HUFFINGTON POST: Multimedia Reflections on Georgian Heritage and Identity

Huffington Post HERITAGE

Multimedia Reflections on Georgian Heritage and Identity.

by Katerina Zherebtsova


I have always been fascinated by Georgian culture. The sensuality, self irony, delicacy, tact and tradition – its neorealist qualities, brought to life with a unique cultural aesthetic, through the cinematic lense and prism of the arts. Georgian arts offer an encounter with a deep breathtaking narrative that any artbuff is so longing for – a challenging, intelligent conversation that ruffles the mind, warms the eye, and whips the thoughts.

This is why ‘HERITAGE’, the multimedia art project by cARTveli Art foundation in collaboration with RichMix and Dash Arts, has been long awaited and received with the high acclaim by the London’s art scene, as well as long term celebrity supporters like Katie Melua.

“Without critically analysing our past, we can’t start something new”, says Levan Mindiashvili, multimedia artist, who created the concept for the HERITAGE exhibition and invited other artists, whose work is a dialogue between their past and their current environment, to participate.


Levan’s work Archives depicts the mentality of the transitional generation, who were left to piece together an identity from an array of opposing influences, like that of the communist childhood and the Westernised present. “The way history was taught at Georgian schools, was always a mixture of morbid war details and adoration of death, fascination of battle and sacrificing your life for your country,” comments Levan. “This image was so strong for me: red, blood, the person has to die for the country”.

The end of the communist era brought with it the instant westernisation of Georgian culture, as contrast to everything communist, it filled every pore of society with new references, consumer goods and its manifests of freedom. But transitions like this can’t happen suddenly argues Levan. “You can’t just erase the past and refuse to recognise the mentality and values that you were brought up with. It’s not an instant process to recognise that, but now enough time has passed, to take a critical look”.

Archives portray the past and present, interwoven by a juxtaposition of communist references and customised IKEA lightboxes, IKEA being the signifier and the ultimate idea of the West. The symbolic objects that relate to the history of the country: bible, icon, small pioneer leader doll and bloodied body parts of feet and fists which were cast from Levan’s father are placed on top of archive papers with notes, yet which are unreadable, erased, existing only as paper. All the body parts were cast from Levan’s father and the facemask is of Levan himself. “This is how traditions are passed in Georgia, from father to son, it is a big part of our identity and culture and I wanted to capture that”.


Levan says that his own moment of truth was going to study abroad to Argentina. “Who am I, where do I come from, how can I relate to a different culture? My works during these three years were around the past. The distance helps you a lot to think and analyse. When I was living in Georgia, I really was feeling the urge to leave the country, I needed to see and experience other things. Now when I’m coming back to Georgia or I’m working on something related to it, I feel closer to it, I am more conscious about my culture”.

One of his other works for the exhibition is the map of Tbilisi from 1927 – full of green – a mythologised version from the communist time that Levan remembers from his childhood years. This work starts a new series, which are in the making, of studying contemporary urbanisation and its effects on the citizens. ” I believe that architecture depicts how a country is developing, with historical influences being most pronounced in building construction. I want to use Tbilisi as a metaphor and talk about universal problems and questions”.

Urban structures is a theme running through Irakli Bugiani’s paintings for HERITAGE, who studied old photo archives of soviet and post soviet structures across cities and countries, to find that they are identical in their presence. His works, Sovieticum, explore the dynamics between the buildings and the environment, the effect of the omnipresent faceless architecture and towering concrete. My personal view – Feelings of grounded predictability and other forms of entrapment by architecture.




Feelings of entrapment are echoed by Tato, the only artist from this group, who is still residing in Tbilisi. Tato’s ‘Conversations’ are a metaphor of a mental state in which the previous generations have lived in – without way out or an exit. They are not really conversations as such, but a monologue with the self. A monologue of life without an exit, surrounded by concrete and looking at life through a hole, or from an empty swimming pool – a condition which haunts generations and doesn’t offer the distance needed to facilitate a conversation.





