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55th Venice Biennale. The Pavilion of Georgia

The Pavilion of Georgia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia is a parasitic extension to an old building in the Arsenale. This informal structure called “kamikaze loggia”— characteristic of Tbilisi—has been designed by the artist Gio Sumbadze, who is a researcher of the typology of these architectural additions. Vernacular extensions of modernist buildings have been created since the 1990s as an organic response to the new, “lawless” times after the fall of the Soviet Union. They increase the living space and are usually used as terraces, extra rooms, open refrigerators, or—as in Sumbadze’s case—an artist studio. It is said that a Russian journalist named them “kamikaze”, drawing a parallel between the romantic and suicidal character of such an endeavour and the typical ending of mostGeorgian family names “-adze”. This architecture also refers back to the local palimpsestic building technique, which since the Middle Ages has allowed new houses to be built on top of existing ones on the steep slopes of the Caucasus Mountains thus not monumentalising the past but expanding on it for the future.

This year the Pavilion of Georgia takes the form of a kamikaze loggia hosting an exhibition of the Bouillon Group, Thea Djordjadze, Nikoloz Lutidze, Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, and Gio Sumbadze. The exhibition looks at the creation of such informal architecture, a manifestation of the refusal of dominant structures, in order to incorporate provisional liberty, local self-determination and contemporary appropriation of the infrastructural legacy of Soviet master plans. The exhibition aims at presenting the extraordinary range of informality, bottom-up solutions and the concept of self- organization in Georgian art and architecture. Looking at local examples of self-initiated environments—e. g. kamikaze loggias, “euroremonts”, “beautifications” or other modifications of the Soviet heritage—the project seek to examine their anticipatory and often progressive potential. It casts a critical look at the social, political and ideological discourses of the last twenty years in Georgia—thus introducing an artistic scene of a country that sometimes is described as “Italy gone Marxist”.

(stefano cernuschi)

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georgian-pavilion.org

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Thea Djordjadze, Abanotubani, 2013. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Thea Djordjadze, Abanotubani, 2013. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Thea Djordjadze, Abanotubani, 2013. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, Bakhneli Archive, 2013. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, Bakhneli Archive, 2013. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, Bakhneli Archive, 2013. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Gio Sumbadze, Kamikaze Loggia, 2013. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Gio Sumbadze, Portrait. Photo: Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV. © Levan Maisuradze / Artarea TV

Dinner Exchange Tbilisi-Venice, 2013. Photo: Sandra Teitge

Bouillon Group, Religious Aerobics, 2013. Photo: Bouillon Group

Bouillon Group, Religious Aerobics, 2013. Photo: Bouillon Group

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General views, Kamikaze Loggia, Georgian Pavillion. Photos: Gio Sumbadze © Gio Sumbadze

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