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.
17.00-18.00 “A Walk of Quadrants in Tundra 145 (charting the nature vs man, intentional vs wild)” / Richard Reynolds
Founder of GuerrillaGardening.org
Through his website GuerrillaGardening.org 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 Back – A 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.
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
*From "The Ant, Respect and Fame", by Anton Koolhaas (Rem Koolhaas’
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.
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
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
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!