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 last decades there was a tendency of smashing part of old heritage to invest in constructing apartment buildings, mainly targeting foreign customers. The city’s cultural heritage, especially in the Old Town, is suffering from results of “development”, taking into account only the interests of developers, slowly destroying the history and the memories with no plans on preserving history. Some buildings are gone and some still under risk , but due to some active citizen groups still guarded. This is tough and vital issue for BATUMI, to embrace urban development and find tools for safeguarding history. This discourse is ongoing in partner cities of Memory of Water, especially in Gdansk with the discourse about post industrial area of Young City, Port Stockholm and Port Gothenburg are examples of rapid urban transformation with lost heritage as result.
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.
5 artists from Stockholm and 5 artists from Batumi collaborated virtually and exchanged ideas and experiences. Each artist developed an artistic intervention that explores the post-industrial cultural heritage, social sustainability and urban development. The project closes 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 addresses local challenges in a European context.