Uta Bekaia’s works are a study of traditions, biological, genetic heritage, everything we inherit on an unconscious level, without being influenced by historical events. His work Fua Sia Tata Sia is inspired by the Mingrelian spells performed by his grandmother. Bekaia, according to Levan, is fascinated by these traditions and value codes that are built into us by family rituals. This particular spell is reproduced exactly as performed by his grandmother, when in his child years Bekaia was loosing his tooth. The work is presented in two parts: a tapestry depicting the tooth and the embroidery of the spell with the letterings provided by Uta’s mother, word for word, as told to her by her mother. There is something incredibly sacred and full of energy about this work.



Sacralisation of the past is the theme of Christian Tonhaiser’s works. The only non-Georgian, Tonhaiser comes from Argentina, but with a rich European heritage. Tonhaiser presents twelve objects – photographs enclosed into antique frames. At first glance the commonality between them is unclear. Yet, a closer look reveals precious moments from the family archive, depicting special milestones: first photograph of his grandmother, which she sent to her future husband in Argentina (handwritten on the back, to my beloved husband whom I’m looking forward to meet). His first serious love, his childhood toy. The photographs placed in antique frames are reminiscent of sacred icons, and a curious study into an individual’s search for an identity through his past, shaped by the family archive.


The opening of the exhibition screened a diploma film by Tamuna Karumidze, Zahesi 708 (2001). A week in Tbilisi follows its inhabitants through their daily life – a neorealist tribute and a curious one to watch and admire, which vividly depicts the conflicts of the transitional mentality, which Levan mentions in his works.


It seems, heritage cannot be understood from the boundaries of a single country, increasingly it’s a wider debate, as our lives go through so many transitions and changes. By opening this field, HERITAGE starts a critical conversation about the variety of points of references for our identities, from socio economic, to mystic and educational.

“People just receive their reality, they are not aware that they are responsible for their life. It’s not an inert process. Any change can be started by critical approach to the past, says Levan.”

HERITAGE first edition, as Levan refers to it, took place at the National Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi in November 2013. From 7-31 January 2015, HERITAGE 2 came to London’s Rich Mix, with each artist creating a special work with references that could be more easily understood by a foreign audience. Levan is currently working on taking HERITAGE to New York.

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HERITAGE at Rich Mix, London

cARTveli Art foundation in collaboration with RichMix and Dash Arts is pleased to present
multimedia art project Heritage.

Exhibition Preview: January 7, 6:30 – 7:30pm
Screening of Tamuna Karumidze’s movie Zahesi 708, 6:30 – 7:30pm
Q&A with curator hosted by Dash Arts Artistic Director Josephine Burton 7:30-8:00pm
Live Music performed by Theko Parajanov 8:00 – 8:30pm
Aferparty 8:30pm – 12 am

RichMix 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E16LA


HERITAGE presents collaboration between Levan Mindiashvili, Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Uta Bekaia, Irakli Bugiani and Cristian Tonhaiser. Long-time collaborators, the artists embarked on a investigation into historical, social and cultural constructions and how these make up integral parts of the biological, mental and physical heritage of an individual. Levan Mindiashvili, who dedicates his oeuvre to the question of identity, developed the concept for the exhibition. A Georgian by birth, it was natural for him to address and muse on the identity of his homeland, which is in an active process of redefining itself, and similar to most Post Soviet countries, struggles with a disintegrated and at times conflicting value system. Irakli Bugiani, much interested in collective memory, researches Soviet Architecture and is confident that the built environment plays a crucial role in shaping of the psyche. Tato Akhalkatsishvili concentrates on the claustrophobic feeling of inescapability, the leitmotif of his generation’s teenage years, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Uta Bekaia, making a conscious decision to remove himself from a specific historical context, explores the concept of Heritage from a universal perspective and the cyclical nature of human experiences. Cristian Tonhaiser, inspired by Argentinean poet Alejandra Pizarnik contemplates family relations and sacralizes these ties. There is a dynamic interplay between private and public, personal and universal, empathic and cruel in the way these artists approach and investigate the notion of Past. Mindiashvili, Bugiani and Akhalkatsishvili each address the recent past of Georgia, late Soviet times and early independence years; loaded histories of disappointment, malfunction and at times stagnation. The exhibition aims at awakening the urge for self-reflection and critical evaluation of social and cultural experiences and their place in the shaping of individual perceptions.

