Critics’ Picks

David Meskhi, Nonexistent Spot No 02, 2013, ink-jet print, 5 x 8".


David Meskhi

Galerie für Moderne Fotografie
Schröderstrasse 13
November 9–January 28

In David Meskhi’s photographs, the juxtaposition of opposites, in terms of form as well as content, is always in the foreground. The thirty photographs currently on display can be read as a movement study of the body: Alternating black-and-white and color exposures present male gymnasts in training put into dialogue with photographs of skateboarders in the open air. Even if images such as Nonexistent Spot No 02, 2013, recall the Californian skater scene at first glance, the surreal, brutal backdrop in Meskhi’s photograph, an abandoned concrete spot reminiscent of a landing strip, points to his focus on the youth culture of his homeland, Georgia. But unlike the current fashion for taking inspiration from post-Soviet culture—as in the work of designers Gosha Rubchinskiy or Demna Gvasalia—the photographs here, with infrastructural ruins in the background, make reference to a social burden tied to political circumstances.

While in the skater series space is ordered by horizon lines, it all but dissolves in the series “Abstract Body 01-12,” 2016. Bodies appear to be weightless, freed from any gravitational pull. Furthermore, the images, taken in a gym in Georgia, are very nostalgic, and subtly homoerotic moments permeate. What is intuitive in skating is a matter of discipline in gymnastics, but at the heart of each is a brief moment of suspension. Meskhi’s images have moments of tension in which such lightness takes on more complex meanings, given the geographical and sociopolitical backgrounds against which these scenes play out. The act of letting go offers these youths the possibility to take a stance and relate to their environment, as well as a chance to escape it.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.