Connecting Georgia (2019-2020) is an artist-led project exploring post-industrial waterfront heritage in the context of urban planning and community development and connects the city of Batumi with other European cities .The project is connected to the Creative Europe funded project Memory of Water that gathers six partners in Europe and is funded by the Swedish Institute, Third Country Participation in the Baltic Sea region.
Batumi in Georgia is a fast-developing city on the Black Sea coast. During the last decades the city’s cultural heritage, especially in the Old Town, is suffering from the results of rapid development, and the history and the cultural memories are slowly disappearing. It is a vital challenge for Batumi to embrace the urban development and find tools for safeguarding the history of the city. This discourse is ongoing in partner cities of the Creative Europe partnership Memory of Water, especially in Gdansk in Poland where the discourse about the post-industrial heritage area of the Old Shipyard/ Young City has been intensified during the last two years. This has also been observed in Port of Lindholmen, Gothenburg & Port of Stockholm in Sweden and Govan Docks in Scotland, which are other examples of cities with rapid urban transformation affecting post-industrial cultural heritage as result. These shared challenges and experiences made the partners wish to connect Batumi to the ongoing artistic project Memory of Water.
Read more here about Batumi’s challenges regarding the preservation of cultural heritage, and about areas in Batumi important for the history and collective memory of the city.
By engaging artists in Stockholm and Batumi in co-creation and exploration, Connecting Georgia intends to include Batumi in a bigger international dialogue on the challenges of urban planning and city development in waterfront cities with post-industrial cultural heritage. It was planned to also include creative residency of two Swedish artists, curated by artistic duo SIMKA, in Batumi (Georgia) but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan was altered to include more digital exchange of ideas and exposure. The project aims to explore the impact that artists can have on post-industrial waterfront heritage planning.
Connecting Georgia between Batumi and Stockholm (2020)
At the ongoing stage of the project, 5 artists from Stockholm and 5 artists from Batumi are collaborating virtually and exchanging ideas and experiences. Each artist will develop an artistic intervention that explores the post-industrial cultural heritage, social sustainability and urban development. The project will close with a city lab in each city– a place where citizens, artists, experts, NGO’s and the public sector can come together to co-create ideas, tools and technologies that will address local challenges in a European context.
The artists in Batumi will address the above-mentioned issues and create their artistic project based on how they perceive the city, its heritage and further development processes while providing their artistic vision as an input. The major focus of the Batumi artists will be:
- Cultural heritage related to film production: One part of the artists will work with the tools of film and photography to examine and research old buildings that represent landmarks of cultural heritage and film heritage, as some well-known films from the Georgian cinema history were shot there.
The city of Batumi aims in long-term not only to be a touristic destination, but with attempts of local Ministry of Culture and Georgian National Film Centre, also be promoted as an attractive place for film shooting. That way, buildings of cultural heritage could be preserved as interesting venues for film production.
With their research and documentation, the artists want to highlight the importance of researched cultural heritage places and their potential to serve as future filming locations.
- Seaside and shipyard: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Batumi’s shipyard and ship building plant were demolished. Only a passenger seaport and some cargo terminals remained to the present day. One of the artists will be focusing on the shipyard stories and transform them into a photographic project by researching and interviewing the people who worked in the shipyard. The series of photographies will tell the story of urban development on Batumi’s seafront and how it was transforming the life of people working in shipyards.
Further artistic projects in Batumi will be focusing on visual art/ musical performance and painting/sketches related to the Cultural heritage and the seaside.
The Stockholm artists will focus on Norra Hammarby, Tegelvikshamnen and Stadsgården, which are port areas in the process of being transformed into something new. They will explore these places with the eye and comprehension of the artist by raising questions, changing points of view, engaging all senses and doing silent walks as an exploration of the sites. The artistic research can result in installations, performances, texts, sound works etc. which will be presented to the public on October 25th 2020.
Find the events to artistic presentations from Stockholm and Batumi on Intercult’s Facebook page.
Connecting Georgia (2019-2020) is an artistic project that aims at developing and discussing tools that can be helpful to tackle the challenges for sites with post-industrial cultural heritage.
Irakli Dznealdze, photographer
Giorgi Gogiberidz, painter, director, photographer and screen writer
Shota Gujabidze, photographer, film director and city activist
Zaira Nadirashvili, visual artist and photographer
Levan Tsulukidze, musician, multi-media artist, painter
with organiser Zviad Eliziani, Batumi International Art-house Film Festival (BIAFF)
With support from the Swedish Institute