жеста, рассчитанного на сиюминутный эффект. Это результат и часть подробно разработанного проекта долгосрочной культурной политики для развития современного мышления и культуры самого Гюмри, который в зримом будущем может превратить его в один из важных центров современного искусства в нашем регионе. Безусловно, помимо идеи и проектов большую роль в успешном старте сыграло и старание организаторов, а также всесторонняя поддержка друзей и единомышленников из Армении и диаспоры. В самом Гюмри определённую подготовительную атмосферу создала также посвященная современному искусству авторская телепрограмма Вазгена Пахлавуни-Тадевосяна «Я и Ты», которая, в течение двух лет, предшествовавших биеннале, регулярно транслировалась по местному телеканалу «Ширак». Остановимся подробнее на истоках биеннале и на каждом биеннале в отдельности. Так как наша статья имеет репрезентативный формат, то более детальный анализ биеннале и 2

арт-ситуации в Гюмри и Армении мы оставим на другой раз и ограничимся описанием главных событий биеннале и вокруг нее за последние 10 лет. «MetaPolis 58», презентация которого состоялась в 1996 г. можно считать первым мультидисциплинарным представлением авангардного искусства в Гюмри. Проект осуществлялся как арт-исследование в течение 1995-1996гг., в пространстве между руинами старого города Ленинакан-Гюмри и нового микрорайона со строительным номером 58. Проект, по замыслу автора, представлял собой метафизический ирреальный «город-полис», аллегорию метаморфоз, произошедших после природных и политических катастроф, землетрясений и развала Советской империи. Вся документация, фото, видео, тексты и часть объектов, созданные с октября 1995-го по август 1996-го, впоследствии выставлялись в Гюмри и Ереване. «Expedition 101» была продолжением «MetaPolis 58» но уже в другом формате, как коллективная акция и арт-экспедиция в альтернативное пространство. В течение нескольких дней 13 артистов из Гюмри и Еревана, приступили к «полевым работам» в разных уголках города. Проводились разные акции, перформансы, прямо на улицах и руинах создавалось множество артефактов. Соучастниками всего этого часто становились прохожие и зрители. Вся многодневная акция освещалась местными и республиканскими СМИ. В эти дни город превратился в своеобразную арт-лабораторию для актуального творчества. По ходу очертились контуры будущей биеннале. Эту акцию-экспедицию можно по праву назвать прото-биеннале. Воодушевлённые успехом акции и поддержкой друзей, Вазо, Азат и Сев приступили к организации биеннале. В этот период немаловажной оказалась поддержка тогдашних городских властей, в лице мэра Гюмри М. Вартаняна и заведующим отделом культуры города К. Авдалян. Организационные работы длились больше года. Биеннале представлялась как стержень многоцелевого, долгосрочного культурного проекта. Она поставила себе целью способствовать оздоровлению крайне тяжёлой социально-психологической ситуации в городе, помочь наладить контакты с внешним миром, поощрять новые альтернативные начинания в искусстве, стимулировать решение таких стратегических задач как культурная децентрализация столицы, вновь поднять значимость Гюмри, как одного из культурных центров Армении и региона. Через 10 лет после разрушительного землетрясения 1988 г., унесшего около 30.000 жизней и полностью парализовавшего процветающий город, открылась первая Гюмрийская международная биеннале современного искусства. В качестве темы Биеннале кураторы предложили девиз «Исследование, время и пространство». По замыслу организаторов под этим подразумевалось исследование экстремального и деформированного пространства города после катастрофы средствами актуального искусства и одновременно исследование себя в этой необычной и непростой среде. В первой Гюмрийской биеннале приняли участие 70 художников из шести стран. Более подробные данные о биеннале смотрите на сайте www.gyumribiennial.org Итак, обрела форму и начала реализовываться идея, корни которой уходили в перестроечный период, начало 80-ых годов прошлого века, и которая естественно, после землетрясения, обрела новое значение и смысл. Цель реализации биеннале заключалась в простой формуле: «Быть вторым городом, не


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значит быть второстепенным». Ещё нужно было доказать, что у города есть ресурсы, чтобы стать важным субъектом на культурной карте республики. Невзирая на скептицизм многих, Биеннале состоялась. Естественно, проведение арт-мероприятия такого масштаба в полуразрушенном городе и крайне обострённой социальной среде породило множество порой абсурдных проблем. Об этих проблемах можно написать отдельную статью, которая наверняка получится трагикомедийной. Ещё не завершилась первая биеннале, а уже начались работы над организацией следующей. Всем было ясно, что если не будет следующего фестиваля, то биеннале, как таковую нельзя считать состоявшейся – и так каждый раз. Вторая биеннале 2000 года совпала с переходом в новое тысячелетие. Всё веяло миллениумом, и пройти мимо такого события в принципе было не корректно. «Переход, нулевая точка» - такова была тема, избранная для второй биеннале. Здесь уместно отметить, что организаторы биеннале всегда старались задавать темы и концепции, которые казались им актуальными и созвучными с локальными и общечеловеческими проблемами. 2-ая Гюмрийская биеннале проходила в очень активной и насыщенной атмосфере. В течение 2-х месяцев, в разных местах города, друг за другом открылось более 20-и выставок, организовывались концерты и конференции. За этим фасадом скрывался изнурительный труд организаторов. Им приходилось по ходу решать множество неожиданных проблем и одновременно ставить ранее незнакомые им творческие задачи. Сходный процесс наблюдался во всём постсоветском пространстве. В радикально изменившейся ситуации художники взяли на себя нелегкую задачу внедрить в новый художественный процесс элементы, которые ранее были запрещены или же не поощрялись. На плечи этих смельчаков легла вся тяжесть неосведомленности и пустого пространства вокруг нового искусства. Одновременно нужно

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first biennale / 1998

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fourth biennale / 2004


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было решать финансовые, административные, кураторские и типографские проблемы, которым их раньше нигде не учили. И ещё предстояла задача ознакомиться с процессами актуального искусства в мире, в котором уже давно сложились свои законы и правила, и приобщиться к этим процессам. Шёл также интересный, но трудный процесс легитимизации нового искусства в общественном сознании и параллельного внедрения его в текущий международный дискурс. В промежутке между второй и третьей биеннале выпускался ежегодный журнал ГЦСИ «арт – сегодня» на армянском языке с приложениями на английском, русском и французском языках. Проблемы с изданием журнала в основном сводились к финансам и отсутствию местной профессиональной критики. Впрочем, современная арт-критика, искусствознание и журналистика это уже отдельная тема для разговора. Гюмрийский центр СИ последние годы концентрирует своё внимание в основном на проведении биеннале, но этим его деятельность далеко не ограничивается. За десятилетний период было организовано и реализовано множество проектов выставок, учебных программ и встреч как в Гюмри, так и в Ереване, в ближнем и дальнем зарубежье. ГЦСИ также способствовал участию ряда армянских художников в разных международных форумах и выставках в разных странах, от России и Грузии до Франции, Ирландии, Англии, Греции, Ирана и т.д. В период 2000-2003 гг. ГЦСИ плодотворно сотрудничал с фондом «Человеческое развитие», председателем которого является доктор Армен Дарбинян, родом из Гюмри. Третья биеннале 2002 года вырвала авангардное искусство из свойственной ей урбанистической среды, ориентируя на природу. Для этой арт-экспедиции были выбраны специальные так называемые сакральные зоны, точнее восточно-христианские монастыри, которые находились на лоне нетронутой природы. Основное внимание было сосредоточено на пещерных храмах, список их был велик, и проект планировалось проводить в несколько этапов. Но, к сожалению, и на этот раз первоначальный замысел удалось реализовать лишь частично. Девизом биеннале стали слова «Печать, сотворение, природа». Кураторы задумали провести работы по маршруту: Монастырь Гегард в Армении, Вардзия в Грузии, Лалибелла в Эфиопии, Анатолийская Каппадокия, Синайские монастырские комплексы в Египте, Иваново в Болгарии и т.д. Участники биеннале, поэтапно путешествуя, должны были провести некоторое время вблизи этих монастырей, проникнуться их энергией, изучать их историю и одновременно работать индивидуально и коллективно. Сделанные работы и документальные свидетельства предстояло потом представить в Гюмри и издать многотомный каталог с текстами и работами авторов. Но по нехватке средств пришлось ограничиться посещением

некоторых монастырей в Армении и Грузинского пещерного монастыря Вардзия. Даже в таком сокращённом варианте биеннале оказалась живой и интересной. Это был плодотворный творческий опыт, к которому кураторы еще намерены вернуться. После 3-ей биеннале некоторые участники ещё раз посетили Армению с целью более близкого знакомства с её культурой и историей и для налаживания новых творческих контактов. По теме и задачам 4-ая Биеннале 2004 года, как и полагается авангардистам, была в авангарде. Впервые они организовали крупный международный форум, посвященный 1600-летию создания армянского алфавита Месропом Маштоцем. Девиз биеннале - «Коммуникация, письменность, текст». Эта биеннале отличалась изяществом и особым художественным качеством. Она была более камерной, исходя из заданной темы. Но по числу стран участников она превосходила предыдущую, на этот раз были представлены работы 70 художников из 21 страны. Кроме армянских кураторов Вазо и Азата, большую работу выполнил также приглашенный куратор из Англии, Брюс Алан. Организаторы биеннале никогда не ставили перед собой задачи любой ценой умножать число участников или расширять географию стран, а уж тем более приглашать знаменитостей. Летом 2006 года состоялась 5-ая юбилейная биеннале. Она отличалась тем, что пошёл процесс смены поколений. Бессменный тандем Вазо-Азат на этот раз выступал в качестве советников, главным куратором биеннале стала молодая художница из Еревана Арпине Токмаджян. Ей помогали координаторы Цолак Топчан (Гюмри), Нарине Золян и Арутюн Зулумян (Ереван), Марлен и Сюзи Саакяны (Швейцария) и Доминик Мейсон (Франция). В какой-то мере 5-ая биеннале повторяла модель 3-ей. Исходя из заданной темы «Море, мечты и иллюзии» она стартовала у берега озера Севан. Там, в деревне Артаниш и прибрежных пансионатах, в течение недели проводились разные арт-действия, создавались объекты, перформансы. Потом, уже в Гюмри, в экспозиционной части, биеннале включила в себя всю панораму проводимых работ. По числу прибывших участников эта биеннале превзошла прежнюю, и этот факт также свидетельствует о последовательном росте. Благодаря щедрой поддержке электронной компании «Зигзаг» несравненно более насыщенной была и медийная составляющая. Во время биеннале проводились также параллель2 ные программы. Из них можно выделить дискуссии о задачах современного искусства, которые велись между участниками под руководством искусствоведа из Еревана, председателя Национальной ассоциации критиков Назарета Карояна. Азат Саргсян и Ашот Авагян провели интересную акцию в горах Сисиана на юге Армении. Эта многогранная акция представляла собой ритуальное действо – прощание народа с последним художником Армении. Акция имитировала весь церемониал


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армянского похоронного обряда наших дней. Представитель ударной волны армянского авангарда 80-90 гг. Ашот-Ашот, долгие годы проживающий во Франции, приехал на родину с разными проектами. Наряду с участием в Гюмрийской биеннале он одновременно проводил мастер-классы со студентами гюмрийского Художественного института, в результате чего родился совместный проект с таинственным названием «Атаракция», который через год (июль 2007) был представлен в гюмрийской галерее “Style”. По окончании 5-ой биеннале в Армении в сентябре 2006 г. начались дни культуры во Франции. Часть работ биеннале, точнее произведения 15-ти художников из Армении и Франции, были представлены в рамках проекта “Grand Blue” в Ереване. Проект, который координировала Сюзи Саакян, был реализован при содействии посольства Франции в Армении и муниципалитета Лиона. Выставка экспонировалась в известной ереванской галерее современного искусства “Gallery Gevorkian”. Но «морской круиз» “Grand Blue” и Гюмрийская биеннале не были этим исчерпаны: в марте 2007 г. в центре Парижа в галерее “Artcore” была представлена несколько расширенная версия “Grand Blue”. На этот раз проект проводился в рамках года Армении во Франции. Кураторами выставки стали наши молодые соотечественники из диаспоры Марлин Саакян и Шогакат Казарян. Сейчас, накануне 6-ой биеннале основатели и организаторы имеют право констатировать факт основания фундамента «здания» современного искусства Гюмри. Несмотря на множество проблем и трудностей, которые, к сожалению, неизбежны в блокадной стране с переходной экономикой и деформированными социальными отношениями, и которые особенно остро ощущаются в еще не полностью восстановленном городе, организаторы настроены оптимистически. В 2006 году, к юбилею десятилетия биеннале один из основателей и куратор предстоящего Азат Саргсян выдвигает обширную программу с интересной темой: «Исторические трансформации и параллельные истории». Биеннале стартует 7-го сентября 2008 г., место встречи, как всегда - в Гюмри.

