Multimedia Project Heritage

Heritage at Rich Mix

Rich Mix saw the opening of exhibition Heritage, brought to London as a result of collaboration between cARTveli foundation, Dash Arts and Rich Mix. The multimedia project initiated by Levan Mindiashvili unites long-term friends, fellow Georgian artists- Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Irakli Bugiani, Uta Bekaia and Christian Tonhaiser, from Argentina to research historical, social and cultural constructions that come to be integral parts of the informational baggage that burdens and shapes each individual.

Georgia, after 20 + years of independence is in active process of redefining its identity and rethinking its value system, however, the discourse consciously ignores the very recent past of the country. Having obtained enough distance from his homeland after moving to New York, Mindiashvili realised this paradox and decided to embark on the journey to investigate the notion of Past and its role in shaping an individual. Resulting multimedia project Heritage attempts to raise awareness around the vitality of self-reflection as the only way of progressing. Inaugurated in 2013 at the Georgian National Museum, the project intends to have an on-going nature and each new exhibition will present artists’ further exploration into the topic. The exhibition at Rich Mix is a second volume of the project.

Irakli Bugiani, Untitled, 2013-2014

Irakli Bugiani's uninhabited landscapes of high-rise building blocks  remind of Soviet postcards that were printed to celebrate 'prosperous' life while building Communism. These buildings are produced as collective images of countless apartment blocks, city halls and town theatres that still stand across Georgia, but are in appalling conditions. The artist seems to be reminiscing about the glory of their previous lives, when they were the emblems of Soviet prosperity. Bugiani’s canvases are imbued with the nostalgia that many in Post Soviet countries feel- a longing for careless past, a sentiment caused by the hardship of living in transitional countries; too often Soviet life is idealised and evils of that system are consigned to oblivion. 

These paintings tie into the artist’s general interest in soviet architecture. Bugiani is extensively researching the relationship between built environments and its influences on shaping the consciousness of people inhabiting those spaces.

Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Born In, 2014

Tato Akhalkatsishvili in his Born In series focuses on the feeling of entrapment that is common in his generation born at the decline of Soviet Union and grown up after its dissemination. His oil canvases are dominated by impenetrable and inescapable darkness, accentuated by intruding light- untroubled blue sky with pristine clouds or shadows of pine trees indicating on brightly lit environments somewhere outside the standpoint. The canvases position the viewer at the bottom of concrete hole; the sensation is so well portrayed it leaves one desperate for air. Akhalkatsishvili picks up on the common belief of his coeval Georgians that happiness exists somewhere, but too far away and the chances of reaching out to that spotlight are slim to none.

Uta Bekaia, Fuasia Tatasia, 2014

Uta Bekaia approaches the concept of heritage as an accumulation of human experiences that is passed on to generations biologically, mentally and physically. For this exhibition he revives the ancient Mingrelian (province in Georgia) spell Fuasia Tatasia that his grandmother used to perform to dispel evil spirits and cure little Uta from toothache. With this installation Bekaia evokes warmest sentiments from his childhood and juxtaposes them with folk myths and legends to produce a memorial to those experience that turn into dearest recollections through time and that come to define the very best in each person.

Cristian Tonhaiser, Untitled, 2014

Cristian Tonhaiser also contemplates on family ties and the experiences that are passed on as part of family relics. Inspired by Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik, Tonhaiser re-enacts the aesthetics of family album- photographs of pinnacle events from the life of a certain family ends the exposition on a highly personal note.

Levan Mindiashvili, Archives, 2014

Levan Mindiashvili continues collecting the visual representation of the objects that surrounded him during his childhood and have strong personal resonances for the artist, but at the same trigger similar tender associations in Georgian audience of his age. He rethinks the ways of displaying these objects and on this exhibition they are presented in small light boxes, stuck on blackboards. The items are placed on heaves of folded paper, personifying the life stories of thousands to comment on the communal nature of these experiences. The artist's generation had to witness such traumatic events as the Civil War, Abkhazian Conflict when growing up. The redness of the showcased objects seems to resonate the bloodshed that Mindiashvili's teenage years were drenched in.

The opening of the exhibition was accompanied by a screening of Zahesi 708, Tamuna Karumidze’s dimploma piece for her Audio/Video Media Design course. The film captures a week in Tbilisi in 1990s- life on the streets, house parties, fashion shows, and random conversations with friends, family. Plotless documentary footage, vibrating with the feeling of purposelessness, draws a portrait of Tbilisi- sentimental, and annoying, charming and infuriating, absurd and content. (the link to the movie)

The project was brought to Rich Mix with the support of Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, TBC Bank, ARDI Insurance and NES Gallery. 

Tato Akhalkatishvili Born in Tbilisi in 1979, where he currently lives and produces his art. After graduating from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 2003 he started exhibiting his works on international art fairs, solo and group exhibitions and projects in the United States, Japan, Europe and Georgia. He is the winner of several national and international art prizes, among them are two 1st Prizes at the International art Fairs in 2005 and 2007 (Both Germany together with the "Figurative Art Studio") and the 3rd Prize for the best painting at The Winter Salon of The National Gallery of Georgia. His works are kept in private collections worldwide.

