Berlin, DE / Tbilisi, GE

(Background) During the pandemic and isolation, painting and animated pictures became the centre of my activities, my place of refuge. The tools of drawing helped me to stay connected with the flow of life that I could not experience directly. Images that I created would replace spatial movement and interaction in their absence. At times it felt like existing and not existing at the same time.

The sequence of archival material shows the village population of Pankisi valley of Georgia attacking police forces. It is a region with about 5.000 inhabitants, most of them ethnic Chechens (known locally as Kists). In 2019, the people were fighting against the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, which they managed to stop temporarily. But the population lives under fear of a possible continuation of the construction work. The Pankisi population gets their water supply from the river that spreads over the whole valley and maintains agriculture. It is also a main feature of beauty within the village, which they can't imagine living without.

During the first year of the pandemic in 2020, a local protest emerged again; this time in NAMOKHVANI, a village of the mountain area in western Georgia, 300m above sea level. A part of the river Rioni was sold for 99 years to the world’s largest construction company ENKA (İnşaat ve Sanayi A.Ş.) that will extract electricity and export it for selling abroad. Financial plans showed that this project will not bring the local communities any financial revenue. Scientists stated clearly that the location is seismologically highly active, and the landscape is not stable enough for a huge power plant.

A critical document provided by the Justice Ministry openly opposed building a dam under the given circumstances, but it was hidden from the public and the construction work is still happening.

The protest in Namakhvani, which started around a fire with a few people, grew bigger and bigger. It now involves the majority of the population, even many abroad. From Berlin, I followed the news feeds on social media. Even during the pandemic, for more than 222 days protesters are now staying outside in tents, demanding the cancellation of the massive dam project and independence from the neo-colonial forces.

Protests filled the streets in Kutaisi in Tbilisi and locally. But since the government sold the land, retracting from the contract might cause the country to go into debt of a few hundred millions. Since the current government is incapable of assessing this deal, European Union Commission on Energy intervened for the mediation.

(Association) The dragon is frequently used in Georgian Mythology and dragon tales are connected mainly to water. The dragon lives near lakes and rivers and demands human sacrifice in exchange for water. In the animation, a dragon is challenged while there is an ongoing struggle against privatizing a  resource. A camera in the scene is shown turning time upside down and captures the clash between the local population and militarized police.

-Tamar Magradze

Desktop Archives is an online publishing initiative and event series that showcases webworks from 10 different artists. The project is DIY and works outside of institutional networks. Together, the platform documents and archives unrests from the pandemic and the asynchronous, unequivalent emergences.

The platform is a growing archive and will have two editions in
June and November 2021. It will be accompanied by a series of artist talks.

Dates: June 30th 2021-February 28th, 2022
Online | Warsaw | Berlin 

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