azat - ashot avagyan / the death of the last artist / 2006 / sisian


GYUMRI INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY ART

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Gyumri International Biennial of Contemporary Art will be celebrating its tenth year of existence with the 6th edition in August 2008 of which the theme will be: Transformation of History or Parallel Histories. Organised by GCCA, Gyumri Centre of Contemporary Art, an NGO founded by independent artists in 1997, there is no analogue contemporary art biennial to Gyumri biennial in post soviet space which has been going without interruption for such a length of time. Gyumri, second city of the Republic of Armenia, was then, not only facing a post soviet situation, but also the trauma of a great earthquake which took place in December 1988. Considering the context, Gyumri biennial ambitions have never been tremendous regarding size, but the biennial has shown dynamism and grown according to its goals. These goals, set over ten years ago, were to be the foundations of a long term strategy aiming to have Gyumri become one of the regional contemporary art centres: contribute to the development of Armenian contemporary art revue and to keep up the quality of the artistic production at an international level, promote a healthy and creative environment in the city and region after the inertia of the soviet period when local and international communication and information was greatly lacking, overcome the trauma of the post earthquake situation, support and develop new creative initiatives, particularly of young artists, encourage the development of contemporary Armenian culture by the decentralization of art life from the capital city, Yerevan, help to restore Gyumri to the influential cultural city it once was and to establish it as a regional contemporary art centre. Following these goals, GCCA has achieved: 5 biennials: 1998 - investigation, time and space 2000 - transition . point zero 2002 - imprint of creation: nature 2004 - letter, text, communication 2006 - sea: dreams and illusions the publication of the catalogues of each biennial the publication of an Armenian contemporary art revue: ArtToday (2 numbers to this day, a third one awaiting financial means to be printed) the production of TV programmes about art for the local channel artist and curator exchanges artist residence programmes educational programmes (essentially at Gyumri Fine Arts Academy). In the process, over 200 artists from approx 30 countries have participated (several artists having participated more than once), giving Gyumri artists, living a ghetto like situation, opportunity to make contacts with the outside world presentation of Armenian artists, from Gyumri in particular, at international events in Europe and worldwide. Open to all international exchanges, GCCA and Gyumri biennial focus on exchange with neighbouring countries (offering a space for cultural dialogue in a delicate political context), post soviet space, the near East, the Mediterranean and regions which offer historical and cultural parallels with Armenia. Having approx 2000 to 3000 people (mainly from Yerevan and the Diaspora) visiting Gyumri during the biennial is very important both economically and psychologically for a still very fragile population. The biennial makes it a point to collaborate with the local institutions (museums, galleries, etc.) which open their spaces but also to create partnerships with local enterprises which support the event as much as they can with the means they have. Considering cultural events are rare and contemporary art unheard of in Gyumri, the population attends in consequent numbers. One of GCCAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s missions is to open contemporary art language to a wider public. GCCA and the biennial have been managed by volunteers all this time. It has not found the necessary financial support to become an institution. On one hand, this makes organisation and fundraising difficult, but on the other hand the organisers are free to choose their themes, participants, etc. We like to think the Gyumri biennial the meeting point of a laboratory for free creation for a diversity of artists from different countries. In parallel to organising the event, energies are also concentrated on preparing the next generation to take over. fifth biennale / 2006


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2006

ARMÉNIE

l’automne 2006 à l’été 2007, l’Arménie et la France ont composé un programme de plusieurs centaines d’événements (théâtre, cinéma, littérature, musique, beaux-arts…), présentant sous le titre « Arménie mon amie », la culture arménienne. Certainement la manifestation la plus importante depuis l’indépendance de l’Arménie. Pour les beaux-arts, des miniatures du Moyen Age aux Khatchkars, des arts des 19e et 20e siècles d’Aïvazovski à Martiros Saryan et Arshile Gorki et bien entendu, un large panorama de l’art contemporain ont été exposés (cf.. www.armenie-mon-amie.com). On peut regretter que Gyumri, deuxième ville d’Arménie, dont le potentiel culturel est important, ait été si peu représentée. Néanmoins le Centre d’Art Contemporain de Gyumri (GCCA) a participé à plusieurs événements. Pendant cette période, les échanges culturels entre les deux pays ont été nombreux resserrant des liens fondés sur une histoire commune ancienne.

DE

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1 festival est-ouest 2006 2 résidence de Tsolak Topchyan, Lyon

projets de VAZO dans le cadre de “Traces d’Arménie en Rhone-Alpes”

Ce programme diversifié a débuté avec les journées françaises en Arménie à l’automne 2006. Suzy SAHAKIAN, membre du GCCA organisateur de la Biennale internationale d’art contemporain de Gyumri, assurait la coordination de l’exposition organisée à la galerie Gevorkyan à Yerevan avec le soutien de l’ambassade de France en Arménie et de la ville de Lyon. Intitulée « Grand Bleu », cette exposition réunissait essentiellement des artistes français et arméniens ayant participé à la Biennale de Gyumri 2006. Cette exposition a ensuite été accueillie par la galerie Artcore à Paris au printemps 2007. La collaboration entre le GCCA et le Festival Est-Ouest de Die en France remonte à 2000. Depuis les échanges ont été nombreux. Au printemps 2006, le Festival Est-Ouest organisait un forum de jeunes artistes et commissaires européens auquel participaient des artistes d’Estonie, de France, de Hongrie, de Pologne, de Roumanie, de Suisse et des trois républiques du Caucase du Sud (Arménie, Azerbaïdjan, Géorgie) dont Tsolak TOPCHYAN,


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FRANCE

2007

jeune artiste et commissaire arménien, membre du GCCA. A l’automne 2006, il était invité par l’association TROC, en résidence à l’Orangerie du Parc de la Tête d’Or à Lyon ainsi qu’au Festival Est-Ouest consacré au Caucase du Sud. De jeunes artistes français, rencontrés notamment lors du forum de Die, ont été invités à la Biennale de Gyumri 2006 : Cécile PAGES, Marlène PERRONET, Diego SARRAMON, … Cécile PAGES a présenté lors de la Biennale de Gyumri 2006, un travail sur le thème des frontières qu’elle a poursuivi en résidence à la galerie l’Arbre de Vie au Château de Blacons, à côté de Die. Vazgen PAHLAVUNI-TADEVOSYAN (VAZO), artiste et commissaire, fondateur de la Biennale de Gyumri, vit en France depuis quelques années. Il a présenté à Grenoble un projet consacré à la protection du patrimoine arménien et mondial, et à Vienne un projet sur le

projets de Cécile Pages en Arménie et en France

métissage des cultures arménienne et française. Cette série d’événements « Traces d’Arménie en Rhône-Alpes » était voulue par les villes de Grenoble (avec le soutien du collectif de l’Année de l’Arménie à Grenoble), Romans et Vienne. Le projet CORD est né de la rencontre d’artistes des trois républiques du Caucase du Sud, invités au Festival Est-Ouest 2006. Depuis le GCCA collabore activement avec Mkrtich MATEVOSYAN, originaire de Gyumri vivant à Yerevan, artiste et éditeur de la revue arménienne d’art contemporain a-Actual Art.


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D e u x «a r t i s t e s Hommages à … », Wattwiller et « Welcome to Paradise (lost) », Strasbourg pollonia, échanges artistiques européens, développe depuis 2005 un projet de résidences d’artistes européens en Alsace, coordonné par Darya Evdokimova. Cette année encore, grâce au soutien de la Région d’Alsace, deux artistes arméniens, Azat (Azat Sargsyan) et VAZO (Vazgen Pahlavuni-Tadevosyan), ont été invités à résider trois semaines à Wattwiller en vue de la préparation de performances et d’œuvres éphémères dans le cadre de la 10e Fête de l’Eau intitulée « ça s’arrose » (organisation : Pierre Ruch, direction artistique : Sylvie de Meurville). Azat et VAZO considèrent que la création artistique ne doit pas se cantonner à la production d’œuvres, mais engendrer des rencontres et des échanges et permettre d’ouvrir de nouvelles perspectives au public. Leur collaboration ne date pas d’hier puisqu’ils ont fondé, en 1997, le Centre d’Art Contemporain de Gyumri (GCCA) et la première biennale inter-

A

Fête de l’eau à Wattwiller


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arméniens en Alsace nationale d’art contemporain de Gyumri en 1998. Mais c’est là leur première collaboration artistique. Pour ces artistes, la création artistique doit être partagée non seulement lors de la présentation mais également lors de la réalisation. C’est dans cet esprit qu’Azat et VAZO ont envisagé cette résidence à Wattwiller. Ils ont proposé de souligner l’importance de l’eau et de l’art à travers une série d’installations. Le premier clin d’œil concerne les « demoiselles d’Avignon » de Pablo Picasso, tableau dont on célèbre le centenaire cette année. La copie de cette peinture qu’ils ont réalisée a été « baignée » dans une fontaine avec la participation des habitants de Wattwiller. Par cette performance, ils entendaient « rafraîchir » l’Avant-Garde tout en rendant hommage à leur grand prédécesseur. L’hommage à Albert Schweitzer, le grand humaniste, théologien, philosophe, musicologue et médecin missionnaire, né en Alsace, est symbolisé par une carte géante de l’Océan Pacifique qu’ils ont peinte, et sur laquelle ils ont fixé un miroir et un lavabo. Le message est simple mais d’actualité. Avant de puiser (et d’épuiser) dans les réserves d’eau, regardons-nous dans le miroir. Remémorons-nous la délicatesse et le respect observés envers la nature par ce grand philosophe. Marcel Duchamp et Hans Arp ont été mis à l’honneur lors d’ateliers pédagogiques avec de jeunes élèves de l’école primaire de Wattwiller. Les artistes ont fait découvrir aux enfants les vertus artistiques des objets de notre quotidien. Ainsi plusieurs petites piscines gonflables ont fait office de fontaines et ont accueilli des « ready-made » à la Marcel Duchamp. Hans Arp, peintre, sculpteur et poète alsacien, dadaïste puis surréaliste, intéresse Azat et VAZO en tant que l’un des créateurs de formes les plus extraordinaires du XXe siècle. Toujours grâce à un atelier pédagogique, les artistes ont proposé aux enfants de dessiner des formes en s’inspirant des œuvres d’Arp et de se les approprier en remplissant d’eau les volumes. Le liquide informe, incolore et inodore prend alors possession de sacs en plastique, ballons de baudruche, … Parallèlement, un film sur moniteur a présenté « Vartavar », une fête arménienne préchrétienne que Grégoire l’Illuminateur a transformée en célébration de la Transfiguration du Christ. Cette fête était l’occasion pour les Arméniens païens de célébrer la déesse Astghik en lui offrant des fleurs. Elle avait principalement lieu dans les montagnes, près des sources et des lacs considérés comme des lieux particulièrement sacrés. Des offrandes étaient déposées aux esprits de l’eau afin de garantir les pluies nécessaires aux cultures. De nos jours, les Arméniens célèbrent toujours Vartavar en s’arrosant d’eau. L’inauguration de cette fête aura été l’occasion de se mettre à l’heure de l’Arménie. Puis, Azat et VAZO ont pris la route de Strasbourg pour une exposition à l’espace Apollonia. Installations, photos, projections vidéos, une lecture artistique de l’actualité de l’Arménie : « Welcome to Paradise (lost) ». Espace Apollonia, Strasbourg


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ON 21 May 2007, the biennale of contemporary art of Thessalonique, second city of Greece, was inaugurated. Works are shown until 30 September 2007

Thessaloniki biennale / 21-23 May / 2007


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the general title of “Heterotopias”, the main body of the exhibitions and the artistic activities are accompanied by a series of parallel events, covering a wide range of artistic creation. The objective of this project is the public’s familiarization and participation with the current art scene, thus providing the audience with a convenient and friendly access to spaces which are not restricted to the museum’s walls. Organised by the State Museum of Contemporary Art of Thessalonique (SMCA), with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Greece, this first biennale has a very rich programme to which many of the city’s institutions and cultural organisations are participating. The main programmes are curated by: Catherine David, well known for her artistic direction in Documenta X, Kassel Jan-Erik Lundstrom, director of BildMuseet, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden, a museum of contemporary art and visual culture Maria Tsantsanoglou, director of SMCA GCCA and Gyumri biennial hereby congratulate the organizers of this first biennial and wish it long life. Two years ago, started a fruitful collaboration between the GCCA and the SMCA and Kalfayan Gallery, Thessalonique. Marlyne Sahakian, coordinator of Gyumri biennial 2006, was in contact with these organizations. As a result, SMCA supported Gyumri Biennial of contemporary art 2006 and Maria Tsantsanoglou curated the participation of artists from Greece. After this, Armenian artists, Arpine Tokmajyan, Vahram Agasyan, Mkrtich Tonoyan, Narine Zolyan, were invited in different programmes of Thessalonique’s first biennale of contemporary art and Vazgen Pahlavuni-Tadevosyan, founder of Gyumri Biennial, participated in a round table. Artists from Greece will again be invited to participate in the next Gyumri Biennial in September 2008 through the SMCA. Considering the many historical parallels and similar interests between these two second cities in their respective countries, we believe that this new partnership will continue and be developed.


LINDA GANJIAN

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Linda Ganjian / food art / 2007

GYUMRI CENTRE OF CONTEMPORARY ART (GCCA) PRESENTS

“I participated in the Parker’s Box IAM5! artist-driven art fair to celebrate their fifth anniversary in early May 2005 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I presented my Delicacies sculptures along with some edible food sculptures that I created for the occasion (mining the Asian supermarkets of Jackson Heights). I also fed the masses blueberry fortune cookies with art fortunes inside” (excerpts from artist’s writings).”

