Frozen Moments: Architecture Speaks Back. Research & Leisure
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2010 Frozen Moments: Architecture Speaks Back. Research & Leisure
Art, architecture, talks, concerts, field trips, and more


The Cau­ca­sus speaks with frozen moments. With the fall of the Com­mu­nist regime, trains stopped mid-​route, the cable car over one of the canyons of Tbilisi was aban­doned halfway, and the hous­ing estates of the never real­ized future in Mush found tem­po­rary set­tlers. The her­itage of Soviet archi­tec­ture in the region has revealed its antic­i­pa­tory poten­tial of mul­ti­ple sec­ondary uses, cre­ative economies, and the sus­tain­able and self-​organizing poli­cies par­al­lelly present in the cul­tural dis­course nowa­days. The Former Min­istry of High­ways of the Soviet Repub­lic of Georgia, erected in 1975 by archi­tects George Chakhava (1923–2007) and Zurab Jalagha­nia is one of the most stun­ning build­ings in the world. An exam­ple of a realized utopia (a utopie réalisable), it has been productive of an augmented real­ity, blend­ing the image of the future under Com­mu­nism with organic, palimpsestic architecture and the con­cepts of a continuous, non-master-planned environment. This three-​day res­i­dency of Cau­casian and inter­na­tional artists, archi­tects, cura­tors, aca­d­e­mics, and of the Tbilisi public will offer rich and fas­ci­nat­ing ses­sions of research and leisure around the mul­ti­ple vari­a­tions of this het­ero­topic place. The pro­gram includes talks, work­shops, art and archi­tec­ture, con­certs, field trips, and roof par­ties. The point of departure refers to the poet­ics of frozen images, with its inher­ent poten­tial of past and future meanings — whether the legacy of mod­ernism, a moving and walk­ing city, plug-​in con­cepts, ‘back-to-the-future’ poli­cies, and much more. For three days in July this fan­tas­tic build­ing will become a diagram for var­i­ous hor­i­zon­tal con­tri­bu­tions, where one spon­ta­neous act may rad­i­cally change the project.  This will also be the only public open­ing of the build­ing before its ren­o­va­tion as the future head­quar­ters of the Bank of Geor­gia. Come join us in Tbil­isi!  





22 July, Thursday



11.00 Frozen Cable Car: A Welcome Image


11.30-13.30 Con­flict Sites & Lived Tran­si­tions: Social Con­se­quences In the New Real­ity A Field Trip by Levan Asabashvili / Urban Reactor


Urban Reac­tor is con­vinced that archi­tec­ture and plan­ning cannot be prac­ticed in the autonomous regime. They perceive built space as a product and at the same time as a determining frame­work of com­plex tech­no­log­i­cal, social, eco­nomic and polit­i­cal rela­tions being in the state of per­ma­nent change and mutual influ­ence. They are not inspired by the abstract and remote con­cep­tions, formal com­plex­i­ties or engi­neer­ing potentials. They are public activists with a critical stance towards their pro­fes­sion and the socio-​spatial real­ity we happen to live in. They see the value of their work - con­cepts cul­ti­vated, tech­niques applied or deci­sions made - by the extent to which it addresses prob­lems in the wider per­spec­tive of a socio-cultural dimension.

Public opening:


17.00-18.00 “A Walk of Quad­rants in Tundra 145 (chart­ing the nature vs man, inten­tional vs wild)” / Richard Reynolds

Founder of Guer​ril​la​Gar​den​


Through his web­site Guer​ril​la​Gar​den​ and book On Guer­rilla Gar­den­ing Richard Reynolds has met and gar­dened along­side guer­rilla gar­den­ers from around the world and has become some­thing of a spokesperson for a diverse and loosely gath­ered move­ment that chal­lenges the way we use public space today. The con­cept for his research is based on cat­e­go­riz­ing and fram­ing the layers of hor­ti­cul­tural his­tory at a location through obser­va­tion and inter­view; using these as inspi­ra­tion for some tem­po­rary micro gar­dens, exper­i­ments in what might be and recre­ations of what has passed.


Richard offers will offer a walk on the roots of Partheno­cis­sus tri­cus­p­i­data, in the water­fall, in the thugs retreat, where Hedera helix col­lapses under its own weight and falls from the build­ing, through the arrange­ment of bricks, turf, wood and fenc­ing on the 14th floor, to the pio­neer­ing weeds, that break through the bitu­men roof, the new creeper, the high rise swamps, the tree top and more.