The opening of the exhibition will screen a film by Tamuna Karumidze, Zahesi 708 (2001)
and a video performance Fuasia Tatasia by Uta Bekaia.

Zahersi 708 is a diploma piece for Karumidze’s Audio/Video media Design course that captures a week in Tbilisi in 1990s. The documentary footage depicts jagged life of the city- the streets, house parties, fashion shows, endless faces of people just hanging around. A combination of sentimental, vibrant, ugly, lovely and at times not so much, the film portrays the charm of Tbilisi, forever confused and absurd.

Uta Bekaia reinterprets a pagan spell, Fusia Tatasia performed to heal and dispel evil spirits that was often practiced by the artist’s Mingrelian (region in Georgia) grandmother. The androgynous figures fight, dance and pray for one’s better luck.



Tato Akhalkatishvili Born in Tbilisi in 1979, where he currently lives and produces his art. After graduating from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 2003 he started exhibiting his works on international art fairs, solo and group exhibitions and projects in the United States, Japan, Europe and Georgia. He is the winner of several national and international art prizes, among them are two 1st Prizes at the International art Fairs in 2005 and 2007 (Both Germany together with the “Figurative Art Studio”) and the 3rd Prize for the best painting at The Winter Salon of The National Gallery of Georgia. His works are kept in private collections worldwide.

Uta Bekaia A New York based multimedia artist and designer, born in Tbilisi in 1974. He graduated from Mtsire Akademia as industrial designer and debuted as artist at Tbilisi Avant-Garde Fashion Assembly (AMA) in 1998 with his first art/fashion collection. Since 1998 he has lived and worked in New York City. Uta has worked on numerous theater and movie projects as art director and costume designer. He creates wearable sculptures for performances and multimedia installations. Bekaia has participated in art fairs and fashion weeks in New York (US), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Toronto (Canada), Paris (France), Maastricht (Holland), Brighton (UK) and Berlin (Germany). His creations have been reviewed in publications including The Village Voice, Time Out New York and The Wall Street Journal.

Irakli Bugiani Born in Tbilisi in 1980. In 1998 / 2001 he studied at Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. In 2001 he moved to Germany to study at The State Academy of Fine Arts of Karlsruhe (Graduated in 2006). He obtained a master degree in Art History at Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf (2010), where he currently resides. He has held five solo shows in Germany and Croatia. Among his awards are the Portrait Prize of Freiburg University (Germany), Artist Stipend of the City of Dusseldorf (Germany), Residency at AZ Gallery, Zagreb (Croatia) and Kunstpreis Junger Westen, Kunsthalle Recklinghausen

Tamuna Karumidze Multimedia artist was born in Tbilisi in 1975 where she currently lives and works. She had obtained a Master Degree of Audio/Video media Design at The University of Arts of Berlin (Germany) in 2008. Her main field is a video / underground cinema which she explores to create installations and environments. Her works have been screened at various International Film Festivals, Art Forums and Exhibitions in Germany, Georgia, Netherlands, Austria, France and Switzerland. Besides her personal projects, she had worked as an assistant director at various movies, such as ‘Chantrapas” of Otar Ioseliani, ‘Game” of Nika Machaidze, ‘Triger Tiger’ of Salome Machaidze, etc.

Levan Mindiashvili A multimedia artist and independent curator, born in Tbilisi in 1979. He currently lives between New York (US) and Buenos Aires (Argentina). After graduating from Tbilisi Sate Academy of Art in 2003, he started exhibiting his works and participating in various art events/art fairs throughout Europe, Latin America, United States and Georgia. In 2010 he obtained MA degree in Cross Media Arts at Buenos Aires National University of Arts (IUNA). During 2009-2012 he worked as a curator at Laguanacazul Art Gallery (Buenos Aires), organizing art projects involving local and foreign artists. During the same period he performed at the experimental theater company Ensamble Caustico (Buenos Aires). Among his awards are FABLES Commission Grant for Public Art Project, New York City (US, 2014), Movistar Emerging Artist of 2011 (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and the 3rd Prize for Drawing at the Salon Museo Metropolitano (Buenos Aires, 2010).