Linda GANJIAN was born in Brighton, Massachusetts, and raised in the suburbs of Boston. She received her B.A. (with a major in painting) from Bard College in 1992 and her M.F.A. from Hunter College CUNY in 1998. Her work has been exhibited in NYC, New Jersey, the Netherlands, Scotland and Armenia. She is one of the sure values of Armenian Diaspora artists of her generation. She has visited Armenia several times both for private and professional reasons. She was artist in residence in ACCEA, Yerevan in 2001 and has been collaborating with GCCA since its beginning and participated in 1998, 2000 & 2002 Gyumri biennials. In 2001, GCCA organized a workshop that she tutored with RENE GABI and Talin BERBERYAN. She, and her husband, American artist Jesse LAMBERT, also participated in 2002 Gyumri biennial.


Pulsar / Gyumri

PULSAR

Albert Vartanyan, sculpteur de Gyumri, a réalisé une œuvre en bronze intitulée « Pulsar ». Représentation de l’harmonie du cosmos, des valeurs humanistes, des croisements entre cultures, elle adresse au monde un message d’amitié de l’Arménie.

Avant de partir pour l’Allemagne, d’où provenait la commande, « Pulsar » est présentée au centre ville de Gyumri le temps d’une journée. Le 19 novembre 2006, la sculpture est installée à proximité de l’Eglise Evangélique de Bochum. La pièce a été réalisée grâce au soutien de la Galerie 25 et de l’Hôtel Berlin de Gyumri, ainsi qu’avec l’investissement actif d’Alexan Ter-Minasyan, directeur de ces structures. ”


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Ci-dessous, le discours d’Elvira Reith prononcé lors de l’inauguration. Après avoir participé à la première biennale de Gyumri en 1998, elle a entamé une collaboration intensive avec le GCCA et la biennale de Gyumri qui se poursuit aujourd’hui. Elvira Reith organise de nombreux échanges et événements artistiques entre l’Allemagne et l’Arménie, telle l’exposition au Centre Kopeliev de Cologne intitulée « Paysages perdus » à laquelle participaient plusieurs artistes de Gyumri.

Pulsar / Gyumri

Elvira Reith

(traduction libre de l’allemand)

Présidente de la société germano-arménienne, fondée en 1914 par Johannes Lepsius www.deutsch-armenische-gesellschaft.de

Cher Albert, chers invités, Je suis heureuse de tenir ce discours aujourd’hui à deux titres : collègue artiste et présidente de la société germano-arménienne. Semblant coupé du monde – à Guymri, en Arménie – tu as créé une œuvre tel un véritable alchimiste. Une œuvre sans pareil, qui exprime les changements sociaux et politiques de notre époque. Je me souviens toujours de l’aiguille gigantesque et du fil de fer avec lesquels tu avais voulu recoudre symboliquement les maisons après le tremblement de terre. C’était en 1998 à la première Biennale où nous avons fait connaissance. Je me souviens également de tes sculptures « Les Sept Blessures » et « Vision » qui parlent de la souffrance humaine et du génocide, ou encore l’œuvre « Les Jumeaux », qui réunit symboliquement la Turquie et l’Arménie, deux pays si divisés. Toujours en avance sur le temps et maintenant au milieu du bassin de la Ruhr nous inaugurons ton nouveau chef-d’œuvre « Pulsar », une sculpture de paix. Comme un merveilleux météorite, il semble être tombé du ciel. Une pierre de culte contemporaine, reflétant de brillantes civilisations, un Omphalos avec des citations de l’histoire ancienne de l’Arménie, des empires asiatiques, de la culture indienne, des traces inca et viking, une écriture cunéiforme comme un symbole archaïque et une ouverture de lumière en forme de croix – toutes rassemblées. « Pulsar » nous montre à quel point la paix, la liberté et l’expression artistique sont vitales. La sculpture, dans son essence, est la mise en conscience, l’expression concrète de la lumière précieuse. Par ton œuvre, sa concentration absolue, enracinée dans les éléments feu et terre, nous ressentons une incroyable énergie. « Pulsar » – un symbole d’espoir pour la paix dans le monde. ” Pulsar / Bochum


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ноябре 1986 г. в Ленинакане открылась выставка юмористического рисунка, где были представлены 93 карикатуриста со всего Советского Союза, среди них ведущие мастера этого жанра тех лет. Сегодня на Биеннале авангардного искусства в Гюмри участвуют мастера со всего мира, среди них тоже бывает немало знаменитостей, более того, они даже приезжают сюда. Но в 1986 г. выставки такого масштаба были большой редкостью, кажется, такое было в первый раз. Символом-покровителем выставки был избран ворон в шапке гюмрийских мастеровых. В виде большой куклы он присутствовал на экспозиции, а также на пригласительном билете – в образе Ноева ворона, того самого, которого так и не дождались на ковчеге. В 1986 г. он нашелся: оказывается, он обосновался в Ленинакане. Ной и его команда радуются, что нашли его, ворон тоже вроде бы рад. Он должен был впредь покровительствовать другим таким же выставкам – мы думали начать с этой выставки отсчет ленинаканских биеннале юмористического рисунка, но ворон вскоре снова пропал. Поговаривали, что он погиб во время землетрясения. Но по более достоверным слухам он снова отправился на поиски твердой суши. Говорят также, что за эти годы он так и не нашел надежного пристанища, где ему было бы так же уютно и весело, как в Ленинакане. И еще говорят, что он собирается вернуться, узнав, что Гюмри начал уже выходить из-под вод потопа. Многие надеются, в том числе и я, что он снова соберет карикатуристов – уже на международную выставку юмористического рисунка.

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Почему ворон? Карикатуристам вообще свойственно по-новому смотреть на известные вещи. Но здесь дело даже не в этом. Кстати, голубь, который в отличие от ворона вернулся на ковчег, за что его сделали эмблемой мира, одна из самых драчливых и жестоких птиц. Ворон же, оставив на ковчеге свою пару (злые языки говорят, что из-за нее он и не вернулся на ковчег), нашел более интересное место, о чем мы узнали только в 1986 г. Как известно, ворон – долгожитель. Согласно старому анекдоту, он жил бы дольше, если бы люди поменьше каркали. Он всегда рядом с нами, никуда не улетает зимой, незаметный и не очень любимый, он все знает о нас. Недаром у ряда северных народов ворон – медиатор между жизнью и смертью, верхом и низом, водой и сушей, создатель суши, всего мира, в том числе людей. Кстати, в вавилонском, раннем варианте истории о потопе именно невозвращение ворона служит знаком того, что суша уже появилась, голубь же возвращается ни с чем. Библейская версия все переиначила, заложив длящееся по сей день очернительство ворона. И еще, что особенно важно для нас, часто ворон – плуттрикстер, что роднит его с

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Левон Абрамян этнограф, искусствовед

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Гюмри / 1986


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карикатуристами. Недавно он показал еще одну веселую черту своего характера: вороны стали скатываться по позолоченному куполу московского храма ХристаСпасителя, чтобы взлететь в последний момент и вернуться к кресту на вершине для нового скольжения, при этом царапая когтями позолоту. Так, видимо, они решили совместить забаву с местью за библейский наговор. Выставка 1986 г. проходила в переломные годы горбачевской перестройки, за год и три месяца до карабахских выступлений, которые некоторые называют армянской революцией, и почти за два года до землетрясения в городе, гостеприимно принявшем выставку. Неудивительно, что в ней нашли отражение проблемы переходного периода, которые, однако, воспринимаются сегодня как проблемы сегодняшнего дня – верный признак истинности для работ проблемной графики, как иногда называют жанр, представленный большей частью на выставке. Этой направленностью на «всегда» данный жанр отличается от более известных «одноразовых» ответвлений карикатуры, ориентированных только на «сейчас». Приведу лишь несколько примеров. Слепцы, т.е. мы, испокон веков полагаемся на поводыря. К чему это может привести, если поводырь сам слепец, мы знаем из знаменитой картины Брейгеля, которую Михаил Златковский пере4 иначил со “слепым” поводыремавторитетом (в те годы авторитет однозначно читался как советский вождь), который никуда не ведет. Леонид Тишков предлагает более неопределенное и экзистенциальное решение проблемы поводыря: это марионетка, которая указывает путь своему слепому кукольнику. Арутюн Самуэлян пессимистически изображает, как из головы человека выкапывают всевозможные, видимо, все наличные словамысли. А может быть, это особо изощренный способ медитации, изобретенный автором? Как бы то ни было, более оптимистически и демиургически настроен 13-летний участник выставки Григор Бабаян: его герой произносит слово «бабочка», слово сворачивается в куколку, из которой вылупляется бабочка. Примеры таких парных рисунков-диалогов можно продолжить. На выставке были и одиночные работы-монологи. Немало было и многоголосых полифоний. Приведу еще два примера. Герой Павла Джангирова собирается покончить с собой, бросившись в воду, но останавливается на миг, чтобы предупредить неосторожного прохожего об открытом люке, куда тот может угодить. Надо думать о ближнем, как бы тебе ни было плохо самому. Алексей Дегтярев и Алексей Михайлусев довели это кредо карикатуриста до труднодостижимого идеала: их герой умудряется смешить людей даже пригвожденной к кресту рукой. Это гуманистическое кредо. Есть также и 5

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другие, но о них я не буду здесь говорить.

На выставке мы испробовали первый опыт инсталляции – с упомянутой громадной куклой ворона. Боюсь, кукла не выжила после землетрясения. Землетрясение «естественным» образом сделало инсталляцию и перформанс обычным явлением в Гюмри. Начал эту традицию Вазген Пахлавуни-Тадевосян со своего Метаполиса – обширного квартала с заброшенной техникой и зачатками мегаполисного строительства, который он художественно отредактировал (см. о Метаполисе в первом номере «Арт айсор» за 2003 г., с. 4-7, и на с. 64 настоящего издания). Позже эти жанры получили свое развитие в гюмрийских биеннале авангардного искусства. Сегодня эти способы художественного выражения становятся как будто способом нашей повседневной жизни – слишком много в ней абсурдного, быстро ржавеющего и поспешно выброшенного. Впрочем, инсталляция и перформанс окружают нас вроде бы и в более благополучной ситуации. Так, в 2004 г. на выставке «Иранское современное искусство: три поколения» (о ней см. во втором номере «Арт айсор» за 2004 г., с. 85), которая проходила в Ереване, в Национальной картинной галлерее, я стал свидетелем многоступенчатого перформанса. У входа на выставку священник в рясе, мой старый знакомый, совершал обряд снятия страха у какого-то подростка. Священник объяснил мне, что мальчик испугался перформансу иранской концептуалистки. Вскоре я ее увидел. Мальчику было от чего испугаться: концептуалистка в странном длинном одеянии и с еще более странным лицом и выражением на нем расхаживала по залам и делала что-то странное с непонятным предметом в руках, напоминающим колдовской жезл. Ее-то перформансу и испугался мальчик, которого лечил священник. Выходя на улицу, я увидел небольшую демонстрацию наших «зеленых», они протестовали по поводу насущных экологических проблем, все были в одинаковых майках с особой значимой эмблемой на груди. Внезапно я увидел, или мне показалось, что увидел, как с той стороны, где раньше стояла статуя Ленина, ко мне летит громадный ворон, вроде бы тот самый, что нашел свое пристанище в 1986 г. на выставке юмористического рисунка в городе Ленинакане. 1

Арутюн Самуэлян

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Михаил Златковский

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Григор Бабаян

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Павел Джангиров

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Алексей Дегтярев Алексей Михайлусев Леонид Тишков

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Koka Ramishvili

FROM DOCUMENT TO IMAGE

artists, founder of many creative groups and institutional initiatives, author of numerous curatorial projects. Lives, teaches and works in Geneva.

Designer Eric Giroud and a Friend Catherine de Charriere talked with Koka Ramishvili Wednesday, February 14, 2007 in Geneva. with thanks to the site http://www.mbfconcept.com which made this interview possible. Excerpts


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ERIC GIROUD - Why did you return to painting at this point in your carrier? KOKA RAMISHVILI - I was born and raised in the Soviet Union. In Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, I studied architecture, industrial design and film. However, painting was the most exciting media and was what really had an impact on me. I worked with painting over 15 years until 1991 and for part of 1992-93. In 1991, I started to work in documentary photography, which made a big change in my way of seeing and lets say also, my art “strategy”. I made two very important works, «War from my window» and «Prognostic Eventual» (documenting the interiors of diplomatic missions in Tbilisi after «Perestroika») The works came had great significance for me as I got invited to important and interesting exhibitions in Europe and other countries. It was a crucial moment in my career. I was working with real documents by means of photo and film. I documented the history of Georgia in the 90-s after the crash of the USSR. ERIC GIROUD - Was it in 1992? KOKA RAMISHVILI - From 1991 to 2000, I was mostly occupied with documentation. For me a document has much to do with reality which one can fix using video, film or photographic paper. I do not really like to employ video or photography for making or inventing images. I have never done this. ERIC GIROUD - Or fiction? KOKA RAMISHVILI - Maybe… yes… ERIC GIROUD - You mean, you used an image like a print.

