2019 Marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of the new, globalized world history. 2019 also marks another 30th anniversary - of April 9th of 1989 - when the anti-Soviet demonstration on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, was dispersed by the Soviet Army, resulting in 21 deaths and hundreds of injuries. That day marked the tormented and painful process of independence of Georgia and the formation of its democratic republic. These two events once again remind us that in today's globalized world, it is impossible to separate private from the global and how personal is intricately interconnected with political and vice versa.
"89.19" is a non-linear timeline that doesn't aim to analyze or comment on those political events directly, nor on the three decades that separate them from us. It situates the viewer in the most recent "now" of Georgia (and indirectly of every "new" emerging scene), that is so enthusiastically accepted and labeled as "das Neue Berlin" of eastern Europe for its thriving night-life, unapologetic fashion and emerging contemporary art scene. Responding to the exhausted western methods of cultural labeling, "89.19" outlines the socio-political context of the current cultural revival of Georgia, and particularly the role of dance as a form of political activism. If we agree on the initial concept of "culture" "as an agent for change [...] as a navigation tool to steer social evolution towards a universal human condition" (Zygmunt Bauman "Culture in a Liquid Modern World") undoubtedly we have to credit the early years of Cafe Gallery and later on, nightclubs Bassiani, and Khidi, for bringing together previously dispersed social groups together, for creating a safe space for self-expression, and a community based on acceptance and diversity. "89.19" also questions the idea of history as one solid, mainstream narrative, and instead proposes a fluid construct that can be re-arranged, re-constructed, and re-interpreted on a very personal level.
Structurally "89.19" is formed by three parts: first seven pieces are the archives of 1989: the numbers refer to the dates of the events and the iconic archival images. The second part also contains seven pieces: German article labeling Tbilisi as new Berlin, the time when Georgian government raided Tbilisi's clubs that actually only exposed their influence and role for the society, and architectural renderings of the clubs themselves. The third part consists of numbers, referencing to the most recent political turmoils in the country this summer, ironically outlining the cyclical nature of our history.