Cristian Tonhaiser A Photographer and video artist born in Buenos Aires in 1966. He studied graphic design at the National University of Buenos Aires where later on he was teaching for two years. His debut as a photographer at the 1st Biennale of Young Art was awarded with the First Prize. He exhibits his works extensively in Argentina, US, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Canada and Georgia. In 2010 and 2011 he was commissioned video art pieces for the curator’s Carte Blanche screenings at The Festival of Photography and Video Art (AVIFF) in Cannes (France).


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We would like to thank the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, TBC Bank, ARDI Insurance Company, NES Gallery and private donors for their support.

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Levan Mindiashvili Recent Works

Levan Mindiashvili Recent Works contains two main series Levan has being developing for last few years: “Urban Identities” and “Studies for Shared Privacies”. Updated portfolio with some works not exhibited yet.
Texts include a conversation with Elene Kapanadze and Lika Tarkhan-Mouravi (in English) and excerpt from “Urban Identities” by Dr. Wolfgang Till Busse (in German), written for the catalogue of Levan’s first solo show at Kunstraub99, Cologne.

Softcover Paperback: 38 pages
Publisher: Self Published (Blurb, December 1, 2014)
Language: English, German
Dimensions: 8 x 10 inches (20 x 25 cm)

Crossing The Boundaries.03 | AT388 Rotterdam



Tato Akhalkatsishvili
Uta Bekaia
Irakli Bugiani
Levan Mindiashvili
Cristian Tonhaiser

AT388 is pleased to announce the second edition of Crossing The Boundaries – a series of group exhibitions co-curated by Levan Mindiashvili – exploring the limits within different artistic expressions and concepts. Participating artists Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Uta Bekaia, Irakli Bugiani, Levan Mindiashvili and Cristian Tonhaiser are working with topics such as Identity and Memory. These artists are investigating social and cultural structures that influence formation of our Identity and comunal memory that marks our perception and worldview.

Opening reception: Sunday, June 22, 5 pm.
The show is on display until July 27.

Lodewijk Pincoffsweg 388, 3071 AS Rotterdam, Netherlands
T. 0103410771 | 0643922379
Gallery Hours: Wed – Sat 2 to 6 pm and by appointment.

Mural “GHOST” at Ideal Glass presented by FAB NYC

Levan Mindiashvili GHOST

Levan Mindiashvili GHOST, 2014
Presented by Fourth Arts Block
in partnership with Ideal Glass This project is part of FABLES, a series of public works exploring Lower East Side History.

Levan Mindiashvili, whose project investigates gentrification and its effects on architecture and sense of place, describes, “With the mural ‘Ghost’ I want to contribute to a raising awareness in the importance of historical heritage and outline the overwhelming expansion of gentrification and generalization in the contemporary world.”

The work is based on original photograph of 1936 “East Houston Street – N.E. Corner – Second Avenue” by Percy Loomis Sperr © Milstein Division, The New York Public Library.

Author wants toE HOUSTON express Special Thanks to Patricio Gonzalez Vivo for his contribution with technical support.
FABLES is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts/ Art Works. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in participation with The City Council.

FABLES: A Public Art Project Launch

Levan Mindiashvili_FABLES

a public art project
April-August 2014

Opening Reception
13 E 1st Street
Monday, June 9 @ 5:30-7:30PM
To celebrate the launch of our five FABLES artists/teams and sites, we invite you to join us at L’Apicio on Monday, June 9th from 5:30-7:30PM. L’Apicio will be providing $5 cocktails and our Director of Public Art, Keith Schweitzer, will be offering tours of the sites featuring the work of Lexi Bella, Tamara Gayer, Theresa Loong & Laura Nova, Levan Mindiashvili, Miguel Trelles & Juan Fernando Morales-Nazario.

On Monday, June 9th, FABnyc will celebrate the successful installation and opening of five visual art projects through their FABLES public art program with the artists, partners, and public. After an open call for work, FABLES presents five artists/teams who created public art works that explore the Lower East Side’s living cultural heritage, rich historical legacies, and current issues in public storytelling through visual art.