KOKA RAMISHVILI - I just wanted to make these documents unique. A document, as soon as it is made, becomes a part of history, the history of a human being, of a country, or the course of development. I mean, it is part of history, a real part and that is why during those 10 years, I was pre-occupied with documentation. However, let us come back to your question. Before Switzerland, I was working in Germany and in the UK. I had not established my own platform or social space in these countries. Of course, some processes were happening. It was quite difficult because on the one hand, I did not want to work on documents again … and also documents about what? On the other hand, there were too many people working on this in the West. Therefore, it wouldn’t be interesting for me or for other people… At that point, I decided to start working with making images again. The first artwork I made at this stage was the video project «Drawing Lessons». It was opposed to the main trends of video making art of the time. I made something radical and very eccentric. The «Drawing Lessons» was a biography written by drawing images out of a photo, video or film. The drawings themselves were awful; what was most important for me was the montage. What I made was a kind of sculpture in virtual space. I was working with compression and decompression. It was similar to drawing inside virtual space, plus real drawings performed by me. It was very important to me to show what was forbidden in Western countries, to show «handarbeit». This is a political question. I am not interested in speaking about it now. I am more interested in speaking about painting. However, the «Drawing Lessons» gave me the possibility of going back to painting. Painting is something more than documentation. Photography refers to the memory of color while painting is already a color in the space of painting. Painting derives from a body and has a di-


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rect relation with the body. It is not a technical product. It is tactile, you have to touch and you have to do something with it. I mean, it is closer to the body and that is what interests me. It is an essential part of my vocabulary and platform. I have two contrasting directions: I work with an image and I work with documents. I always work with both but I show them separately. I want people to look at my work and understand very clearly which is an image and which is a document. I do not want to mix them and make a fiction of documentation. I have a work ‘Fictional Documentation’ where I have used photography presented as a false document. It is the only example in my work. Paintings have something to do with the future. It is like making something «in the future» while documents have something to do with past, that in its turn, is connected to memory. Painting is something you do for the future; it is a kind of platform for the future. This is not my own theory. For example Deleuze, (I do not really like to mention him as today everybody is quoting him) has written in one of his books about the clinic and the critic. He says when one wants to show reality, he falls ill. It is a clinical condition, when you are somewhat hypnotized and cannot turn back. When you look at photography, a real document, it is always like hypnoses, as you cannot change the reality you see in it. Never. It is impossible, because to change anything you need to do something, to


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take action. My point is that we cannot change reality unless we DO something. Only if you do something, you may change reality. What does it mean? You have to draw, by hand, by mind, with your legs, with life. Drawing is a kind of metaphor for me, while a montage is a kind of drawing. There are many examples of photographic documents, how they touch you, how they hypnotize you. You can only look at documented reality but never change it as it belongs to the past. To oppose this you have to draw. You have to draw your future. This is how it works. In addition, painting is something that comes from the depth of your body. It is very important. It is altered less by technology, as technology does not influence it that much. Therefore, painting maintains a degree of freedom within art activity. Painting has nothing to do with documents, with naturalism, with, let’s say, social frames, etc. To draw your future is like a designer’s project, when Eric’s Giroud draws a project … ERIC GIROUD - Yes, it is in fact very similar to design, because when I make a project, I start with a drawing. I draw what will exist in the future, and only then, the result emerges. KOKA RAMISHVILI - It is a very good example. It is a fact. You cannot make the future or any kind of product out of photography.

These are two different worlds. The world of documents associated with the past and the world of images, associated with the future. For example, one of the best documents, for me is the one associated with police stations: I mean the documents from CCTV cameras surveying the streets, big shops, etc. These are real documents, as the police are only interested in having a real document. It is something very important. In one of my works, I have used the footage taken by street surveillance camera. However, if we come back to an image, now it is more important and interesting for me personally than documents. ERIC GIROUD - Also with painting, it is one piece, one price KOKA RAMISHVILI - Yes, that is correct. On the other hand, if we speak also body wise, painting is healthy, unique, and poison free. It is not a reflection of the reference to color. If you have a red painting, the color is in the space. If you have a red color in photography, you have to go into your memory to look for the red color as photography shows only the information about red, the color. The painting does not show the information about red. It is very different. It is as if pornographic images are opposed to real sex. Painting is real sex. Photography is not tactile but only informational. Painting and sculpture are tactile as they have an aura of touch. In this sense, photography is like pornography as it is


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not tactile. It is only made for getting pleasure through the memory of touch in the past. ERIC GIROUD - and you don’t have touch. When one buys a drawing, a sketch, a design one buys the direct touch. When one buys photography, it is made in a lab, and is touched by an unknown person. Last week, we saw the big monochromes of Yves Klein, the big ones…. When you are close to them, it is crazy,… the color vibrates so much! KOKA RAMISHVILI - That is why it is so expensive, because, it is real. It is not only the blue color; it is the infinite world of blue. ERIC GIROUD - The reproductions can never affect you this way. That is why your decision to make portraits interests me right now. It is another world, also a classical world. KOKA RAMISHVILI - Portraits are the most usual and unusual things in the history of painting. I have learned a lot from painting. The most important thing that excited and deeply touched me was the portraits of painters. I am not a landscape painter. I am an indoor painter. I cannot paint outside. I paint inside the room and I paint a human being of course. If nobody is in the room, the space is empty. I do not want to paint an empty space. That is why I paint a portrait in the empty space. That is the idea behind it. When I look into somebody’s eyes, it is more interesting for me than looking at a landscape. It is like a microcosm that is closer to me than a macrocosm, emphasizing that I am inside the room and not outside. Take the work, for example of Anselm Kiefer who makes big paintings of landscape, incredible paintings, but it is not mine…. Matisse in his studio, Francis Bacon in his studio fascinates me more… I am more interested in intimacy. When I draw a body of a human being, I am in this body, and I really like it. It is like touching somebody. That gives me an energy and power and I like it. What I have to do is to create a kind of new world. For me it is something I can realize through color. Colors are very important to me. I am not talking only about the physical side of a color. A color is, let’s say, a part of our spiritual existence. I am interested in Goethe’s theory of color, because it has much to do with the moral side of one’s life. For example, you are sitting in a Red Cabinet and waiting for a very important person… It is very clear. However, sitting in a Green Cabinet with yellow walls and waiting for the same person could be very strange… Serious things have something to do with a red color… not every red, but some aspects of red. It is a kind of moral constituent of colors. You can also show people through color: everybody has his own color or tonality and that is why I am interested in working with it. I want the people having bought my work to bring home something more profound than a formal surface. I would like to build a real atmosphere in the small space around my paintings. Human beings always look for something, for love, for a smile, for anything with touch in it… We do not want to be surrounded only by decorations and beautiful things. We need to deal with our inside world, with being ill and alone, and you know… being afraid… That is why I am interested in working with what is inside and not with decoration. I try to bring out something of the atmosphere, something sacral and something like fresh air. I try to make the aura of the work visible. ”

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‘War from my Window‘ / 1991-1992 /B/W photographs on Aluminium / series / 12 pieces / 40X50 cm ‘Drawing Lesson‘ / 2003 / color video installation / MAMCO/ Geneva ‘Violet Day shadow’ / diptych / 2006 / oil on canvas / 50X80 cm Finish Boy’ / 2006 /oil on canvas / 40X40 cm ‘Tony Blear suppresses his workmate’ / 2006 / diptych / oil on canvas / 30X50 cm Lucifer’s Flower’ / 2006 / oil on canvas / 30X25 cm


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THE INCIDENT OF BIENNALE Caucasian Biennale Declaration 2006, an international exhibition held in October 2006 in Tbilisi declared the event to be a component of the upcoming Caucasian Biennale in 2007. The leitmotif of most works presented at the exhibition, was ‘The Changing World’ in the sense of social transformations. With a few exceptions the art presented at the exhibition, was similar to many others represented as the ‘Art of Post Soviet Countries’. Laying a claim to being contemporary and having ambitions to be part of a well-developed art context, it frequently speculates on the ‘basic values’ (national, religious), repeatedly placing itself on the periphery of the global art scene. However, the formulation is more the product of the organizers conception of such exhibitions, whose deliberation is insufficient and whose approach towards art within local contexts is not thoughtful enough. The gradual inclusion of the countries of socalled Post Soviet space into a global art context is already an obvious tendency. For the most part the art presented at the exhibition in Tbilisi was from the countries of the South Caucasus (also Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Turkey and Iran). The exhibition consisted of several parts: the main exposition in a three-story building of the Children’s National Picture Gallery, the conference “Art in a Changing World’ and the master-classes lead by foreign curators and artists, the guests of the event. In particular, a lecture of Antonio Geuza (curator), devoted to the Russian video art, held in the local Goethe institute was of interest. Antonio tracked the development of the genre in Russia through presenting the works of Boris Yjukhananov ’New Academy’ (‘Pirate TV’), the group ‘Blue Noses’, artists Gia Rigvava (‘All of them are Liars’), Anton Litvin, Anna Yermolaev, KD, and also the work of Andrey Monastyrski ‘Conversation with a Lamp’ rarely seen even in Moscow. The exhibition in the Children’s National Picture Gallery was divided into the participant countries and presented by the artists-participants as thematic projects. The artists from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Germany came together in the

THE

Alexandra Galkina artist, curator. Since 1997 participated in various art initiatives, such as ‘The School of Contemporary Art’, the project by Avdey Ter-Oganjan, ‘Nongovernmental Control Commission’ and ‘Radek Community’ by Anatoly Osmolovsky. Lives and works in Moscow.

exhibition “Eco Topia - The Modern Art and Ecology’ held in one of the halls of the venue. The conception of the show was to imply the cooperation of modern art and ecology. As critic Khatuna Khabuliani explains, the ecological themes in traditional Georgian painting is the subject of aesthetization when ‘landscapes and still-lives are to solve the issues of colour”. As for the Soviet period the motifs of nature were more likely to take the form of a safe theme in which artists felt protected, avoiding the questions at issue (the classic examples are the paintings of Pirosmani and conceptual landscapes of David Kakabadze). The exhibition included both individual works and recorded interviews with the artists commenting on the works and offering their own projects. Nino Sekhniashvili is anxious about the problem of growing radiation. She suggests measuring the degree of radiation in art galleries in different countries for subsequent comparison. Artist Sofo Tabatadze speaks about the garbage dumps that can be met in Georgia even next to luxurious houses. The owners of the houses are not confused with it and remain indifferent to what happens behind their own walls. One more respondent, a sculptor Mamuka Samkharadze is concerned by the inadmissible, in his opinion, proximity of the Lisi Lake to dwelling houses. In the film, there is a fragment of his performance ‘Meditations in Dance’ at the lake. As Eve Khachatrjan (curator) has noted, in the associated text to the Armenian part of the exhibition, there is a question, whether art can be instrumental in solving the social issues. With reference to the show in Tbilisi, the project presented by the Georgian curator George Kevle seemed the most interesting. Two years ago, within the Art Caucasus 2005 he organized the exhibition ‘Other Caucasus’. At the Caucasus Biennale Declaration 2006, he presented the most successful exhibition of the event. It refers to ‘Teppanyaki’. In the catalogue made, by the way, entirely in English, in the manner of ‘why not’, is given a brief explanation containing the citation from Wikipedia (the network open encyclopaedia).


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Teppanyaki is the Japanese kitchen where everything is cooked on a special big frying pan. In the middle of the 20th century Teppanyaki was popularised in America by one of the restaurant networks, and gained a new meaning, in which the entertaining process of preparing a dish in a Japanese kitchen began to be referred to. The creators of the exhibition used this very approach for the exhibition. It is easy to pick up on the irony, the ‘buffoon’ like behaviour of a country on the periphery in its relation to the political centre-monopoly (cultural, in particular). All the works of the exhibition are the result of spontaneous on the spot performative actions that conceptually respond to the name of the show. The language of presentation is laconic and simple. On one of the walls Georgian artist Melano put a large stain of oil, shaped as a flower. The work’s title is ‘Oil flower’. Next to it, there is a work by Gago ‘Condition 8’. A towel previously soaked in “brilliant” (ethyl) green and braided many times over

is put on two horizontal rods fixed on the wall. The area around the object remained splashed with ethyl green. The annotation of the work by Giorgi Kevle ‘Stain 1,2,3’ – three small stains of a pale-red colour says ‘the blood infected by AIDS, blood of a sheep and a spot of paint’. ‘Through my Mouth’, the work by Giorgi Marr presented four lines of vertical rows of multi-coloured chewing gums. The artist chewed each of them and put on the wall. As a whole, the project ‘Teppanyaki’ is quite convincing. However, the looseness of the presentation gave an impression to the exhibition ‘The Caucasian Biennale Declaration’ of something opaque. The value of similar exhibitions in local and/or international context is doubtful. Certainly, the exhibition ‘Declaration’ and the Caucasian Biennale declared on 2007 should have some influence on the local cultural context (tourist interest in region will grow). However, it can hardly add to the international ranking of the artists.

Nino Sekhniashvili /‘Caution Radiation‘ /2006 / lithography


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TBILISI TIMES Lasha Bakradze Linguist, writer and philosopher, studied theology, politics and history in Georgia and Germany, is published in Georgian and German periodicals. At the moment works on the creation of the Georgian Film archive.