18.30-19.00 Auto­cen­ter Speaks BackA cin­e­matic per­for­mance by Ei Arakawa & Mari Mukai & Gela Patashuri & Sergei Tcherepnin


19.30-20.15 We Live Your Future Public – A Talk with the Archi­tect Zurab Jalagha­nia, Kora Chakhava, George Chakhava (son), mod­er­ated by Vahram Aghasyan (in Russ­ian with trans­la­tion into English)


20.20 – 22.00 Retro-​Futuro: Indone­sian tales music set by Cumbogroup

And a Roof Cocktail


Cum­bogroup is a collective of artists and musi­cians located in Tbil­isi, which relates to the notion of ‘Cumbo’, which in Geor­gian slang means helper or ser­vant (with good inten­tions). Cumbo is not a single work or project, but a general posi­tion towards the cul­ture and life.



23 July, Friday



10.00-12.00 Waste, An Organ­ism – A field trip by Daniel Birken­mayer to the Tbil­isi Cen­tral Dump with an excur­sus on waste as an organ­ism and its metabolism


Tbil­isi pro­duces every year approx­i­mately 400.000 tons of waste. It’s a mixture of house­hold and busi­ness wastes and other indus­trial trashes. Nei­ther is there any con­trol of the amounts and con­tents being dumped nor are there any tech­ni­cal fea­tures for the pro­tec­tion of the envi­ron­ment. All toxins directly affect soil, ground­wa­ter, sur­face water, air and food-​chain. A waste dump as such goes through dif­fer­ent life cycles. In gen­eral we can say that by dif­fer­ent meta­bolic, processes all organic con­tents are being con­sumed and in the end only min­er­als and metals will be left. This process is of degra­da­tion needs cer­tain con­di­tions and pro­duces dif­fer­ent out­puts. The the­o­ret­i­cal excurse on site will focus on the vision of waste-​dumps as organ­isms and on under­stand­ing their metab­o­lisms with the dif­fer­ent processes and outputs.



12.00-13.00 A visit at the Kamikadze loggia and a short lec­ture on the inher­ent logic of exten­sions in the Cau­ca­sus and a presentation of the New Map of Tbilisi

by Gio Sum­badze / Urban Research Lab / New Map of Tbilisi


Urban Research Lab­o­ra­tory is a platform serv­ing the visual arts by enlarg­ing their exhibit­ing con­texts, find­ing loca­tions for var­i­ous mul­ti­me­dia and non-​media inter­ven­tions, inte­grat­ing art with the archi­tec­tural land­scape, acoustic con­texts or urban con­di­tions. URL serves also as an archive because of fast grow­ing destruc­tive processes of the archi­tec­tural her­itage from the end of the last cen­tury such as the soviet infra­struc­ture. URL is also build­ing a database for Tbil­isi social hous­ing of the “mikro-raions” (microdis­tricts), by col­lect­ing the tech­ni­cal data about the architect’s con­cepts, the con­struc­tion processes, or the par­tic­u­lar locations.


16.00-20.30 After­noon Talks Pro­gram: Out­opias?!

Held in English


16.00-16.30 Jan Ver­wo­ert The three tasks of moder­nity: meet its ghosts, break the chain and hear the things talk. Some thoughts on the art of bear­ing wit­ness, the pol­i­tics of inter­rupt­ing tra­di­tion and the craft of trans­lat­ing between sense and non­sense as prac­ti­cal chal­lenges set by an unfin­ished modernity.

16.40-17.10 Nana Kip­i­ani “Give Me Future Today” (Vladimir Mayakovsky)


In an attempt to find the roots of Chakhava’s build­ing from 1970’s we will go in sev­eral direc­tions start­ing from an overview of the Middle Age organic city tra­di­tion using the exam­ple of Tbil­isi, to the Soviet organic and “paper architecture” of 1920-1930’s, to Tbil­isi avant-​garde in visual arts and poetry of the same period. In addi­tion, we will also exam­ine briefly the pol­i­tics and urban ideas of 1960-1970’s.

17.30-18.15 Out­opias: The City of the Third Mil­len­nium. A Skype con­ver­sa­tion between Yona Fried­man and Eric Troussicot

The true Utopias are those, which are real­iz­able. To believe in a Utopia and to be, at the same time, real­is­tic, is not a contradiction. Yona Friedman

The visions inspired deployed since the Fifties by Yona Fried­man have more recently been met by real­ity, and at the same time, to some extent, reha­bil­i­tated his work. Let us ques­tion then the future, the con­cept of the city of the third mil­len­nium, via an inter­posed screen inside a building, set up in 1975, which con­sti­tutes a fragment of Ville Spa­tial car­ried out.