Uta Bekaia A New York based multimedia artist and designer, born in Tbilisi in 1974. He graduated from Mtsire Akademia as industrial designer and debuted as artist at Tbilisi Avant-Garde Fashion Assembly (AMA) in 1998 with his first art/fashion collection. Since 1998 he has lived and worked in New York City. Uta has worked on numerous theater and movie projects as art director and costume designer. He creates wearable sculptures for performances and multimedia installations. Bekaia has participated in art fairs and fashion weeks in New York (US), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Toronto (Canada), Paris (France), Maastricht (Holland), Brighton (UK) and Berlin (Germany). His creations have been reviewed in publications including The Village Voice, Time Out New York and The Wall Street Journal.

Irakli Bugiani Born in Tbilisi in 1980. In 1998 / 2001 he studied at Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. In 2001 he moved to Germany to study at The State Academy of Fine Arts of Karlsruhe (Graduated in 2006). He obtained a master degree in Art History at Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf (2010), where he currently resides. He has held five solo shows in Germany and Croatia. Among his awards are the Portrait Prize of Freiburg University (Germany), Artist Stipend of the City of Dusseldorf (Germany), Residency at AZ Gallery, Zagreb (Croatia) and Kunstpreis Junger Westen, Kunsthalle Recklinghausen (Germany).

Tamuna Karumidze is a multimedia artist, born in Tbilisi in 1975 where she currently lives and works. She had obtained a Master Degree of Audio/Video media Design at The University of Arts of Berlin (Germany) in 2008. Her main field is a video / underground cinema which she explores to create installations and environments. Her works have been screened at various International Film Festivals, Art Forums and Exhibitions in Germany, Georgia, Netherlands, Austria, France and Switzerland. Besides her personal projects, she had worked as an assistant director at various movies, such as ‘Chantrapas” of Otar Ioseliani, ‘Game” of Nika Machaidze, ‘Triger Tiger’ of Salome Machaidze, etc.

Levan Mindiashvili is a multimedia artist and independent curator, born in Tbilisi in 1979. He currently lives between New York (US) and Buenos Aires (Argentina). After graduating from Tbilisi Sate Academy of Art in 2003, he started exhibiting his works and participating in various art events/art fairs throughout Europe, Latin America, United States and Georgia. In 2010 he obtained MA degree in Cross Media Arts at Buenos Aires National University of Arts (IUNA). During 2009-2012 he worked as a curator at Laguanacazul Art Gallery (Buenos Aires), organizing art projects involving local and foreign artists. During the same period he performed at the experimental theater company Ensamble Caustico (Buenos Aires). Among his awards are FABLES Commission Grant for Public Art Project, New York City (US, 2014), Movistar Emerging Artist of 2011 (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and the 3rd Prize for Drawing at the Salon Museo Metropolitano (Buenos Aires, 2010).

Cristian Tonhaiser A Photographer and video artist born in Buenos Aires in 1966. He studied graphic design at the National University of Buenos Aires where later on he was teaching for two years. His debut as a photographer at the 1st Biennale of Young Art was awarded with the First Prize. He exhibits his works extensively in Argentina, US, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Canada and Georgia. In 2010 and 2011 he was commissioned video art pieces for the curator's Carte Blanche screenings at The Festival of Photography and Video Art (AVIFF) in Cannes (France).



In December Women’s Fund and art organisation Geoair have held an exhibition Unlimited Possibilities. The tandem of the two organisations might be surprising for the people who do not know the Geoair well enough. A team of enthusiasts aim at tackling the social problems with the help of art. Their 10 years old biography is full of exciting projects directed at awakening the Georgian society. Hence, the very last one was not an exclusion. The Women’s Fund had found several women with different disabilities willing to get qualification and start a career. The exposition put together by the Geoair team was composed of artists who agreed to donate their work for such an important cause. This act of charity is particularly important, as the raised money won’t be a singular help, rather a means of putting these women back into the reality of the country. Moreover, it acts as a great precedent for other people who thought they were destined for a lifetime in the dark of their apartments. Unfortunately, this is the grim reality of Georgian life for people with disabilities in there. As Nino Chubinishvili, one of the participating artists has cleverly noted, the society that shuts these people is disabled and dysfunctional rather than these people.

Juna Godishvili, 31

Juna wants to advance her knowledge of English and then tutor the elementary school children. She has completed the accounting and computer courses and has an experience of working in various NGOs, even though having a Marfan syndrome.

                                      Marina Gogoberishvili,46

Marina Gogoberishvili has been in a wheelchair for some time already; she has met her husband (also in a wheelchair) in the rehabilitation centre. They have a daughter together. Already in a wheelchair, Marina entered the faculty of physics and mathematics in the university and later transferred to the faculty of fine arts. Last year she participated in the beauty contest where a girl in the wheelchair made her hair and make up.

