Instead of Anatole
Film | Digital | Sound | 15" | Georgian and Russian | 2021
Instead of Anatole examines the history of a former Soviet-era power station through the abandoned archive of its final worker, a Russian war veteran who lived in difficult material conditions on the territory, often without water or electricity. Anatole disappeared several months before the opening of the 2021 installment of Oxygen Biennial, which was held in the place where he lived and worked. The film was screened on the concluding night of the exhibit.
Oxygen Biennial, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Film | Digital | Sound | 17" | Georgian | 2021
As a political and health crisis foments in the republic of Georgia, folk singers, winemakers and retired maths teachers attempt to restore harmony through practices that integrate ancestral knowledge.
Produced in the Stanford MFA Documentary Film and Video program.
First printed in 365 newspaper
I often find myself faltering when I’m asked to explain what my films are about. I find it much easier to explain how they came about — the consequences that shaped them, like the angles of geography that guide water to curve itself in a particular way.
My current film was germinated by the reminder of a childhood mythology. As a child, I always thought that the colorful mosaic that stood above the theatre on Vazha-Pshavela Avenue was the place that people visited when they fell asleep. Carried by the unvalidated conviction that tends to harbor in the minds of children, I thought the mosaic was called ‘Iavnana’, lullaby — the place of dreams. This perception was bolstered by the apparent inaccessibility of the structure in waking life. It had neither doors nor windows, only a hallucinatory, three-dimensional facade that was ornamented by pulsating forms.
As summer condensed into the sticky heat of August, I began to think about Georgia’s Soviet legacy in a localized sense. The theatre on Delisi was flanked by a long slab of temporary construction walling, a surface that was pasted reiteratively with posters of politician’s faces. Dig just a millimeter or two beneath, and you would uncover an archaeological site of expired political claims, battling with the other advertisements and expletives that tend to stack up in public space. I could never remember this wall not being there. Like much of the landscape of Tbilisi, the provisional had inadvertently become permanent.
Excerpt, printed on the occasion of pending upending, an exhibition by Kobby Adi at Goldsmith's CCA Gallery
Like something that would continue.
The sentence sits there in reserve, emphatically italic, and it sidles out as a cagey epilogue whenever I blink in doubt, whenever I pause to give any given thing a second thought.
It's been following me all week.
Pension schemes, like something that would continue. My mother, planting Cypress trees, like something that would continue. It's as flimsy as it is unyielding, a pretense that's continually shocked, beaten down, and bought anew; yet our compass is inclined to live as if it could always be true (as if, as if -- the imposition of continuity).
Now the poles that led the compass have come askew, and it's becoming clearer that nothing in this world exists in the places we have been directed to.
I'd like to issue a search warrant for the future we were told there was to be.
This present mode of thinking brings an unusual tenor to my memories -- I feel like the future that I leaned on in my past has collapsed into an irretrievable hologram. The memories themselves feel amputated, made unreal.
I miss the idea of a legacy; something you would want to get right. I also miss the future that was gestured to in the closing lines of children's stories. If time were read against the grain, could these moments exist if they didn't rise back from some future space? That's the wound to which I am trying to attend: that these stories, these life events, didn't proceed to be cut from the stem; that this was -- still is -- part and parcel with that future that gave that past shape.
I wonder how things would appear without the tacit presumption that they'd continue to be. How many singular things are out there that we might not see, because we were blinded by the will for continuity? How many last times have we unwittingly seen off with a shrug. How many first times are now quietly submerging us, because we are starved of the words by which to address them.
I wonder what happens if we lose our ability to project. If there is something good to be found there, it may be the experience of a novel sensitivity. No more reaching for things. You know, I have been loving the word ambivalent recently.
Maybe it's not the finitude of the world that's troubling, but its openness, its unfinishedness.
Regarding the tireless itinerary of construction that sprawled ahead of us, a friend of mine once asked:
"when will London be finished?"
Development notes, presented in Rachel Elizabeth Ashton's publication, On Butterflies, Moths, and Other Worldly Creatures, 2020
Improper Canning Procedures
Before words or continents, there were vowels without consonants.
The vowels would give rise in winces and in kisses (a! o!) -- in encyclopaedic tremors of breath,
in the knifelike warbles that emerged,
Like arithmetic between the flesh.
The early risers pass fruit and shards of light down to the forest floor.
Everything is made of small things, but some of them heap up.
As continents gathered, they clamored for consonance. The engine of sense began to contour air; it studied into air, and found it pliable. The vowels, ever fluid, were congruent to the shape of things.
As the consonants staccato'd over gulps of air, they sculpted intermittent differences everywhere.