18.15 – Sum up discussion



18.40 – 19.10 Art from Archi­tec­ture and Archi­tec­ture from Art - Didier Fiúza Faustino’s and Math­ieu Her­be­lin (Bureau des Mésarchitectures)


“Didier Fiúza Faustino’s work (…) indis­tinctly is using genres in a way that sum­ma­rizes an eth­i­cal and polit­i­cal atti­tude about the con­di­tions for con­struct­ing a place in the socio-​cultural fabric of the city. Spaces, build­ings and objects show them­selves to be plat­forms for the inter­sec­tion of the indi­vid­ual body and the col­lec­tive body in their use. Each project rep­re­sents a concept that sub­verts the social con­text, in which seeing is exper­i­ment­ing beyond sub­mis­sion to the dichotomy of the rules that nor­mally mark out public space and pri­vate space. The body is recen­tred on the basis of the social impli­ca­tions of the space, alert­ing people to the dan­gers of sub­ject­ing it to an ambi­gu­ity of rep­re­sen­ta­tion that may con­tribute towards their for­get­ting its iden­tity. (…)”

João Fer­nan­des (Direc­tor of the Ser­ralves Con­tem­po­rary Art Museum, Lisbon, Portugal)


19.10 - Questions


19.20 – 19.50 Georg Schöllhammer Africa? Transna­tional Projects and Col­lec­tive Cura­to­r­ial Practice

While the ancient art and colo­nial his­to­ries of West Asia and the South Mediter­ranean coun­tries of the Middle East and North Africa are famil­iar enough to an inter­ested public in Europe, knowl­edge of Mod­ernism and Neo-Avant-Garde in this region is still very lim­ited. This applies espe­cially to the period of the 1960’s: Con­cep­tu­al­ism in the Cau­ca­sus, the impact of The Tri­en­nial of India on West Asia, urban avant-​gardes in the Middle East and in Iran, the Neo Avant-​Garde visual cul­tures of the Maghreb – all these are sto­ries still to be locally researched and trans- locally told. They are not yet can­on­ized, nor even locally known. One con­cern is to present this period in its marked orig­i­nal­ity, includ­ing in many points con­gru­ences and dif­fer­ences with West­ern concepts.

 19.50- Questions


20.00 – 20.30 Reflec­tions on a Post-Everything Con­text by Ayreen Anas­tas and Rene Gabri


Post-Modern, Post-Apartheid, Post-Soviet, Post-​Communist, Post-Socialist, Post-Colonial, Post-​Feminist, Post-Identity, Post-Capitalist, Post-​Democratic, Post-​Crash, Post-​Post. The two artists will attempt to touch on their own research over the last 10 years while con­nect­ing to the first day of talks. They will also attempt to out­line a few ques­tions, which they con­sider impor­tant both in the con­text of our col­lec­tive research as well as any effort to develop a practice in a post-everything context.


20.30 – Sum up Discussion



21.00 Fuck­ing Good Art 13th Floor, 2 Tower

An infor­mal dia­logue about ele­va­tors, archi­tec­ture, art, exorcism, fame and
glory, power and decay, and about an ant that meets a sugar cube and
decides to ded­i­cate its life to it.


*From "The Ant, Respect and Fame", by Anton Kool­haas (Rem Koolhaas’
father, who was a well known Dutch fables writer).


21.30 Live set by: Acci­den­tal Lover Boyz


Any cyber­netic System with a program of “Free will” inside of it – is a STRATEGY. Soko­muzika is a system. Acci­den­tal Lover Boyz is a free will. The Sound is a STRATEGY. Any build­ing is an organ­ism. Organ­ism that uses free will as a battery for its own exis­tence is an ARCHI­TEC­TURE. Join our bat­tery Sound inside the dying organ­ism on the 23d day of this month.

ELY (Acci­den­tial Lover BoyZ) is a smART GROUP­ware, located in the "concrete jungles" of the Second World, a living organ­ism, new con­cept of the smArt Group which will sur­vive in the cold Offline Net­work dis­con­nec­tions like a Virus. 


