Daniel Baumann

George Kevle, Sleeping, 2006. Performance views, National Art Center, Tbilisi, Georgia, November 2, 2005. From “Wednesday Calls the Future.” Photos: Laurence Bonvin.

“ARE YOU MOTHER THERESA?” an artist asked me in 2005. “Is that why you’re doing a show in Tbilisi? A Swiss helping a former Soviet colony?” Well, no—it was to escape the narrowness of the contemporary art world. And it was a reaction against an art history obsessively focused on Western Europe and the United States, an art history in which the culture east of the Iron Curtain was still a virtual footnote.

When, at the end of the 1990s, Georgian art historian Nana Kipiani invited me to travel to Tbilisi and present a selection of artists’ films, I saw it as an opportunity to expand my knowledge. That trip ultimately didn’t happen, but in 2003, I met Mzia Chikhradze, another Georgian art historian, and we decided to organize a show in Tbilisi. I contacted the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, which not only agreed to fund our project but continued to do so from 2004 until 2009.

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