Photos by Marianne Eigenheer ‘Old Tbilisi’ / Georgian State Archive

the evenings, when it cools down a little bit, young girls walk around in shorts and flip-flops in front of the Iveria Hotel, on the Republic Square. You would never see such a thing in Tbilisi just ten years ago. It’s true that the city is built on the river bank but in socialist times, everything was covered with cement and concrete and the city was isolated from the river and the water. Today you can easily picture the evening sun setting down on a spectacular riverbank right there, at the barrier where the square ends and the steep downhill heads down to the river Mtkvari. You get the impression that you can hear the sound of the waves too. It’s like the young ladies, the refugees from Abkhazia, have brought the sea along with them from home. The feeling that the sea has moved closer to Tbilisi is reinforced by the names of the cafes and restaurants: Dolphin, Flamingo, The Palm, or simply, The Coastline Café. These names also reveal that the owners are most likely refugees too. Often, you have to tell the taxi drivers where to go; they are also refugees and just getting used to finding their way around the city. Every tenth resident of the city is a refugee. Despite this, they get on with the locals quite well. During the centuries, this city has developed a remarkable characteristic; it takes in everybody and everything, but remains unchanged. Back in the 942-943 an Arab adventurer Ibn Haukal wrote, “Tbilisi residents are very open-hearted and hospitable to foreigners. They remain friendly to all the visitors as long as these people are a little open-minded and willing to learn.” The reason for such, at times even exaggerated tolerance to strangers was not only the friendly relations of Georgia with the rest of Caucasus, which, by the way, could easily turn into indifference, but also, the influence of the Arab rule since the 7th century A.D. The Tbilisi Emirate gradually lost ties with the rest of the mother land and, in the 9th - 10th centuries became an Islamic island surrounded by Christian kingdoms and administrative units. Tbilisi emirs, who later became the heads of the city, had to put up with different ethnicities and religions, as there was no other way they could continue existence. Refugees and un-

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conventional thinkers from all over the East flooded Tbilisi. The tradition of tolerance was carried on by Georgian kings and in 1122, when Tbilisi was reinstated as the capital of Georgia, the Law of Tolerance was passed. The ethnic, religious and cultural background of the city was constantly changing. In 1891, Werner von Siemens, who was traveling

tance it looks quite alright, but the moment you step inside you realize you were mistaken. The streets are narrow, winding and it’s almost impossible to pass through them. You see dirt everywhere, which is quite revolting for a European. With the exception of the churches and the communal buildings, all the houses look run down and badly-built; needless to mention anything about the facilities in

to Caucasus for the third time, wrote in his memoirs: During those 23 years which have passed since my previous visit, Tbilisi does not seem to have changed a lot externally, but it has definitely lost the charm and can no longer brag about being the Paris of Asia. Tbilisi was not only the residence of great noblemen, but also the place where eminent locals lived. Now things are quite different. A quarter of a century ago, the city was still Georgian; Georgians were in charge of the best lands and the city administration. But even back then, Armenians started expanding and little by little the land passed on to them. The proud, beautifully armed Georgians vanished from the Tbilisi streets. A German scientist Lehman-Haupt remarks that the observations of the beginning of the 20th century about Tbilisi are accurate and reliable, but he also criticizes this information for being somewhat exaggerated. Werner von Siemens’ statement about the city not having changed its outer face during the 23 years lack precision. Exactly during that period many construction projects were under way, and the city expanded greatly. But, apparently, the traveler was unable to notice all those changes. To him, it seemed like the city was stuck in time. Judge for yourselves; Tbilisi, being the part of the Russian Empire, was quite quick to join the railway line (1872). The telephone (1893) and the telegraph (1896) were also swiftly introduced. The first cinema viewing session was held in Tbilisi only a year after the discovery of cinematography in 1896. What impact did all this have on the mentality of a Georgian; almost no impact at all. The achievements in technology are also implied. They simply got out of carts and started using the cars. Different visitors leave Tbilisi with completely different impressions. Ida Pfeifer, one of the first female travelers in the world, visited Tbilisi in 1848. She was very impressed by the look and spirit of the city. “It is built in European style, and as far as I am concerned, I haven’t seen any other city, except Valparaiso, which resembles European cities as much as Tbilisi.” Another visitor, Ana Forneris, an Austrian from Kernten, lived in Tbilisi between 1830 and 1831. Her memories are quite different: “Tbilisi is a very important city and when you look at it from a dis-

those places or how comfortable they are. Some people do their business on the flat roofs of the houses, and it’s the rain that has to flush it all down. If the roofing is not quite good, the stuff gets down into the rooms, which certainly causes very bad smell and a lot of unpleasant emotions...” This is how different the comments about Tbilisi are. In 1673, Jean Chardin describes Tbilisi as a prosperous city with a number of palaces and a huge wall surrounding it. Another French Joseph Tornefeau, who traveled here in 1700, is only surprised by what Chardin says and remarks, that the fence around a garden in France is higher than the wall around Tbilisi. There are extremely different and highly controversial views about Tbilisi, as well as about the beauty of Georgian women. A staff member of the German Embassy in St. Petersburg, Max von Tilman, visited the city in 1872 and described it as “the city of contrasts” where he could observe all the advantages and disadvantages of both Asian and European ways of life. Still, one of the most common mistakes is that Tbilisi is considered to be semioriental and semi-European; it is considered that this is where the border between Asia and Europe can be felt. Bernhard Stern wrote in 1893: Apart from Cairo, no other oriental city offers so many colorful and interesting sceneries as Tbilisi does. The East and the West, two worlds that are so different, blend together in this small land. The European culture prospers within the closed walls of the Orient. Solid buildings stand along the streets, and ostentatious looking shops with mirror-like windows are filled with all kinds of goods from the big European cities. But right opposite, on the other side of the streets, you can see small huts, booths and open-air workshops; on the one side European style, European clothes and on the other, no trace of anything European at all. Everything is Asian here: people of unknown nationality walking along the narrow, bending streets, wearing strange clothes, speaking a foreign language, and somewhere in this deafening noise on hears the sounds of Southern animals. In the bestsellers by Friedrich Bodenstedt One Thousand and One


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Nights in the Orient and The Songs of Mirza Shafi, which came out in the mid 19th century, the Caucasus and Tbilisi acquire a mythic character. Even a famous tale-teller Hans Christian Andersen had his birds fly to Caucasus, “I asked them to pass my greetings on to the Caucasian Mountains; to the wild noisy rivers, where tigers quench their thirst; to Tbilisi and to the gorgeous Cherkez women.” However, the people living here wanted to live neither in the country of fables nor in the land of adventure (Knut Hamsung). They cared little about the imaginary border between Europe and Asia. They lived in Tbilisi, governed by those distinguished traditions that they themselves brought along to the city. During the centuries Tbilisi was The City, or “Kalaki” in Georgian, not only for Georgians, but also for all the people of Caucasus. If anyone said they were going to The City, it was clear that they meant Tbilisi. In some languages Tbilisi was simply called “Kalak”. Every newcomer brought some of his culture along to the city something his own - just like the refugees from the Black Sea brought along the nostalgia for the sea. Despite the fact that more than 20% of the country’s population lives here, Tbilisi is completely different from the rest of the many diverse parts of Georgia. The capital has never been the mirror of the country. Georgians often ask each other, “Where are you from?” meaning, “What is your origin?” It is implied that almost everybody living in Tbilisi originates from some village. If not personally, at least the parents or the grandparents would be from a village. Almost everybody keeps in touch with their village roots. During the times of economic poverty, this is quite convenient. Many went back to their villages and grew crops, or their relatives, living in the village, helped them with food. Indigenous Tbilisi natives are a great rarity these days. We can say, that the last genuine Tbilisi native was the poet Ioseb Grishashvili. In his 1920 book called The Literary Bohemia of Old Tbilisi, he wrote about the kind of a city that no longer exists now. His regrets

about the destruction of the city are expressed in his poem Farewell to Old Tbilisi or Duduki Tunes Fade Away With The Wind. While reading the works of Ioseb Grishashvili we realize that the city we live in now has nothing in common with the Tbilisi in the old days. Becoming a Soviet state was a real disaster for the city. The Communists not only separated the river from the city; there are no more celebrations like “Qeenoba”, or “Kochebi” fights, or wrestling. There is no “Karachoghloba” either. The Kurdish women were the last to give up their beautiful, layered, motley atlas skirts. Tbilisi has changed, but it is still diverse. Highlanders from faraway villages and peasants from Georgian provinces, stuck in the Middle Ages, brought along their own customs and traditions. And now, after the destruction of socialism, we are going back to the times we thought were all forgotten. Religious young ladies wear scarves around their heads even to University, and the young men perform ancient pagan rituals, which have only a little bit of Christian meaning to them. Celebrations, weddings and funerals are the meeting points of modernity and the past. The youngsters wear exactly the same kind of clothes as their piers in the Western metropolitan cities. They also navigate the Internet in the same way, but behave quite differently in the family circle; in the old-fashioned way. These adolescents have exactly the same idols as the adolescents in the far West, but have very distinguished values and completely different ideas about the family and relationships between the sexes. They look modern from outside, but from inside, though sometimes subconsciously, they’re unconventionally traditional. Sometimes they exist in two different dimensions; American-Western-European, on the one side, and in their own Tbilisi dimension, on the other. Possibly, it would be more correct to speak not about which continent, but which time Tbilisi belongs to. Probably this is the very reason why the travelers had so much trouble. Tbilisi has its own time; it lives in its own time. ”


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It is built in European style, and as far as I am concerned, I havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seen any other city, except Valparaiso, which resembles European cities as much as Tbilisi. Ida Pfeifer, Tbilisi,1848


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Natalia Zolotova curator, art critic / Tbilisi-Moscow

CONTEMPORARY CAUCASUS

– a big international exhibition of contemporary art - was held for the second time already in Tbilisi from October, 5th to 9th 2005, exactly a year after the first one. This simple fact can be considered the first indisputable victory of its organizers (Nana Kirmelashvili, Iliko Zautashvili, Magda Guruli, etc.) over the chaos that prevails in art, but also over general and personal pessimism and over the infinite amount of difficulties and obstacles, familiar to artists, art-managers and curators from around the world. The regularity of a large event – whatever its size, is already something to be proud of, especially at its beginning. No need to go over the whole of Russian martirology since born-dead art initiatives are unfortunately more than familiar to us. It is common in Georgia too: we witnessed the first and last international biennale of contemporary art held in Tbilisi in 1996, the first and last issue of the art-magazine ‘Signal’ in 1998, the first and last newspaper on art and urbanism ‘Iliazd’ in 2002, etc. However, it is worth remembering that unaccomplished art projects and unfinished art works are natural for any artist, who has the immanent right (unlike art-managers) not to think about the spectator. That’s why it is an innate part if not a feature of the vibrant art process. The vivid and sound art process proceeds in Georgia for a long time now – about three millenniums. Fortunately, something has changed in today’s Georgia in this fundamental sense. Several exhibitions, art actions, conferences, performances and presentations attended by dozens of art-groups, galleries and artists from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, the USA, the Great Britain, Israel, Switzerland, Canada, France,

ART CAUCASUS

Greece and Italy took place at different venues in Tbilisi within five days of the work of Art Caucasus. Among the most impressive events should be mentioned the noncommercial international exhibition of actual art, the exposition ‘Other Caucasus’ of the ‘Creatorea’ art-group, poetic readings of Dmitry Prigov and Kote Kubaneishvili, and number of performances and discussions with the participation of well-known Turkish artist and writer Bedri Baykam. The Russian National Center for Contemporary Art was present through a number of small photo and video projects (curator Vitali Patsiukov), and by the attendance of Leonid Bazhanov, expert of Georgian art, consultant, friend and VIP-guest. Within the framework of the Art Caucasus, on October 7-8 was conducted the conference ‘Beyond Stereotypes’, dedicated to the urgent problems of interaction of global art processes, to new opportunities for the popularization of contemporary art as well as to illusions and reality of the modern art market. One more important theme of discussions turned out to be the perspectives of South Caucasus on the world’s contemporary art map. The discussions not only revealed the major international interest in the region, but also the high degree of reflection exerted by modern Georgian intellectuals. The presentation of a new art magazine ‘LOOP’, held during the exhibition, was another serious evidence of deep introspection. The periodical, positioned as an international contemporary art magazine, is bilingual – English and Russian. Georgian, English and Russian were equally heard throughout the whole event. One could also hear some Armenian, Turkish, French, Azerbaijanis and Italian. As a matter of fact, there was nothing considerably new in it. Georgia looked as it always does – open, multinational, creative and invariably benevolent. ”


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T HE WA RR IOR S OF Natalia Mali artist, the author and director of several documentaries, video art projects and performances. Her works are widely shown in Russia and Europe. Lives and works in Moscow and London.

to the Warriors of Turan, the idea to make a photographic series took some time to mature. Initially I was carefully studying pre-war photographs of my ancestors trying to grasp the mood and the state of mind of the persons standing in front of the camera. At some point I got an impression that the women on those photographs looked like valiant Djigit warriors whereas the men resembled beautiful and vulnerable young ladies. The atmosphere reigning in that photo studio also reminded me of some kind of theatrical show where the main character took up the role of another character who pretended to be a brave highlander looking proudly into the camera. This special style of making photographs inspired me to make several photographs of various characters positioned in an old and cozy bedroom resembling the one my granddadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sister used to have in her house in the ancient Caspian city of Derbent â&#x20AC;&#x201C; an old Khazar border fortress that for

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TURA N centuries held back Persian armies. All male and female characters on the photographs look sternly into the camera. The way they hold their hands reminds of the typical gesture of ironclad medieval knights we can see on old canvases. The arrangement of the objects in the background and around, the sequence of the costumes and the stages of the character’s transforming from a real human to a pure symbol and a phantasm follow a subtle chronological line. I use the word Turan which is so popular with ideologist of Pan-Turkism. But I want to remind that the word was originally used by the ancient Persians to designate the vast and scarcely populated expanse to the north-east of Iran. First of all, I used this name because I felt it was important to introduce not only Caucasian visual elements but also Asian ones into the imagery of this photographic series. And why warriors? The warriors are creators and defenders of new social and political realities.

