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Khariton Akhvlediani's Adjara State Museum Batumi, the National Library in Tbilisi (Mapping The Caucasus With You), Gdansk Shakespeare Theater (MTVS - The Borderization edition)

'Mapping the Caucasus with you' stems from the desire to begin a dialogue between the peoples of the Northern and Southern Caucasus. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the region there is very little information available to Caucasians – both as regards their own  region as well as others. Even in the age of the global village, neighbouring countries, cities and villages in this part of the world remain disconnected. For years, many modes of communication were not possible. We, the people involved in this project, have decided not to wait for anyone else to restore connections, interpret facts or share stories, instead, we  believe in the reinstatement of citizenship as a form of direct democracy, and define our roles as artists as including research and the production of knowledge.

For Mapping the Caucasus with you, I approached individuals throughout the Caucasus, collecting their memories of the past several decades. These narratives lead to the creation of large paintings (maps) in which text and image visualize the layered and entangled histories of this region.

In an accompanying publication, designed by Collective Works (Peter Zuiderwijk & Karin Mientjes)

, the collected narratives were presented, containing mappings of the childhoods of Babi Badalov, Ketino Japharidze, Lado Darakhvelidze and Vadim Chiganash, all of whom grew up 1970’s & 1980’s, a period which is generally experienced as peaceful in comparison to the 1990’s. Besides the childhood maps there is a contribution by Levan Asabashvili – an analysis of the urban development of Tbilisi in the period from 1985 to 2013, and lastly, we present a discussion from one of the many Caucasian online forums where Georgians, Ossetians and Abkhazians actually are meeting and imagining a shared future.

In collaboration with Onno Dirker, two performances took place, one at the Khariton Akhvlediani's Adjara State Museum in Batumi and a second at the National Librairy in Tbilisi. In these performances, the large paintings together with historic maps of the region provided discussion points between those present and invited guests who spoke, sang or were interviewed via live stream. Significantly, the audience participants all came from various communities who visibly felt a desire to share and take part in these discussions. Striking was their curiosity to hear each other's memories and perspectives on the past and present. The project connected communities across regions for the first time in decades.

In 2015 a third performance took place at the The Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre in collaboration with Onno Dirker, Nadia Tsulukidze and  Mikey Georgeson.

Made possible by:

The European Foundation/ Step Beyond

Het Mondriaan Fonds

Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia

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