Lexi Bella’s Heroines of the Lower East Side focuses on notable, yet under recognized women of the LES from The Russ Sisters to Rosario Dawson. “It is my heart, my home, and the birthplace of my daughter. I am so excited to express, educate, and pay homage through my art to the great women who are the past and the future of my favorite part of NYC.”
Location: Centre-Fuge, East 1st Street near First Avenue

Theresa Loong and Laura Nova’s Feed Me a Story consists of food stories gathered in part from their work at the LaGuardia Senior Center, shared with the public through visual installations that link to audio and video of the participants. “We are thrilled to be a part of the FABLES Exhibition. This project enables us to shine a spotlight on senior citizens and reflect diverse tastes and traditions in the neighborhood.”
Location: First Park, Houston between First & Second Avenues

Levan Mindiashvili’s Ghost investigates gentrification and its effects on architecture and sense of place. “With the mural ‘Ghost’ I want to contribute to a raising awareness in the importance of historical heritage and outline the overwhelming expansion of gentrification and generalization in the contemporary world.”
Location: Ideal Glass, 22 East 2nd Street

Tamara Gayer’s Who Needs Honey When Sugar is Sweet draws inspiration from Yiddish theater to create works in stained glass style that span the storefront windows of City Lore and L’Apicio. The artist explains, “First Street between First and Second Avenue is a beautiful block, exemplary of the diversity and history that are still evident on the Lower East Side.”
Location: City Lore, 56 East 1st Street / L’Apicio, 13 East 1st Street

Miguel Trelles and Juan Fernando Morales-Nazario’s Posters on the Wall: Our Nuyorican Story, is built from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies extensive image archive from the 1960s through the 1990s. According to the artists and curators, the exhibit “lavishly illustrates the cosmopolitan sophistication of Puerto Rican artists in New York amalgamating traditional Puerto Rican culture with life and activism in the City.”
Location: First Park, Houston between First & Second Avenues

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts/ Art Works and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in participation with The City Council. FABLES is presented in celebration of LES History month, the inaugural celebration of the rich and diverse history of the LES, taking place during May.

more info:


image: Levan Mindiashvili GHOST, location: Ideal Glass, 22 E 2nd Str, NYC 10003

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 1.39.17 AM






BENEFIT EVENING: Tuesday May 27th from 7-9pm
Kunsthalle Galapagos, 16 Main St, Dumbo Brooklyn



(New York City, May 20, 2014) WAGMAG, the essential free Brooklyn monthly which promotes all things art, will host its 13th annual benefit next Tuesday, May 27th at Kunsthalle Galapagos Art Space from 7 – 9pm. This exceptional event will feature over 100 available artworks, and is attended by a contingency of curators, press and high profile collectors who support this amazing publication and the Brooklyn arts community.

For the third year in a row, Fountain Art Fair is pleased to curate several artworks into the auction, representing fresh perspectives from Brooklyn to Tel Aviv to Amsterdam.  Fountain and WAGMAG’s 2014 winners are: Alice Mizrachi (Queens, NY), Brian Leo (New York, NY), Dede (Tel Aviv), Kendra Heisler, Brooklyn, NY), Marthalicia Matarrita (New York, NY), Levan Mindiashvili (Brooklyn, NY) and Franciscus & Franciscus (Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Levan Mindiashvili _ WAGMAG

All proceeds will go towards the operation and production of WAGMAG, Brooklyn Art Guide.