The warriors of Turan are the warriors of the vanished great Eurasian empires built by the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Khazars, Chengis Khan and Tamerlan – the people who attempted to unify the west, the east, the north and the south of the continent. Turan is a failed Eurasian empire, great culture that never flourished, the human’s unrealizable dream to build a perfect and power transcontinental state. It was very important to emphasize this point in my work.In fact my characters are a symbiosis of symbols that I use to create alternative reality. This work can only be perceived as a series since the systematic change of the characters indicate the distinction between the real and the symbolical.


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Khatuna Khabulian art critic, curator, the author of analytical articles and essays on contemporary visual art, editor of many catalogues and the contemporary art newspaper “arthuri”, producer of short film “eco talks”, a professor of history and theory of contemporary art and photography and a head of research department of the Tbilisi State Academy of Art

initiative of Marat Guelam could be evaluated as an attempt to define new ways of cooperation among the Post-Soviet art scenes. Itended up as the new exhibition project Neo Geo worked out in collaboration with maf – Media Art Farm presented at Art Moscow 2004. Marat Guelam, Zhenia Kikodze and Vato Tsereteli curated the show. The works of emerging artists Mamuka Samkharadze, Nino Sekhniashvili, Ira Kurmaeva, Nino Lomadze were presented along with the works of already established artists Koka Ramishvili, Iliko Zautashvili, Niko Lomashvili, Oleg Timchenko and Kote Sulaberidze. Iliko Zautashvili and Koka Ramishvili belong to the first generation of Georgian artists who engaged with working on the synthesis of Western conceptual art’s experience and the local context. This tendency was continued by Oleg Timchenko, Niko Lomashvili and Kote Sulaberidze working in conceptual painting, media art, minimalism and pop art. Koka Ramishvili investigates the subject of personal life shifting the focus of voyeurism. The series ‘Family Portraits / Good Morn-

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ing’ (2004) is less dramatic and displays domestic scenes and presents details of everyday routine – the part of torn furniture, prosaic eroticism, plain-looking design and cloth… The anti-glamour approach to anonymous reality carries ironical hints on the hidden sides of life. The series continues the basic line of Koka Ramishvili’s artwork – interaction between social systems, controversial values and a conditional sense of time and being. The motives of psychology and existential experience as well as the variations of their synthesis define the content of Iliko Zautashvili’s artworks, the visual manifestation of which are often seen as an independent aesthetic. The installation ‘Touch everything except my heart’ (2004) consists of 17 transparent shelves with lights above them and photographs put like a sandwich among the Plexiglas carriers forming a shelf. Criticism of consumerism has transformed into an agitated form of compassion. Beside pornographic images Iliko Zautashvili has used pictures of persons close to him. This is his way of sharing his sensuality with the anonymous personage ‘on sale’. Only one shelf, without photographic images, displays a plaster copy of a heart subscribed below with the quote: ‘Touch everything expect my heart… The artificial heart among the women in transparent cloths and provocative poses emphasizes the possible existence of a vulnerable border between fundamental values and up-to-date approaches. The subject of tolerance towards different religions in the epoch of globalization has become outdated as a subject of verbal ex1


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change. However it can take on a fresh and stimulating context for an artwork. Niko Lomashvili’s project ‘Defundamentalization’ (2003) investigates the possible limits of tolerance. In spite of Orthodoxy being the main confession in Georgia, a Synagogue, a Mosque and a Christian church are often located next to each other. The new social, political and economic advance is removing the boundaries between countries – while religions are keeping them closed. To what extent can form express essence and to what extent can the essence justify the form? The characters of ‘Defundamentalization’ are performing fragments of praying rituals. A Jew is praying as an Orthodox, a Muslim is praying as a Jew and a Christian – as a Muslim. The artwork by Niko Lomashvili displays the conventionality of rituals and underlines the possibility of a liberated approach to traditional religious manifestations. The traces of impressions from classical literature and culture acquired in childhood are obvious in almost every work of Oleg Timchenko. The images from literature acquire a new life through the structures of his visual installations, photos, canvases or video films. The irrational labyrinth of ornaments on the Persian carpet and motives of Arabian tales serve as inspiration for the video work named ‘The Persian Carpet’ (2004). The moving images employed by video signals are put into the ornamental drawing of an oriental carpet. Video fragments of vibrating erotic scenes combine with ornamental dynamics to create the effect of a flying mosaic. The absurd idea of flying, eroticism, meditation and a sense of eternity compose a model of a specifically Caucasian eclectic style and connects the Persian Carpet with other works by Oleg Timchenko, where the sites of Tbilisi are projected on to the surface of water. Konstantine Sulaberidze is a creator of conceptual paintings interpreting symbols of the region. He often refers to the topic of the icon’s transformation into the symbols of the Soviet system.

1 Neo Geo / Exposition site in The Central House of Artist / Moscow 2004 2

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‘Touch everything except my Heart‘ / 2004 / installation 250X800X30 / 16 photographs 30X40 on Plexiglas shelves

‘Touch everything except my Heart‘ / detail


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The material for his work ‘Kavkasioni’ (2000) has been gathered over years to take the form of a six meters long panoramic image. Narrative is one of the mediums used by Konstantine Sulaberidze. He puts a written explanation or instructions next to the visual images. The names of mountains, the climber’s path, tombs of perished alpinists, names of fantastic creatures from the mythology connected to these places create very exciting kinds of conceptual maps where the traditional landscape changes into a pictorial game with written names and explanations. The motivation of a new generation is as different today due to improved conditions of communication between western and local art scenes. As a result young artists are mostly occupied with experiments to define their own identities. The work of sculptor Mamuka Samkharadze “And so on” is a relief installation built up with nails. It is a geometric ornament that finds its development as a labyrinth on the wall. The thread drawn among the nails shows the trajectory of drawing’s expansion. The author connects his inspiration to his own psychedelic experience and explains the work as a transformation of the spiritual ‘journey’. The scheme of the relief comprises nine cells where the latter is twice as big as the former …. One nail creates the first cell, four nails – the second, twelve – the third, and so on… Additionally drawn connecting lines create a dynamic image. Nino Sekhniashvili was another artist in the Neo Geo collection representing the new generation. At first sight her work ‘Defloration’

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seems aggressive due to the directly physical presentation of physiology. However, introverted sensuality and insecurity form the main characteristics of the work. The series holds many shapes and themes such as drawing, xylography, canvas, object, injured body, vomiting, bloodshed, masturbation, and stuffed frogs that refer to aborted embryos. They appear generally as spontaneous fragments, though the same images sometimes construct strong academic compositions of ritual scenes. The images become extremely impressive and frank when researching the mystery of body and pain. The installation presented at Art Moscow was a New Year tree dressed up by hygiene pads and stuffed frogs. Sometimes, Sekhniashvili displays depersonalized figures lying down in meditation on a dark background. She often smashes the textual pieces written before. The word ‘defloration’ opens up through the various meanings from a simple biological act to the process of comprehension of transcendental knowledge. In her photo series ‘The Constitution of Plasticine City’ Ira Kurmaeva shows the plasticine personages and their life stories from their embryonic existence. The work is her response to her childhood memories. Shaping plasticine figures over 20 years Kurmaeva creates a whole world of characters with biographies. The work shows everyday scenes of the utopian city, love, raising children, fighting for principles, etc. The tiny world of marionette figures is entertaining, while still maintaining dramatic tension and expressiveness. The paintings of Nino Lomadze named ‘Untitled Series’ imitate records on body research, bones and the fragments of flesh with handwritten notes. She offers the visual evidence of the matter’s texture as if to discover not yet revealed qualities. Her work resembles the scientist’s diary where the images of body parts stay incomplete but, more importantly, as the bearers of encoded information and spiritual energy. The style of Nino Lomadze’s work can be defined as an irony on pseudo scientific pedantry. On the other hand she focuses on the scientific work’s visual aspect where the specific aesthetics are emphasized and in a sense ignored. Nino Lomadze is a very interesting and perhaps the only artist in Georgia working on the subject of conceptual art, seeking visual values in scientific documentation and records. In other words, she transforms formulas and anatomy lessons into images. It responds to the seminal work of Joseph Kosuth who covered the walls of the gallery with texts from Freud. In the work ‘Neo Geo Box’ a group of young designers and media artists ‘inf. Act Collective’ (Giorgi Zhorzholiani, Levan Nutsubidze, Gio Sumbadze, Gigi Guledani) produced consumer goods out of


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recycled material. Their work address ecological awareness and the development of a recycling culture in Georgia. The work forms a cube made out of various sorts of cardboards and glasses that are usually employed to display products like handbags, stickers, etc. The group aimed at the presentation of the possibility of observing the problems of ecology through the context of art, design or anti-design. The video film by Vato Tsereteli (he used a pseudonym ‘Far Light’) ‘Thank you’ presented at the exhibition develops the utopian concept of bestiality. It can even be viewed as instructions on bestiality. The action in the film takes place on the edge between essences of anima and animal. We see textual instruction, gun shots, the city bombed by excrements, the laying out of corpse in a morgue, a philosopher’s monologue and a politician’s speech… The work is based on a critique of humanism that oscillates between from the nature of survival impulses and the destruction of the living body. The artist refrains from defining any future development of these researches, taking into account complexity and the tradition of the phenomena. ‘Far Light’ considers that history demonstrates the illicit nature of bestiality, which is confirmed within underground or marginal frameworks. To act on behalf of bestiality demands special efforts with regard to its forbidden essence and can make us familiar with its successful forms created in the past.

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Nino Sekhniashvili / ‘Defloration’/ 2004 installation / detail

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Nino Lomadze / ‘Untitled series‘ / 2004 / mixed media on canvas

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Mamuka Samkharadze / ‘And so on...‘ / 2004 / wall installation

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Niko Lomashvili / ‘Defundamentalization‘ / 2003 / video installation

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www.garikula.org

Press Release Centre for Global Coordination of Culture and Art – CGCCA, Fund of Revival and Development of Shida Kartli Cultural Heritage, together with National Centre for Contemporary Arts - NCCA (Russia)

PRESENT

WIND FROM THE CAUCASUS PLACE Art-Villa “Garikula – Centre for the Arts” (Garikula Village, Kaspi Region, Central Georgia).

TIME November 5th, 2004 – November 15th (Monday), 2004. November 13-14 – Open Studios for visitors and guests.

PARTICIPANTS Niko Tsetskhladze (Georgia), Tamuna Ataneli (Georgia), Nina Kotiol (Russia), Oleg Timchenko (Georgia), Vladimir Salnikov (Russia), Murtaz Shvelidze (Georgia), Guy Archer (USA), Hans Hainer Boor (Germany), Yevgeni Nesterov (Russia), Natasha Vorcholak (Poland), Maia Burduli (Georgia), Iliko Zautashvili (Georgia). ‘Wind from the Caucasus’, the international artists workshop and symposium is a non-profit-making initiative that provides a creative arena for artists who are ambitious for their work and open to the challenges of an environment that demands experiment, co-operation and exchange. The workshop held in the residency centre ‘Art Villa Garikula’, removes artists geographically and conceptually from their usual studio practice and brings them together to work in a way that is mutually beneficial and contributing to a developing international dialogue. The title of the project has been inspired by the essay of Andrei Belii “Wind from the Caucasus” devoted to his journey to Georgia.

ORGANIZERS Curator - Magda Guruli – Centre for Global Coordination of Culture and Art – CGCCA. Project’s Director - Iliko Zautashvili – Centre for Global Coordination of Culture and Art – CGCCA. Director of the Art Villa Garikula - Karaman Kutateladze - The Fund of the Revival and Development of Shida Kartli Cultural Heritage. Leonid Bazhanov – Art Director of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts – NCCA (Russia).


