XVII Century Fridge
Text by Salome Papashvili
Collaborated w/ Tiko Imnadze and Sandro Pachuashvili
XVII CENTURY FRIDGE, 2022 is a site-specific installation comprising three standalone pieces conceptually interwoven through their temporal, spatial and societal significance. The site, with its particular characteristics and the three elements housed within it, all come together to explore the ideas of shared spaces as places of utility, the adaptation of their purpose, and the significance of historical and environmental preservation. The installation invites viewers to reflect upon the juxtaposition of the old, the new and the yet unknown.
The idea of locality is instrumental as the exhibition is rooted in the context of the city of Tbilisi as a place inhabited by people whose lives are directly impacted and moulded by changes in their surroundings. The site chosen for the piece speaks to the continuous adaptation of the city driven by the temporal demands of society and commerce. Visible in some of the earliest cartographic depictions of Tbilisi, Lado Gudiashvili Square has assumed new names and purposes with remarkable flexibility throughout its existence. The underground space lending itself to this installation is located on this centuries-old, continuously utilised public square. Recent rehabilitation works on this location unearthed structures of archaeological significance dated from around the 17th century. The purpose of these structures is ascertained to have been storage of produce and other perishable goods in cool conditions, a sort of a 17th-century refrigerator.
The exhibition’s title is informed by the archaeological find with which the show’s components share a space. The modern term “fridge” denotes an artefact from a time when the technology identified today with the concept of cooling and preservation was not yet in existence. This term is intended to prompt contemplation of the concept of time. Objects exhibited hold individual temporal values and are tied together through their original purposes, all pertaining to public gathering and utility. A portable toilet housing a holographic representation of a foetus clutching a petrol canister is, by design, the first and last object to be encountered. Opposite the toilet, perched atop the XVII century structure, is an illuminated acrylic storefront sign spelling out “Carrfur”, referencing one of the major supermarket chains in the country. This piece precipitates the likely assumption of a centuries-old monument for a commercial purpose, reflecting on the prevailing tendencies to disregard the historical and cultural significance of spaces throughout the country. In the bowels of the installation site rests a found object in the form of a monumental deconstructed and reinterpreted paper-mâché bust of Vladimir Lenin. The bust was a piece of stage decoration for Soviet parades. However, simultaneously, it represented a potent symbol of the regime that brought thousands of people together in shared spaces, such as Soviet squares, designed explicitly for mass gatherings. Later, the bust was home to a wasp hive, now deserted. Each piece addresses the overarching themes of the exhibitions and simultaneously prompts consideration of issues such as urban development and preservation, environmental degradation, and perils of uncurbed consumerism.
Lado Gudiashvili square 7/2 basement
Supported by CH64 Gallery
Photo Documentation by Sandro Sulaberidze,Konstantin Timm, Mariam Giunashvili