22.00 Dinner: together or indi­vid­u­ally (sug­ges­tions will be provided)


24 July, Saturday



10.00-12.30 Vahram Aghasyan Remains of the Future: the Poten­tial Sec­ondary Uses, a work­shop and a presentation (with a break)

The work­shop will be held on the bases of the impro­vised archive of the build­ing of the former Min­istry of Auto­mo­bile Roads of Geor­gia part of which will be exhib­ited in the build­ing. The archive was col­lected with Nini Pala­van­dishvili, Lali Perte­nava, Ana Bejanashvili, Gogiko Sak­vare­lidze with the gen­er­ous  sup­port of Chakhava family and Zurab Jalagha­nia. This is the first attempt to ini­ti­ate an archive of the build­ing after the great fire that took place in the studio of George Chakhava in 2008 destroy­ing projects, models, blue­prints, pho­tographs and other related mate­ri­als. The work­shop con­sists of pre­sen­ta­tions, dis­cus­sions and will sum up with a proposal for a hypothetical alter­na­tive usage of the building.

13.00 – 14.00 Romanc­ing the Peaks of Poly­glots / Slavs and Tatars (Part 1)

A visit to the tombs of two star-​crossed lovers–Alek­sander Gri­boye­dov and Nino Chavchavadze–at the top of Mtats­minda Pan­theon. A famous 19th cen­tury play­wright and diplo­mat, Gri­boye­dov was the author of Горе от ума (Gore ot uma), a play of man­ners whose robust title trav­els business-​class from the orig­i­nal Russ­ian to the scrap­pier shores of the Eng­lish econ­omy in Woe from Wit. Using the salu­tary tale of Griboyedov's and Chavchavadze's romance, the walk will touch upon Georgia's com­plex rap­port with its north­ern and south­ern neigh­bors, respec­tively Russia and Iran.

14.30-15.30 Lunch

After­noon talks pro­gram: Ruins of our times / Case studies

16.00-16.30 Payam Shar­ifi / Slavs and Tatars KID­NAP­PING MOUNTAINS (Part 2)

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

16.30 - Questions

16.40-17.10 Alena Boika Pro­gres­sive Nos­tal­gia: between glam­our and lace curtains


On the ruins of any empire, some­thing new is always spring­ing up; it is inevitable. The USSR was the pow­er­ful empire, and its col­lapse brought forth an appear­ance of the dif­fer­ent forms of a chaos, orga­nized with a different level of order and the absurd. Belarus is a unique coun­try, where the ruins of an empire gave birth to attempts to create a new one, but in the frames of one, not so big, but extremely closed coun­try. The Empire, where ide­ol­ogy and his­tory are cre­ated from the timid remains of the former and, the deci­sive assev­er­a­tions of new prin­ci­pals and slo­gans. The words sound proud and stately, but visu­al­ity is falling apart, notable to endure the dishar­mony of fake constructions.


17.10 - Questions

17.20 – 17.50 Ruben Arevshatyan Open-​Air Hall of Cinema Moscow in Yerevan

Par­al­lel to the inten­sive sociopo­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural devel­op­ments that were taking place in post-​soviet Arme­nia within these last 15 years Yere­van and some other cities of the repub­lic have been expe­ri­enc­ing dras­tic trans­for­ma­tions of urban spaces. Con­struc­tion of new build­ings, gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of big dis­tricts has been devel­op­ing with ten­den­tious anni­hi­la­tion of public zones in the city and cor­rup­tion as well as com­plete destruc­tion of late Soviet mod­ernistic archi­tec­ture. Cinema Moscow is one of such build­ings that has recently gen­er­ated around itself an active public dis­course and a social move­ment which has turned into a battleground of world-​views between var­i­ous social groups, the gov­ern­ment and the church. What are the rea­sons and his­tor­i­cal premises of such a confrontation? Why is Soviet mod­ernistic archi­tec­ture being con­sid­ered as a “potential threat” for evolv­ing neo-​liberal eco­nomic, polit­i­cal and cul­tural sys­tems in post-​ideological Arme­nia? What could be the tac­tics and strate­gies for regain­ing public spaces?

17.50 - Ques­tions 

10 min break


18.10-18.40 William Hol­lis­ter The Czech National Museum Head­quar­ters: a brief his­tory of the adopted use of a dated structure.


The Czechoslo­vak Fed­eral Par­lia­ment was built around the former Czechoslo­vak Stocke Exchange in the 1960s. When Czecho­slo­va­kia ceased to exist, Radio Free Europe took it over. After 9- 11, it became per­ceived as a terrorist target; RFE moved out. It has now become the head­quar­ters of the Czech National Museum. This very brief his­tory of the chang­ing uses of a single build­ing will be offered for com­par­i­son to the Tbil­isi story. When gov­ern­ments col­lapse, what sort of insti­tu­tions can fill the space?


