We spent today in Tbilisi, visiting Rusiko Oat at her New Art Cafe. This turned out to be a great opportunity to accidentally meet people that we’d intended to get in touch with anyway.

Ana Riaboshenko from TRAM (Transform Art Module) spoke to us about their projects in Tbilisi and the regions. She also told us about her work at Open Society Georgia Foundation.

Magda Guruli, curator of Artisterium, arts manager at and editor of Loop’A international art magazine, spoke to us about the upcoming Artisterium event in October and the Emergency Biennale – a touring exhibition dedicated to Chechnya which makes its 12th stop in Tbilisi.

Wato Tsereteli – artist and teacher at the Academy talked about his work, his plans for opening a small contemporary art centre in Tbilisi and art education in Georgia after the move to the Bologna system in HE.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around in Tbilisi’s gorgeous old town before heading back to Kote’s to watch some early films by Otar Iosseliani.

Tomorrow, off to Ratcha.



Got to Tbilisi on a marshrutka and went straight to a meeting with Sophia Tabatadze – a Dutch-educated Georgian artist living in Berlin. Sophia showed us around her house that is currently being extended by an extra floor to host GeoAIR – a residency programme for international curators, organisations and artists interested in making connections in the South Caucasus. Situated in central Tbilisi it will certainly be a great base for exploring the arts scene in the region.

We then met Nana Kirmelashvili for a coffee. Nana is a curator and one of initiators of Caucasus Biennale and chair of Association Art Caucasus. She told us about and her current projects including curating the Georgian exhibition for this year’s Prague biennale.

In the afternoon we visited Mamuka Japharidze‘s place in a village outside Tbilisi, with impressive views over the city. Mamuka and his British partner’s new house was also built with the purpose of hosting artists, but in a more informal way without a formal residency programme or institutional structure. Mamuka also showed us some his work.

We then got a lift to Kote Jacharidze’s flat where we spent the evening with him and his friend Kote Sulaberidze, looking at their work, watching Georgian video art and learning about the famous Georgian toasting traditions.



Yesterday the Austrian artists presented their projects: mostly conceptual and site-specific installations and performances. The well-attended presentation was followed by a party with a Georgian buffet, a roast lamb, plenty local wine and obviously Georgian music and a bonfire.

Another event took place at the Art Villa today: L’Expédition Cycloscope‘s i.e. Helene and Fred’s amazing performance which involved silent movies projected using power generated by a bicycle and a live musical accompaniment on Clarinet and Accordian.

We helped with documenting both events.

Tomorrow we are off to Tbilisi for a couple of days to work on our research and meet people, then on to the Ratcha region to visit Arteli Ratcha residency run by artist Kote Jincharadze.



So we are at Art Villa Garikula, in the village of Akhalkalaki, near Kaspi in the Shida Kartli region, about one hour drive from Tbilisi.

The landscape around is amazing and so is the house itself, built by Polish engineer and architect Bolgarski in 1885. After the bolshevik revolution the house was used as an orphanage,a rabbit shed and army base, now it hosts a contemporary art centre, founded and run by artist Karaman Kutateladze.

There are lots of other people around: a group of Austrian artists working on their projects for Festinova International Festival of Contemporary Art that Garikula is hosting in October, L’Expédition Cycloscope – a French couple of bicycle travellers who also run bicycle powered film shows, and several Garikula staff.

Almost every day there are visitors from Tbilisi: artists, curators, friends of friends…every corner of the house and its massive garden is full of people working, chatting, eating and drinking.

We decide to explore the area, get used to being in one place for a few days and start working on our project when the others are finished.



So there are two Akhalkalakis… we decided to travel into Georgia by marshrutka from Gyumri to Akhalkalki, having checked that it was possible with the Armenian tourist office. It was only a couple of hours from Gyumri and not very expensive.

We crossed the border and got out of the Marshrutka at what was apparently the centre of town. Immediately we were descended upon by 4 or 5 taxi drivers, all wanting to know where we were going.

We call our contact at Garikula.

Martin: Hi Rezo, we’ve arrived.

Rezo: Great, are you in Garikula yet?

Martin: Not yet, we’re in Akhalkalaki. How do we get to you?

Rezo: Just take a taxi. It’s not far.

We ask the taxi drivers about Garikula. None of them have heard of it.

Back on the phone.

Martin: They don’t know where it is.

Rezo: Are you sure you’re in the right Akhalkalaki?

We relate this to the taxi drivers and they confirm that yes, there is another Akhalkalaki and that Garikula is probably close to that one. If we go to Akhaltsikhe we can catch an overnight train to Tbilisi and get off at 5am in Kaspi which is close to the other Akhalkalaki.

90 hair-raising minutes later, we arrive in Akhaltsikhe and head to the train station. Except it has no windows and the door is chained. A man selling watermelons tells us that this is ok. A couple of hours later the train arrives.

There’s only one carriage but the tickets are cheap. The only thing is the onboard policeman explains we can only have mattresses if we have a drink with him first…

Kaspi, at 5am, is cold. And it’s raining. We take a taxi to Akhalkalaki.

By 6.30am and the sun is up. We ask a man who is out on his veranda for directions. He knows where the house is but says it’s too early and we should come in out of the rain to keep warm. He gives us each a peach, a glass of wine and a large glass chacha. His two nephews and their friends are staying with him and one by one they appear. He explains that they’re having a barbecue and that we should join them. The fire’s already lit and it’s still raining…

He offers us a lift and we arrive at Art Villa Garikula at 11am. Just in time for breakfast.