Levan Mindiashvili

Nana Samushia is 26 and she is the member of “Woman and Reality”. By profession she is a designer. Nana is diagnosed with the total monoplegia of the upper right limb. Nana sews, embroiders, knits, paints. Ana Zakhvatova and Natela Gamidova  are also members of “Woman and Reality” and are among those people who wish to learn Knitting, embroidery and sewing. Ana has the left lower limb poliomyelitis and Natela has the spine trauma.
These women are heroes that despite the indifference and negligence on behalf of society do not lose the optimism and still manage to look forward to future.
Geoair has contacted the artists they cooperate with and find interesting; some of them are quite well known and widely admired  (Yuri Mechitov, Karaman Kutateladze, Mamuka Japaridze)

Lado Pochkhua

Murtaz Shvelidze

Lado Pochkhua and Murtaz Shvelidze have donated art from their recent exhibitions.Others, like Luka Akimidze are the newcomers to the field. The project has its website where the story of these women as well as the catalogue for the art is available. It is also possible to purchase the art online, which for Georgia is yet another innovatory idea. The art enthusiasts are given a chance to buy some amazing art for quite reasonable prices and also feeling their social responsibility fulfilled. The sale will go on for a month.

Moreover, it is a great innovation for the Georgian art market to have an opportunity to shop online for art. I sincerely hope any of the local galleries adopts the idea and starts selling online. 
Some of the art from the catalogue:

Nino Sekhniashvili

Kote Sulaberidze

Mariam Sitchinava

Kote Jincharadze

Nino Chubinishvili (Chubika)



My Effort to Follow the Footprints



Elene Rakviashvili’s performance commissioned by cARTveli Foundation was brought to London, first showing at the Georgian Christmas Fair and then at the White Cube, Mayfair.

Elene Rakviashvili, trained painter, works on performances, video art, photography, installation and public art. Based in Georgia, the focus of her art is the society and themes having a particular significance locally. Georgia is inexhaustible source of inspiration for the artist and according to her the environment is so complex, diverse and exciting she would never move to other countries. Elene has a very peculiar attitude towards life seeing all the obstacles and disadvantages as the challenges and actually key to her successful career in art. The first happening was also born out of the desperate reality of the 90s Tbilisi engulfed in fear of the ambiguous future. People exiting the underground (one of the few places having electricity) were taken by surprise seeing the brightly lit street with the images shining on the walls. Driven by the intense desire to cheer and give hope to the confused, disoriented and depressed mass, Elene was personally greeting everyone exiting the underground. More than 10 years after the first performance the artist jokes some of her friends still expect her to stop fooling around and start painting.
Academically trained, Elene has managed to escape its daunting restrictions and find herself as a performance artist. Instead of limiting her the artist says it has helped a lot when working in multimedia especially in terms of composition, teaching the discipline and accuracy, making her perceptive and diligent. Elene closely observes her surroundings and picks up on the most problematic issues. Her art revolves around the social themes, questions about identity, gender and tradition. Seeing the potential of art to change the whole epoch and the standpoint of the whole society, Elene fully understands the importance of its engagement with social questions. Disapproving the non-existent spirit of togetherness in the creative circles, the artist also does not like the local indifferent audience, who was way more receiving and participating in 90s.

Her art always draws parallels with the European values with the aim of resurfacing some of the most problematic aspects of Georgian mentality. She works and thinks a lot about broad concepts such as Georgian national identity, as well as specific historical events. The artist masterly incorporates the distinctive nature of Georgia, being at the crossroads of Asian and European cultures. In order to grasp the roots of some of the most perpetuating stereotypes and perceptions, she often time-travels with her art.

In the performance My effort to follow the footprints  Elene in the national costume, hesitantly approaches the Qvevri, traditional wine making vessel, and tries to squeeze into one of them. In the process she takes off the clothes in order to accomplish the impossible task. Taking off the dress she is left in a plain, monochrome costume- faceless, uniform and boring compared to the national dress. Trying to somehow adjust the Qvevri, she breaks it. Then hugging the fragments she tries to get the pieces together. Finally comes the realisation- it is impossible to squeeze through the Qvevri or mend what has been broken. Regretting, with her head down, she ends the performance. It is quite characteristic for the Georgian society to incorporate the foreign habits into its environment flatly. It looks as forced, unnatural and illogical as trying to fit into a piece of pottery. The allegory of Qvevri is a clever choice, because usually very traditional and very distinctively Georgian customs go through these modifications. ‘The influence of the dominating countries has always been present in Georgia. However, a lot of things get lost in attempt to Europeanize the society- traditions, self-awareness, identity’- remarks the artist.

Ironically, Elene Rakviashvili belongs to the small group of Georgian artists who manage to maintain their distinctiveness and at the same time correspond to the European trends and developments in art; and this is so organic, not a bit is forced.

The performance was brought to London by the non-profit foundation ‘cARTveli'. The collective of Ekaterina Moniava, Elizabeth Chachkhiani and Tereza Kandelaki want to promote the Georgian contemporary art abroad. A product of their inexhaustible enthusiasm, it is a series of pop up shows concentrating on some of the most exciting names.