Artist Tamara Kvesitadze represented the Republic of Georgia at the 54th International Exposition of Art in Venice, Italy (The Biennale) this summer.
Trained as an architect yet concentrating primarily on sculptures that use intricate mechanical workings to articulate pliable surfaces, for her second Biennale exhibition on behalf of Georgia Kvesitadze combined a broad and intriguing range of media. The exhibition title, “Any-Medium-Whatever” – was applied to the installation not in the dismissive “who cares” mode of too much of modern society, but in the positive context of
“Being such that it always matters”.
Her work, in the words of curator Henk Slager, is
“…an artistic way of thought particularly confronting the intrinsic violence arising from rejecting a logic of identity or similarity. While resisting such a logic, Kvesitadze denies access to homogenization, instrumentalization, territorialism, or any other condensing anthropological condition. Instead she embraces a focus on mutating processes in the comprehension of the powers and desires of humankind.”
That intense statement is packed with meaning that the artist learned from witnessing two decades of violence in her homeland after it achieved independence from the USSR, decades that built upon the homogenously anonymous violence (physical, cultural or spiritual) that the Soviet system version of “The Enlightenment” new humanism had imposed upon Georgia during many prior decades of autocratic rule.
We visited the exhibit on an upper floor of the Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina on Calle delle Erbe between Campo Santa Marina and Campo San Giovanni e Paolo (Zanipolo) at length. A combination of high-walled volumetric space and an elevated interior courtyard allowed great flexibility of expression for the organizer and curator to assist the artist in presenting the works to great effect.
We were very fortunate to be able to enjoy a great conversation with the very articulate Paivi Tirkkonen, Commissioner for Georgia (and Latvia, too, at another venue) and organizer of the exhibit, that clearly demonstrated the depth of the physical connection of the artist’s work with the fate of the peoples of the world that is Tamara Kvesitadze’s heartfelt concern, and I clearly observed a carefully crafted message of warning to the observer in the major works she exhibited here.
Some of Kvesitadze’s large pieces quietly moved the scores of identical white, anonymous faces apart, stretching connectivity – and then back together, in crushing deformation (“F=F” and “Sphere” ).
These images and their “controlled behind the scenes” activity were not a statement about overpopulation or urban crowding, but about the dehumanizing, homogenizing sameness that centralized, “new humanist” cultural gurus and self-proclaimed intellectual elites, demand of us – uniformity and quiet abandonment of individuality.
We have seen from the public pronouncement of the leadership of those elites that, of course, being superior, those elites are not limited to the same power and control future they insist upon for those identified as their lessers.
That judgment on their part assigns each of you to a future of non-humanity, mute, sightless, insensate puppets and pawns in their grand scheme. If you believe that such a future is peaceful, justly inclusive, or absurd, please ponder Voltaire’s statement that…
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”.
Then, recall the repeated and ever greater atrocities committed over the past 150 years by those who would claim the ability to perfect mankind (while “necessarily breaking a few eggs”), cleanse your eyes, ears and brain of the false-hero-worship leading you and society down the same path today!
Tamara Kvesitadze’s work “Disappearance”, mounted on the courtyard sidewall, was a chilling representation of the transformation of individuals from people into a featureless, formless stew that demonstrates the outcome of giving in to the slavery of the collective.
People are the living, breathing, flesh and blood media. Swirled together in a bland melange of “Whatever?” sameness without value, mechanized life orchestrated by the infamous “man behind the curtain”? NO!
People – as individuals and in voluntary community- all and always matter.
All images in this article are courtesy of Tamara Kvesitadze (all rights reserved).