Gated – unfinished

The fascinating unfinished monumental gate by the state sculptor Zurab Tsereteli near Tbilisi became the starting image of the series “Gated Communities”. Here, better than in my own country, I could understand the changing role of art in the systems, the choice of signs. That was something very solid on the shaky ground of 1989.

In July I was invited to the “Student Summer” in Georgia. The camp for over a hundred students from the socialist brother countries was in the Abkhazian civil war area near Sochumi on the Black Sea. Despite the midsummer heat, we were only allowed in it once, and not even out in the fields as planned, to pick the famous “Grusinian tea”. The conflict between Abkhazia and Georgia was just flaring up. In the confusion of the post-Soviet independence movements, we students were interned for “our safety and because we would be the ideal hostages” and glued tea packages in a factory hall. Although at morning roll call there was talk of blown up railway lines in addition to the daily death toll, we travelled back to Tbilisi after two weeks as planned. The Georgian Komsomol members managed to organise a cultural programme in the capital, which was shaken by mass demonstrations – through impressive monasteries and the over-the-top Tsereteli Monument to the “History of Georgia” .

gated unfinished” Tseretweli – Gate
canvas, 80 x 60 cm, 1999