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CHOOSING ART Natasha Vorcholak artist, curator, UK, Poland

Inspiration is nothing else but a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation. (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

artist is a rowdy, rambunctious and structure-challenging creature. It’s one’s choice to offer him assistance and support but no one is going to impose his lifestyle upon him. He is happy when left in control of his own actions, not in predicament of working under pressure of censorship or a 9-5 job. Often more capricious and uncommunicative than the best primadonna, he’s not a machine acting to a priori set patterns and it is only his Inspiration what gets him going. Inspiration though, be it the artist’s vitamin or his source of ideas, needs to be fostered. What actually is it and what are potential inspiring agents? What’s the artist’s drive and what are contriving ways of handling it? To start with, an artist’s experimental space is where he can perform and let his inspiration go. His wide-ranging blueprint for freedom of creation is to help him carve his artistic base out of the bare space and carry on with his work. Workshops, master classes and what-not group events are to foster, develop and stimulate ideas that emerge over long debates and divagations, be it a month lasting residency set usually in breathtaking scenery far and away from modern life distractions, a hands-on experience sharing in someone’s studio, or a sit-in debate over endless cups of coffee. Although very often opinion swapping is alcohol-linked, it does actually produce interesting results. It has to be said however that organization, time keep-

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ing and conformity to social custom are actually very often of no avail in the arts world, and the artist refuses point blank to adhere to certain rules and principles and often plays by ear. Only when immersed in the company of like-minded folk he feels born again. A common denominator for actions of the sort is that there is no pretence and no mental frontiers. How do actually strangers enjoy being with each other? A lot depends on cultural background, personality features etc. An old Irish saying that ‘there are no strangers, only friends that you haven’t met’ gives you the picture. Over big, noisy meals, be it an early breakfast as an extension of a stormy discussion the night before, or a fancy dinner (no dressing up though), artist residencies foster idea swapping and bridging good relationships between different personalities. We’re different but we’re together now, the idea of VSECHESTVO, which in loose translation stands for ‘togetherness’, sounds like a clarion, and experience is something that they try as much as possible to incorporate with their lifestyles. Good ideas are reportedly lacking elsewhere where the society opts for shortterm relationships with no emotional depth. Artist workshops are to remind people that the arts are more about solace, companionship and communion, hence the necessity of organizing them on a more regular basis. Artists, free thinkers and often

strangers to the society are at the same time longing for being a part of something and for a certain validation of their ideas. Of different backgrounds, they all gather together to pursue their ideas about what art is. Now there is the Romantisation of the artist who is within the law to choose his own ways and means, even if it threatens his own ‘bien-etre’ that including health, but at the same time he is not in the right to impose an intolerable degree of nuisance to others. Labeled a life guru by some, the artist must not ignore the society’s needs. It’s like being a cavalier about the artistic mission. Everyone has one’s own negative zone level and one’s comfort zone level and the whole idea of coming into existence as an artist is to let those two levels go hand in hand without causing disruption. On a less optimistic note, the arts world often comes down to the problem of sponsorship, circulation and funding, which results in ill competition or open hostility. It is a typical Catch 22 case: no funds, no workshops, no progress, no proof, no funds and it is like curbing the artist’s pursuit of pleasure and creation, and also a huge missed opportunity to the society. It’s like valuing process over product. In this sadly mercantile approach the idea that art is a means of either communicating ideas or ridiculing the world, and that workshops are about community arts and regeneration goes somehow forgotten.


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Hans Hainer Boor / ‘Attitude‘ / 2004 / oil on canvas

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Vladimir Salnikov / ‘Portrait of Guy Archer’ / 2004 / pencil on paper

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Iliko Zautashvili / ‘Double Bottom‘ / ‘Double Bottom’ / 2004 / video projection / 5’45” /loop/ Nina Kotiol / ‘From Georgia with Love‘ / detail /2004 / x media on paper / 4 pieces A2 each

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WIND FROM THE CAUCASUS,2004

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The end which ever begins again... 4

Photos by Tamuna Ataneli Iliko Zautashvili Magda Guruli Vladimir Salnikov Hans Hainer Boor Natasha Vorcholak


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Atmosphere 410

‘…One fine day, on Roustaveli Prospect, in the courtyard #12, a group of poets and artists inaugurated ‘The Fantastic Hash House’. The walls of the main room were decorated with phantasmagoria. ‘The Hush House’ was open every evening, and poets and artists came to recite their work and organize conferences. Not far from there, still on Roustaveli Prospect, in one of the cellars an American bar was set up, called ‘The Argonauts’ Boat’, a place where futurist verses and sketches were all the rage. At this period, cocaine was in great demand in Tiflis (Tbilisi). The ‘ringleaders’ of this galaxy of artists were Lado Gudiashvili and Kiril Zdanevich who, with the help of Ilia Zdanevich, painted the plaster walls of the Hash House. It was also here that the symbolist of the “Blue Horns” and the Journal ‘Ars’ railed against the futurists. At the beginning of 1918, the ‘Futurists’ Union’ and the ‘Futurvseoutshbishtshe’ group were founded. At the ‘Imedi’ restaurant, conferences were held and manifestoes drawn up: ‘On Italian futurism’, ‘Theatre in a Dead-and’, ‘Stupid Art Cinematographers’, ‘On Marinetti’, ‘On Aerial Restaurants in Yamoudia’, new eroticism and poetry’. Grigol Robakidze, ‘Phelestra’ (magazine of Georgian literature, issue 4, 1928)

Magda Guruli Curator of the National Art Centre and cgcca / Georgia, editor of the loop’A art magazine, member of the editorial board of the CORD art magazine. Curator of the exhibition ‘Atmosphere 41 Degree‘.

the beginning of the 20th century on the background of crucial historical changes the Georgian writer Grigol Robakidze wrote ‘Everything around us was collapsing, Tiflis (Tbilisi) was the only city remaining to welcome this destruction with a poetic song… ‘. ‘41 degree’ – is the parallel on which Tbilisi, Istanbul, New York, Barcelona, Rome, Saragossa, etc are located. In Tiflis in 1918 Terentyev, Kruchionnikh and Iliazd established the ‘University 41 Degree, the New Poetic School’. The ‘41 Degree’ as a cultural institution connected and represented the progressive and innovative tendencies of European and Caucasian art spaces that considerably affected the formation of Georgian modernism. Despite the extreme situation in the Caucasus, the world is only familiar with a handful of mixed problems that exist in this border region, which in its quest of self-determination has come to lie on the cusp between East and West. A huge number of nations, ethnic groups, religious confessions and communities have coexisted here. However, the events of the Caucasus are usually assessed on the bases of clichés and projections elaborated in different contexts, on the base of apparently similar situations. Contemporary art in Georgia is one of the interesting phenomena of today’s Caucasus. It has appeared and developed in the midst of events in a multi-ethnic and multicultural context. Against the background of sociopolitical and cultural processes in the West, contemporary art in Georgia, while never breaking the link with Western sources, is characterized by specific traits, both in ideological and aesthetical terms. In this context there emerge different interpretations between on the one hand the criteria formed in a Western context and on the other the specificities of the Caucasus character.

IN

The events that have taken place in Eurasia over the last two centuries have proved to be rich and stimulating, even contradictory, all of which has led to the formation of the mentality and aesthetics of Georgian art. The repressiveness and narrow-mindedness of Soviet ideology ensured that the progressive parts of Georgian society would look to Western values. Europe-Georgian and Russian-Georgian relations have centuriesold history. Unfortunately at present relationships between Georgia and Russia are saddened by the set of misunderstandings that has negatively reflected on intercultural dialogue. Art, as a universal means is capable to influence the restoration of broken off cultural communications. Art may challenge both political and economic settlement as it enables to do more then just survival. It enables to survive as Homo Morales. No Randomly, on behalf of the National art Centre Tbilisi responded to the initiative of the Moscow National Centre for Contemporary Arts to present one of the fragments of today’s Tbilisi art scene through the exhibition ‘Atmosphere 41 Degree’, a multi-conceptual project featuring Georgian artists working in the field of multimedia art. The exhibition was held in Moscow in May 13-28, 2006. In September 2006 the ‘Atmosphere 41 Degree’ traveled to Die (France). The Siemens Gallery of Istanbul is to host the exhibition during September 5 - October 20, 2007. Today cultural processes undergo activation in Georgia. Tbilisi, traditional cultural centre of the Caucasus, finds out the brightest and versatile aspects of new tendencies, which make us to believe that radical changes and re-estimation are at hand.


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Organizers of the project ‘Atmosphere 41 Degree‘: Karaman Kutateladze, Iliko Zautashvili, Vitali Patsiukov, Natalia Zolotova, Leonid Bazhanov, Magda Guruli, Archil Turmanidze, artist and designer of the exhibition in front of his video Installation ‘Benefits of Weightlessness‘

BACK TO Vitali Patsiukov

THE PRESENT

Art Historian, art critic, curator of the Moscow National Centre for Contemporary Arts

vital tradition of Georgia’s radical culture is clearly evident in the exhibition project ‘Atmosphere 410’. The spatial feeling and the original chrono-topical statement of the project connect it with the time and topography of the place. The 41st parallel, the very parallel, on which Tbilisi is settled, defines its figurativeness. The concept ’41 degree’ is universal, like the formula of ‘The Black Square’ by Kazimir Malevich. It is the maximum body temperature that the human can endure, and it is the parallel on which New York, Rome, Barcelona, and Constantinople rest – the axial phenomenon on which the complete European culture gathers. Viewing the ‘fantastic city’ (as the famous Georgian avant-garde poet and writer G. Robakidze has named Tbilisi) within a special historical perspective, we unlock past contacts. In this context, the renowned 1917 ‘Fantastic Hush House’ of Tiflis art bohemia meets with the 2006 National Art Centre of Georgia in which ‘Atmosphere 410’ was born. The existence of a place always lives with paradoxes and creates its own mythology. It transforms the local into the infinite of the center, maintaining the sole absolute – the curvature of the earth. The straight line divides, while the curve connects – such is the commentary of dialogue-oriented and wavy contemporary art upon exiting modernism. It moves through the ancient streets of Tbilisi, in evening sounds and in the rustle of laurel trees, gaining in strength and height, converting into special phenomena and charming appeal. Its construction relates to the three-dimensional nature of the cell and the modular dimensions of universes in which birds are capable of living. This forces us to recollect Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. Its senses flicker as a surface of parchment, keeping traditional values and actualizing the newest art consciousness in its latent layers. The sacred texts of Tiflisian futurism come back in the strategy of ‘Atmosphere 410’, pulsating in the reflections of computer screens, forming the magic ‘inner area’ of Noah’s Ark, the boat of life floating in the spaces of the Caucasus.

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Oleg Timchenko / ‘Bucephalus’ / 2006, photo installation / 90X200 cm

2 Sophia Cherkezishvili / ‘The Most Beautiful Dress‘ / 2005 / video DV / 1’6” 3 Temur Javakhishvili/ ‘The dream of Russian Politician’ / 2004 / object / beach-slippers decorated by the map of Georgia / 43X27X12 cm 4

Iliko Zautashvili‘It was all a Dream‘ / 2003-2006 / video installation / text / 12 pillows with serigraphy / 3 flat-screen monitors

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GEORGIA AT VENICE Nino Tchogoshvili

/ art critic, curator

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poster of georgian pavilion

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Eteri Chkadua, artist

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Sophia Tabatadze, artist

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Georgian pavilion at the 52nd International Art Exhibition in Venice presents projects and works that seem largely different from one another. It is not only artistic taste and world outlook that distinguish the featured artists, but also a range of modern and traditional means and media they use in their works. The art of Georgia has always been remarkable for its diversity and originality. Rooted in local traditions, Georgian art has also benefited at different times from foreign styles and movements. Contemporary Georgian art is trying to establish itself on the world map of art. The Georgian artistic community has certainly become much more ‘open’ than it was in previous decades. Contemporary art is being built on an analysis of the past, a revision of values and a search for and adoption of new forms and media, with frequent instances of imitation, along with the desire to maintain local values, traditions and aesthetics. Contemporary artists respond differently to the social, political and cultural processes unfolding in their country. The works presented at the exhibition only partly reflect the creative processes taking place in contemporary Georgian art. The RE-TURN project by Tamara Kvesitadze, with artists Paata Sanaia and Zura Gugulashvili, consists of one installation and several mechanical figures. The materials used are fiberglass, metal and mechanisms. The mechanical figures represent the process of transformation in movement, which is reflected in their surroundings. The concept of the work is based on the correlation between the mechanical and organic. ‘Mechanical vs. Organic. Organic nature of the mechanical - orderliness of the organic mechanical nature of the orderliness’. Eteri Chkadua has been living in the USA since 1980, when she

THE

ORGANISER: Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport of Georgia www.georgianseason.ge CO-ORGANISER: Arte Communications - www.artecommunications.com COMMISSIONERS: Manana Muskhelishvili, Zviad Mchedlishvili Vice commissioner: Paolo De Grandis CURATOR: Nino Tchogoshvili CO-CURATOR: Tamara Lordkipanidze ARTISTS: Tamara Kvesitadze with Paata Sanaia and Zura Gugulashvili, Eteri Chkadua, Sophia Tabatadze

Tamara Kvesitadze, artist, Giorgi Gabashvili, the minister of Culture and Sport of Georgia

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Nino Tchogoshvili, the curator of Georgian pavilion

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left Georgia. The artist remains faithful to traditional artistic media, painting her medium-sizes and large figures on canvas with brush and paints in a manner that largely relies on the experience of a generation of earlier artists and was taught to her at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. Eteri Chkadua creates a hybrid of New York, Jamaican, Miami and Georgian impressions. She portrays a woman’s world as seen by a woman – a multi-layered form with a polished surface beyond which one can read impulsiveness almost bordering the primitive state. Hallucinatory perception echoes her emotions and impulses. ‘My image of a woman is simultaneously characterized by ethnic, pop-art, tourism- and emigrant-related elements. It has become universal as I have made geography and time vanished’. Sophia Tabatadze portrays the state of a human being with architectural forms. Her interpretation of architecture goes beyond the primary meaning of the word. In her project entitled Humancon Undercon, Tabatadze shows human traces in an urban environment that has become thoroughly inhuman. To underline this imbalance, she emphasizes certain details, leaving others uncompleted. She aims to show our inability to perceive things in their totality – a totality that includes space and time. ‘My work draws on the urban environment and the things that happen in it. In order to bring these happenings close to myself I process them through my own body by physically making work about it. By doing so I try to accept my surroundings at a time when their aesthetics and directions do not match with mine!’

