PRINT April 2013


George Chakhava and Zurab Jalaghania, Ministry of Roads Building (now Bank of Georgia headquarters), 1975, Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Frédéric Chaubin.

This is not a travelogue. We want to stay awhile: “Dispatch,” a new series in Artforum, seeks to expand the perimeter of the art world’s world without flattening it—looking with deep focus at one location, lingering on the culturally and historically specific, alert to the multifariousness of a place. Inviting a plethora of voices— artists, curators, designers, historians, locals, outsiders—to contribute, we hope to initiate and intensify critical discourse about art as it exists in tension with a site.

The first “Dispatch” jumps to the Caucasus region, specifically to Georgia— a nation-state that has undergone an acutely contradictory and turbulent modernity, from the Ottoman Empire to the Soviet regime, the Rose Revolution to the new oligarchs, and which is now seeing an unprecedented revival of artistic activity. Seven distinguished artists and critics limn the current cultural landscape; curators DANIEL BAUMANN and JOANNA WARSZA recount their recent experiences organizing projects and exhibitions at the country’s shape-shifting art venues; art historian NANA KIPIANI delves into the dynamic crucible of the avant-gardes in early-twentieth-century Tbilisi; and architect NIKOLOZ JAPARIDZE charts that city’s gambits in junkspace and Constructivism alike. The fiercely iconoclastic functionalism of the latter is epitomized by the Bank of Georgia headquarters (1975, formerly the Ministry of Roads), in which something of the stunning reversals and projections of Georgian culture, its torquing between East and West, between radical and reactionary, is vividly apparent.