An exhibition showcasing work by 20 artists from Central and Eastern Europe has opened in Tbilisi.
Know Thy Neighbour was commissioned by Oxygen, an art project by Georgian contemporary art institution Propaganda. Curated by Irena Popiashvili, the show brings together artists from across the region in a bid to find new, contemporary iterations of past regional connections.
“After organising a show at Y Gallery in Minsk last year, I travelled to Kyiv and Yerevan and realised how little I — we — knew about each other’s contemporary art world,” Popiashvili says. “It’s important to explore the connections that existed between our countries, our neighbours, before that connection was mediated by Russia, and this is an attempt to start a dialogue directly, especially between the young generation of artists.”
Striking works include Anna Jibladze’s 2020 soft sculpture In My Dreams You Were Never Born, echoing Louise Bourgeois’s naturalistic pink-stitched sculptures. Jibladze’s artwork references a custom in the Caucasus whereby women sent their babies away to families from another ethnic group so that the child would learn other languages and create better inter-ethnic relations. The Eliava by Andrew North, an intricate, panorama-esque sketch of traders selling hardware at Tbilisi’s Eliava Bazroba market, offers a snapshot of life at one of Georgia’s diminishing marketplaces.
Other highlights include Moscow-based artist Taus Makhacheva’s video Super Taus, where her alter ego, a woman in a mountain village in Dagestan, performs acts of great physical strength, and Georgian artist Uta Bekaia’s surreal multimedia trilogy Superhumans, deconstructing socio-cultural stereotypes via references to religion, classical mythology, cinema, painting, and advertising.
See more of the show here.