We imagined what we were, and so we knew what the difference was.
I can't sleep and I'm crying over visions of dead insects. My mother says eschatology has always existed.
She says children can see ants better, they're closer to the ground.
She tells me there are plenty of fish left in the sea.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Til human voices wake us, and we drown.
-- T.S. Eliot
The brittle filaments of the citadel
Were only as fine as the scaffolding of the insect's spine.
Following the first involuntary sigh, the artefacts and insects reappeared.
The 7 day week was intercalated by vowels, curtains of loosening breath.
Unseen things began to reappear;
They remained unseen, and it was good.
Presented to accompany solo exhibition, The Cabinet, at Treignac Projet, France, 2020
Subdued beneath a fine layer of dust, the cabinet is a scene beyond its own appointment.
Perfectly still, the china lies unthought, delivered from carnality, and only monumental.
Only for the occasional glance does it perform: a solemn play of light, an affected bow,
a sequence of rehearsed images.
Formality reigns, setting a place for ideal forms that -- having never arrived -- are never considered gone.
This formality signs a contractual release for the hurried, irregular mass of living to go on.
The cabinet conserves the role of a drab paragon,
called to testify upon the release of a tension for perfection.
As far as anyone is concerned, they are as deaf, dumb, and as mute,
and as necessary, as icebergs.
Pause with the spirits of utility.
They are hard-heard and uneasy, like a draft beneath a door.
They belong to a world without mirrors, and deflect the gaze.
When their backs break, when they go to rest,
they take their final lodgings in the tide
— Just as one of a thousand things moving
gradually, without very much ceremony, from sight.
Film | Digital | Sound | 5" | Georgian | 2020
In the anonymous rooms of 5-star hotels in cities and resorts across Georgia, thousands of people have been learning what it means to be locked inside the same room for two weeks. These people live behind a veil; they sleep, they pace, they examine the life that exists beyond their window pane — perhaps exchanging furtive goods, or words of camaraderie with their floor-mates; those with whom they share lost time.
1412 received the juror's prize in the COVIDEO section of Batumi International Arthouse Film Festival.
It also featured as part of a video installation, Mementos from the 14th Floor, at Project Artbeat's Moving Gallery in Orbeliani Square, Tbilisi, 12-20 Sept 2020.
Digital | Sound | 9" | English & Georgian | 2020
(For Mamuka, who films the sunrise every morning from his home)
Internal Sun takes its cue from the 12 hour time difference between the filmmaker’s original home in Tbilisi, Georgia and the far-flung home that they established in Northern California during the state's first shelter-in-place order. Where one is bright, the other is invariably dark; the film dwells on this paradox of simultaneous opposition, convening both sides of the sun into a personal and improvised logic.
The Nocturnal Hum
16mm film, digitised | Sound | 5" | English | 2019
Production assistant | Michael T. Workman
"It's not a military secret. It's not the sanitation district. It's not the Army Corps of Engineers. It's not an extraterrestrial, a nuclear device, or a Russian submarine."
The Nocturnal Hum concerns the filmmaker's discovery of acoustic similarities between two forms of sound that are native to Northern California: the warble produced by foghorns as they guide ships in the bay to safety, and a resonant hum that is produced by toadfish during mating season. These sounds have undulated through the Bay Area for generations, perforating public and private space. The film is also about the visual similarities between fog and smoke, the signals that guide us, and the place of perceptual multiplicity in light of the increasingly unequivocal presence of climate change.
"As the world, and the fog attenuated, and the images grew — all too few, and too clear / The fish grew silent, and the signals did too / and it would, one day, become hard / to communicate the passage to safety"
Looping video installation | Sound | 25" | Georgian and English | 2018
Avirbin Chamovirbine explores grief through - among other things - the thread of a moth-eaten carpet, a grandmother’s visit to her parents’ graves, an ageing sculptor’s difficulty carving a portrait of his granddaughter, and the connection between sericulture and mortality.
The film is arranged somewhat like a song without a chorus. It offers a series of glimpses and suggestions, drawn up from an indentured feeling of longing and inconsolability.
Goldsmiths BAFA Degree Show, London, UK, June 2018
K'edeli (The Wall)
Split-screen video installation | Sound | 15" | Georgian | 2017
K'edeli shifts between two oral narratives based in the village of Surami, Georgia: one, a legend of the local village fortress, and the other a true, familial account of marital kidnap, as recounted by my grandparents at our kitchen table. The screens place these tales in equivalence, as they meditate on the ways collective fictions propagate through lived experience.
Treignac Projet, France, as part of Waiting to Speak, July 2018
Goldsmiths BAFA Degree Show, London, UK, June 2018