Tbilisi Eliava Bazaar

Tire Totems 2012
This public project, part of Artisterium and Streetwise, was a collaboration with Eliava tire merchant Zakhro, artist assistant and translator Eli Valaite and students from Tbilisi Art Academy.

The Protest that Never Ends
Artisterium 2012
The Artisterium V, the annual international contemporary art exhibition and series of public art events, opened in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on October 5th, and runs through October 15, 2012.

The theme of the 2012 Artisterium V is “The Protest that Never Ends”. This theme offers an opportunity to research and showcase artistic and theoretical reflections on a wide range of PROTEST forms that we are currently experiencing globally. The show aims to provide a platform to explore what is worth protesting and how a creative work can become a “catalyst for changes”.

Curated by Lydia Matthews (co-sponsored by the US Embassy in Tbilisi and the Curatorial Design Research Lab at Parsons The New School for Design, New York, USA)
Streetwise features seven artists/artist collectives from New York and California whose diverse projects in the public sphere have earned critical and popular acclaim. From large scale muralists with roots in graffiti art, to hip hop musician/writers, to artists who transformed a filthy city alley into a lush forested community park, to eco-oriented textile designers working in urban farmer’s markets, to researchers who facilitate virtual and actual cross-cultural think tanks aimed at solving problems in people’s daily lives–these artists understand the value of wisdom that can be generated by working with others to actively re-negotiate the urban environment. Streetwise highlights projects from the United States, but it also creates a platform to catalyze broader dialogues about new forms of participatory public art practice that are already emerging in the Republic of Georgia. It is meant to provoke the following question: what forms of knowledge can artists and designers use to re- envision their local environment, re-shaping it into a more vital, socially just and ecologically balanced place?
During Artisterium, Streetwise artists will work closely with local designers, artists, cultural activists, as well as Georgians they meet on the streets—to imagine interventions within the Eliava neighborhood and establish an international network for an ongoing exchange of creative knowledge. Georgian artistic collaborators include students/faculty from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and the Center for Contemporary Art Tbilisi, artists from the Fleet Group, Urban Reactor, Group Bouillon, the Georgian textile Group, the State Silk Museum, la Maison Bleue, artists recently involved in “Batumi Backyards project,” as well as the Eliava Group project team. They will engage two sites: Artisterium’s Karvalsa Gallery and the Eliava neighborhood. Between Oct. 6-13th, U.S. artists will offer public talks, educational workshops and opportunities to co-design site-specific works within Eliava Bazaar. The project explores what it means to be “street-wise”, emphasizing open-ended, cross-cultural exchange and a spirit of subversive play.