18.40 – Questions


18.50-19.20 Nestan Tatarashvili - Lecture-​Performance On Preser­va­tion of Archi­tec­ture from Soviet Georgia


Our his­tory is writ­ten by archi­tec­ture, which is per­ma­nent action and we do not have to be like deaf wit­nesses in this process. The memory of my gen­er­a­tion con­tains 20-20 years both of the Soviet and the inde­pen­dent era. We are part of these changes: the polit­i­cal system as well as our envi­ron­ment – nature, archi­tec­ture, urban­ism etc. Can we be an active part of the sub­ver­sive preser­va­tion? At times when devel­op­ers claim cre­ative destruc­tion, how shall we think preser­va­tion as a civic practice?


19.20 - Questions


19.30-20.00 Niko Japaridze Dream West - Imag­ine Soviet /  Imag­ine West - Dream Soviet



Archi­tec­tural land­marks are under threat across the post-​Soviet space, from 18th-century houses to Con­struc­tivist cre­ations to grand Stal­in­ist build­ings, as well as great works of the 1970s. The cityscapes of the post-​Soviet space are taking on a 'Dis­ney­land Qual­ity' mostly due to the prac­tice of replac­ing his­tor­i­cal build­ings with modern struc­tures built in con­crete and dis­guised by a mock facade in a quasi-historical style. There is an urgent need to look at the his­tor­i­cal causes of this sit­u­a­tion and to explore new impulses that can divert this unfor­tu­nate direc­tion in archi­tec­tural ideas. It took a long time for the local com­mu­nity to rec­og­nize the impor­tance of The Min­istry of Roads build­ing, not only as a Georgian land­mark but as a crucially impor­tant edi­fice in the con­text of a worldwide his­tory of architecture.


20.00 – 20.20 Ques­tions and Discussion



20.45 A Stein in the Wall - A Night­time of Read­ing of Gertrude Stein’s poetry and prose by Melinda Braa­then and Jan Verwoert

21.30 Flying Min­istry – An Action by Agnieszka Kurant


22.00 Dinner


25 July, Sunday


A trip to Cau­ca­sus Moun­tains includ­ing Dio­rama on the cross pass of the Cau­ca­sus Moun­tains fol­lowed by a picnic at Gela Patashuri’s coun­try house


Day includes:


Daniel Birken­mayer: Float­ing In Space / a 45 minute med­i­ta­tion session

Our notion of real­ity is a constructed frag­ment. What we see, feel, think and so on is basi­cally a product of the fil­tered per­cep­tions of our six sen­soric fields and an over­lay of ratio­nal judg­ments of like and dis­like. We are con­di­tioned by our edu­ca­tional and cul­tural imprints and we have dif­fi­cul­ties in accept­ing new views.  We believe that all we see is all what is. Only seldom we see with­out these pat­terns of con­trol. And even less often we manage to rec­og­nize such moments where the nature of real­ity flour­ishes and we gain insight. The unusual, unex­pected sit­u­a­tion of this build­ing bears a great poten­tial, to serve us with a crucial expe­ri­ence, to give us a taste and to famil­iarise us with the aware­ness of such moments of uncon­di­tioned per­cep­tion of the nature of reality.



16.00 Vladimir Vol­novik: What is to be Undone? (a con­cept for a final discussion)

The artist Vladimir Vol­novik was asked to pro­pose some­thing for the series of events enti­tled And And And, which com­pose a part of the upcom­ing dOC­U­MENTA (13).  He has pro­posed a final dis­cus­sion involv­ing all of the par­tic­i­pants of this event and con­tributed the fol­low­ing ques­tion: If archi­tec­ture has been at the center of the most utopic and dystopic of projects in the 20th and early 21st cen­tury - what are artists, archi­tects, thinkers, and activists doing today to undo, rethink, or reeval­u­ate the ges­tures, unex­am­ined poten­tial­i­ties, or dire con­se­quences of these projects?






Artists, academics, architects, curators, economists, and residents of Tbilisi in a context-responsive summer art project in the time between the former Ministry of Highways of the Soviet Republic of Georgia and the future headquarters of Bank of Georgia: 


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


A project by Joanna Warsza

Link to the program!