Amanda Alic: Fuseworks

Daniel Aycock: WAGMAG

Aimee Chan Lindquist: Art in General

Ethan Crenson: Fuseworks

Alicia Ehni: Frederico Seve Gallery

Enrico Gomez: Parallel Arts

Nasa Hadizadeh: Cultured Productions

Randall Harris: Figureworks

Mandy Kalajian: Mirrorball

David Kesting: Fountain Art Fair

Lisa Kim: Two Trees

Lisa Levy: Artist

Rob De Oude: Parallel Arts

Stephen Mallon: Artist

Karen Marston: NURTUREart

Melissa McCaig-Welles: McCaig-Welles Gallery

Jill McDermid: Grace Exhibition Space

Julie McKim: Kunsthalle Galapagos

Charlotte Mouquin: Corridor Gallery/Rush Arts

Ellen Rand: Art 101

Elizabeth Tully: Fountain Art Fair

Miho Suzuki: Artist

Kathleen Vance: Front Room Gallery

Susie Watkins: Professional Organizer

Monika Wuhrer: Open Source Gallery


Fountain Art Fair 2014

Levan Mindiashvili Fountain2014

Fountain Art Fair
at The 69th Regiment Armory
(Lexington Ave. & 26th Street) NY

March 7-9, 2014

In Partnership with Art Front

VIP Preview to benefit the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts)



Friday, March 7

12 – 7pm: VIP/Press Preview (Open to the public)

7pm – Midnight: Opening Night Reception

Saturday, March 8

12 – 7pm: Open to the public
7pm – Midnight: Saturday Night Event

Sunday, March 9

12 – 5pm : Open to the Public


purchase tickets here


Yvonne Jaquette, Levan Mindiashvili and New York Cityscapes

The View from Above

John Haber in New York City

Yvonne Jacquette, Levan Mindiashvili, and William Steiger, Rod Penner, Domingo Milella, and Antonio Murado

After all these years, one would think that I should know New York. Yvonne Jacquette and Levan Mindiashvili have other ideas, in lovingly unfamiliar paintings. William Steiger, with a special eye to Brooklyn and Queens, while Rod Penner brings something of the same eye to crossing America. Domingo Milella and Antonio Murado put the problem of retaining a sense of place in global terms, with work that treats expanding cities, cemeteries, and Northern Romanticism on equal terms.

Each approaches common ground from an unusual vantage point, from which it can hardly look stranger or more inviting. They refresh the scene, while also insisting on the perils of objectivity or detachment.They might even suit a city that is always new. For better or for worse, they also in effect turn a painter or a native into a tourist, and you know what tourists are like around the holidays. Still, the realities of vision and urban decay have a way of intruding, as if from last worlds. Is it coincidence that one visitor to New York is from Canada and another from the Republic of Georgia?


Levan Mindiashvili, too, looks to the sky and to the distance. Maybe New York is necessarily remote to an artist from the Republic of Georgia—still living, as the show’s title has it, on “Borderlines.” He sees it at more than one remove, in reflections off the glass of otherwise unseen buildings. The glass imposes a grid on massive old stone, but not that of the older windows themselves, much less abstraction. Working in acrylic, oil pencil, and charcoal, Mindiashvili then adds further color and line for traces of sunlight. Old stone can take on the crispness of commercial architecture or jiggle in its ad hoc mirror.

Here the unfamiliarity is only partly a matter of space, although the corner point of view for the older buildings contrasts with their compression into the grid. It is also a matter of time. One has the past time of the urban history, the present time of vision, and the future time of painting and architecture under construction. Mindiashvili may leave portions of the canvas schematic or empty, like blueprints. The grid belongs at once to another façade, to the picture plane, and to me. But then I am biased, because they are still my New York.

One could dismiss work like this as eye candy—and the conceptual overlay as a fashionable breaking down of genres. And these artists may well ask to rediscover the city as a tourist, without regard for dirty details. Jacquette’s Whitney stands largely apart from the politics of museum expansions, her Hudson Yards apart from gentrification, and her NYU apart from the impact of its growing empire on the neighborhood. Hers is not the gritty waterfront of George Bellows by any means. That kind of cynicism would be a mistake, when painting can hint at that view from above in translating landscape for the city. Who knew that the mirror onto nature would be the side of a building?



full article: here

Yvonne Jacquette ran at D. C. Moore through February 8, 2014, Levan Mindiashvili at Lodge through February 4. Rod Penner ran at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe through November 23, 2013, William Steiger at Margaret Thatcher Projects through December 14, Domingo Milella at Tracy Williams, Ltd. through December 21, and Antonio Murado atvon Lintel through December 7.