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6 Tamar Kvesitadze / ‘Last Supper‘, 2007, installation 7 Eteri Chkadua / ‘Tourist‘ / 2004 / oil on linen / 111,8X121,9 cm, Gian Enzo Sperone collection New York 8

Tamar Kvesitadze / ‘Man and Woman‘ / 2007 / mechanical figures


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PEA -MUSHA

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Keti Japaridze art Critic, lives and works in London

THE CITY AND THE PRACTICE OF ART: Mamuka Japharidze, a visiting artist in London, initiated and hosted this site-specific event. It took place in a disused pub near Old Street, the Green Man (161 Whitecross Street), which was loaned to him and his friends as a place to stay and work. He tried to address and to deploy the performative instances around the East London artists’ scene : the intrinsic desires and aspirations and their psychogeographical expressions: the ever-increasing number of artist-run initiatives, squats and other sanctioned and non-sanctioned happenings, an expanded art practice in which ‘life is also the work in progress’ (Dr Simon O’Sullivan). He was the accelerator of the event, and he had fantastic support and assistance from London-based musicians and artists, especially from Kristian Craig Robinson and Andro Semeiko. DRUM STREET 11 The event grew out of some London squats, one being No 11 Drum Street, (2006-2007) just opposite the Whitechapel Art Gallery, where Mamuka stayed as a guest halfway through this period. Inspired by the creative atmosphere and creative left-overs from that environment he decided to organise a post- production event to recreate the initial aspirations and also the deprivations of that place. Theo Mukhiguli was his main focal point. Theo, who had just graduated from Saint Martin’s College, was the initiator of this squat, and very much the insider, who opened the space and invited his friends into it. He kept to a very local area, rarely venturing beyond it. His artworks, his paintings, are the ‘stolen’ images from the houses he squatted in, which he loved and portrayed. Images and still-lifes of his lived fragments, things he came across: found or acquired. Mamuka proposed The Green Man as a good temporary resting place for them. The actual event turned out to be a very lively artistic gathering. A big screen was set up for the artists to show their video works on. In the middle of this ambience Sefa Steer, harpist and singer, gave a voice to the happening. There was a striking juxtaposition between the lyrical music of the harp and her voice and the wry, ironic, sometimes bitter, words of her songs. DEMONTAGE: VIDEO-DOCUMENTARY BY RAHESH THIND The artist Tomoko Takahashi had the use of a studio which also served, at the time, as her family home. Her partner Sebastian was apprehensive of a visit from a local council inspector, and so asked Mamuka to help him with this. A video film screened in the Green

Man showed Sebastian’s and Mamuka’s action of deconstructing the interior space, transforming a home into a studio, a demontage. This documentary reflects the ambivalence of home/studio, life/work in the experience of an artist. It shows a distortion, how one place can presented/mispresented at the same time However, in the video the two main characters, Tomoko and the inspector, are absent, while the work of transformation appears to be joyful, like a game. The video does not explain the action, it just documents something happening without the two people who would give another, non-ludic, meaning to it. SIMON STREATHER Tell me something about yourself. What about your art? What do you think about this place? Could you explain your notions of the centre or periphery? Maybe you will talk about gravity? Those were the sorts of questions he started to impose on his companions after he found himself waking up in the morning on the pub floor, after being the witness of many deterritorializing talks and interactions which took the speakers beyond their physical surroundings in the pub: monologues, dialogues, arguments and discussions. When instead of doing some work (artwork), every evening he came, was involved in and evolved in different forms of socialising. He made people respond, and he made a film out of all this: closeup portraits of the place and the people in it, of the talk, confused expressions, strong accents… Looking and listening to the film afterwards you realise that the ideas expressed by the speakers don’t have any referential, external or ready-made meanings, except the purpose of the communication in itself and of the utterances through that communication. SNEH MEHTA / CLARISSA BUNUEL After visiting the place and noticing, in passing, some signs of admiration for Luis Bunuel, Sneh Mehta was very quick to realise that a good idea for an entering into the event would be to introduce Bunuel’s granddaughter to people at the opening. And she was right. Just the simple fact of the introduction appeared as both conventional formality and simultaneously disruptive, diverting attention, as much as anything else on display or projected. UPSIDE-DOWN CHAIRS Chairs knocked-over and upside-down – also found objects, cleaned and embellished, with human bottoms painted on their bottoms by the London-based artist Andro Semeiko. This was a collaboration piece between Mamuka and him which they accomplished while the putting together the show. The work was quite bawdy and provocative, showing a Dadaistic disregard for commonsense culture, touching on issues of sexuality and consumerism. The artists took photos on them and the viewers were invited to do the same. There was a human-object interaction, in which the wooden legs of the chairs became the human legs attached to the bottoms. The event was of the moment, but the intention is that the chairs, the central objects here, will remain on site, awaiting an unexpected encounter with whoever comes to turn them over. The event started as an exhibition, but seamlessly turned into a social event, reflecting the influence of the pub environment, just as the bottoms on the chairs reflected the English tradition of ‘mooning’, showing one’s bottom to the world to make a point. WHY PEA-MUSHA? Mushy peas are an expected accompaniment to a pub meal. Their green colour chimes with the name of the pub. In Georgian musha means a labourer, and a p/penny musha suggests a worker who is paid peanuts. The Georgian outsider-artist Niko Pirosmani painted workers relaxing in pubs. Another connotation is the Georgian dish pelamushi, a mixture of wine and flour. This combination of syllables could also be nonsense, of course. And why not?


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Theo Mukhiguli in a disused ‘Green Man’ pub near Old Street / London. ‘Green Man’ pub during the event

Sneh Mehta, Rahesh Thind, Mamuka Japharidze and Andro Semeiko Gallerist Man Somerlinck / Fordham Gallery/ and Tomoko Takahashi Clarissa Bunuel in ‘Green Man‘ pub

Mamuka Japharidze, Andro Semeiko, ‘Upside-Down‘, 2006 / object Mamuka Japharidze / ‘Pea Musha‘ / 2006 / acrylic on canvas / 70X60 cm

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NINE DRAGON HEADS makes an attempt and stimulation to leave better heritage in the future from the environmental and spiritual viewpoint. Human beings have repeated development with enormous domination and control about environment. There is no doubt that human beings are superior in every respect. Thinking back to the past history, many species on the earth were exterminated because for some reason the friendly environment which helped their birth changed into hostile attitude. While mankind, the first species that had the ability of operating on surroundings, have got out of innumerable change of nature to some degree. But human has regarded the nature as the target of challenge and conquest, that is to say, as the subject of testing mankind’s ability in the process of transforming and possessing the nature. Ultimately if we are asked a question when the mankind will disappear, we may answer “the day will not be far distant”. No matter how peculiar men may be, we must deeply realize that men are also product of appropriate environment and the part of huge nature. Can men leas a life with understanding and respect about the world nature? Can men maintain a life peacefully and fairly for the long survival of mankind? What decide this future of human is the mutual relation between human and human, human and circum-

stances. NINE DRAGON HEADS changes close-minded “I” into open-minded “I” and urges to reconsider equilibrium relation between human and environment through the art holding in common human’s infinite imagination, experience and ideas. NINE DRAGON HEADS joins various cultures and unfolds international composite art. We hope to have in common community consciousness and impulsion of the cooperation existed deeply in human’s heart through these various forms. Human beings who have single species of Homo sapiens have developed wide and diverse culture. We understand that the diverse difference of culture is the specialty of culture itself, not comparison or superiority. Furthermore NINE DRAGON HEADS will progress on the very spot where the fossil skeletons of Homo sapiens were discovered, where our ancestor enjoyed working, singing and dancing with spiritual bonds. Besides, this place is ecological changed and destroyed of environment where caused every years under the name of development and civilization. NINE DRAGON HEADS expects to have a new understanding of human nature and world through the art as long as men. We anticipate that we can leave healthier environment-the heritage of future-to posterity through the curable function of art.


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Iliko Zautashvili Artist, art historian, independent curator, art director of National Art Centre, Editor in Chief of loopâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;A contemporary art magazine participant of the est-ouest Festival in Die 2006.

Every year Die, a beautiful city in the South of France, turns into an international crossroads where significant projects are planned and important issues are solved. Last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Die was totally Caucasian: the multinational, multilingual Caucasus was presented in the light of future as the pluralistic, original, and contemporary gates between Europe and Asia. The most significant feature of the events in Die is that people of different professions and social status can carry on a dialogue and discussion on the issues shaping our general future. Today any kind of human activity is interdisciplinary. An autonomous, narrowly-oriented activity is not able to solve the social, political, economic and humanitarian problems of the 21st century. Here in Die behind a cup of coffee or a glass of wine we try to cast a glance at the future. However, both past and future proceed in the unlimited present. Tbilisi-Die 2007


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I l i k o Z a u t a s h v i l i , ' Wa l k i n g t h r o u g h Wa l l ' , 2002, screenprint, 52X36 cm


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Shota Iatashvili Poet, prosaic, translator and art critic, an author of eight poetic and three story-collections, is published since the 1990. He is a director and an actor of the Tbilisi Performance Theatre in 1994-1995. He is regularly published in Georgian magazines and newspapers since 1996. A chief editor of the ‘Caucasian House’ Publishing House and the literary magazine - ‘Alternativa’. He participated in different international and local festivals, among them the Festival of Modern Georgian Art in Moscow – ‘Artgruz’ in 2000, ‘Ugart’ Festival (Baku, Azerbaijan) - 2005, Festival ‘Orient-Occident’ (Courte de Arges, Romania) - 2006, Festival Est-Ouest (Die, France) – 2006, Poetry International (Rotterdam, Netherlands), etc. His poems were translated into English, German, France, Dutch, Russian, Romanian, Albanian, Azerbaijani and Armenian languages.

THE AVIATOR He flew off and turned out to be right: They praised him, blessed him, bent his neck down. He flew off again, and again turned out to be right: They gave him a reception and didn’t grudge him bread, water and A comb for his wing and plumage. He flew off a third time and this time, too, he turned out to be right: They put up with him, tolerated him. He flew off a fourth time and turned out to be in the wrong: They called him a silly plagiarizer of an angel. But he still flew off a fifth time — They fired at him, They killed him. Translation by Donald Rayfield

Он полетел первый раз и – Удачно – Восславили, преклонились, благословили. Во второй раз полетел он и – Снова удачно– Приняли, не пожалели воды и хлеба, Дали расческу для крыльев. В третий раз полетел он и – Тоже неплохо – Смирились, привыкли. Он в четвертый раз полетел, но – Напрасно – Нарекли дурным подражателем ангела. Но и в пятый раз – все равно – полетел он и – Выстрелили, Сбили.

перевод Анны Золотаревой

Drawings by Shota Iatashvili

ЛЕТЧИК


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ДЕНЬГИ

MONEY

Денежки мои красивые,

My money is beautiful. Like having a flower, a tree, the sky, ‘Gioconda’ These are beautiful things, But my money is beautiful, too. It lies in my pocket and I can touch it — It’s little and much loved. It’s so enchanting without being coy, I can show it to you again and again, And I can fix it to my buttonhole like a tulip.

Как и роза, небо, дерево. Мона Лиза – Не кобыла сивая. Но и денежки мои красивые. Я в кармане вас пощупаю, Малышей моих расписанных, Показать кому надумаю – Вдену как тюльпан в петлицу их. Ох вы, деньги, мои, денежки... Вы цветное представление

My money, My money…

С полунищей декорацией, Шкуры пустоты сверкание. Обернусь парчой купюровой, И войду я в мир, где дерево, Роза, небо с Моной Лизою... Вот уже Вхожу. Мне билет, и вам билет –

This is a colourful performance, This is a poor decoration, This the shiny skin of non-existence. I will wave it and enter into existence, where there is a flower, a tree, the sky, ‘Gioconda’. I shall enter. I shall enter.

Приглашаю. О, как может быть красива жизнь,

A ticket for me, And a ticket for you — be my guest.

Если ты на гребне красивой денежной волны. Старею. Старею. Старею. Все чаще о том размышляю, Не выставить ли мои деньги В музей, под стекло – и навечно.

You know, life is beautiful, If you attain it with beautiful money. When I become an old man, I think I shall give my beautiful money To the museum of life As a permanent exhibit.

Пусть люди придут, насладятся Красавцев-банкнот лицезреньем.

People will come and enjoy Looking at my beautiful money.

В волнении будут стоять они долго, Потом по домам разойдутся в раздумьях: Какая удача – Красивая жизнь, Красивый дом, Красивый стих... Они подумают –

They will stand there for a long time, excited, Then they will go home and think about it, What’s good about it, When you have a beautiful life, A beautiful house, A beautiful poem.

Как беременная супруга твоя...

They will think about it, What’s good about it, When your money is as beautiful As your pregnant wife.

перевод Владимира Саришвили

translation by Donald Rayfield

Какая удача, Когда деньги твои так же красивы,


c o r d / # 0 / 2 0 0 7 / 120

Guram Tsibakhashvili artist, photographer lives and works in Tbilisi/Georgia

guram tsibakhashvili the residence artist from georgia in die drome/france/2007

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Private museumâ&#x20AC;? /2006/75X50cm

CORD  

This revue is collaborative effort between Actual Art, Yerevan; Loop-A, Tbilisi; Centre for Contemporary Culture (CCC), Baku; and Art Today,...

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