Friday, February 8, 2013

Maka Batiashvili Transforms a Bomb into a Bird

What can a statue be made of? Bronze? Marble? Stone? Clay? Yes, but Georgian artist Maka Batiashvili has decided to use bomb shells.  

“When everything calmed down after the war I contacted my friend David Andguladze, who was Deputy Minister of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport and was in Gori during the war, as I had the idea to create some installation made out of bomb fragments. I asked him if he had some which had fallen in Gori,” she recalls in an interview.  

Andguladze revealed that he had a piece of a bomb which had fallen in the courtyard of Gori Theatre Batiashvili and had ben given it as a “present.” He gave this exploded bomb to Maka, who created her first installation - a “bird.”

“At first I did not know what I could make from it as it was not big, just 44 cm. across, and I also had a terrible feeling when looking at it as it had Russian writing on it,” the artist explained. However she suddenly saw a bird in it. Then she remembered that a bird is associated with peace and she wanted to create good from something evil.

Maka said the sides of the bomb fragment had taken the shape of wings and she didn’t need to change these, only the head and the tail. “I didn’t want to paint something on this theme because  I wanted to express the war theme by means of an installation. This bird is not only a symbol of peace for me, but I imagined that when it fell its pieces fell like birds,” she said.

She was greatly surprised when people contacted her wanting to buy this figure and ironically the first prospective buyer was a Russian collector. But Batiashvili is not going to sell it. Furthermore, as this work got a great reaction from the public she didn’t want to advertise herself through something associated with trouble and war. Thus she kept it in her studio. However her bird was printed on T-shirts and sold in almost all the cities of England during a folklore festival. Many English friends contacted her as the organizers of the festival sold all the T-shirts and asked her for more. Later she was asked to present her “bird” in Norway at a peace festival.

“When the emotions of the August war slightly receded I decided to send it to the festival in Norway,” she said. When the bird was being put on the plane Maka had a strange fear that her bird made out of a piece of bomb could blow up in the air and even consulted a military expert about this.

As for her sources of inspiration she says: “When I observe the world around me I am always under impression that the truth of life penetrates my mind and stays there forever.” She says life is an unending emotion which gives her the strength to create, and while working what is impossible becomes possible through art.

This year Batiashvili has an invitation to visit Lithuania and for one year she will be given an art studio and painting materials free of charge. She has not yet decided whether to go, but will certainly participate in different exhibitions held in Lithuania as this year Lithuania is the capital of culture.

She first participated in a foreign exhibition at Mama Cash Gallery, Amsterdam in 2005, where she displayed video work, and this was followed by a dozen invitations from other international galleries and festivals. In 2007 she participated in the East-West Festival, France with an exhibition of video works and photos, The Sunchild Film Festival in Yerevan, Armenia with “Force and Weakness”, The Washington Film Festival in Atlanta with “The Sorrowful Melodies of a Land filled with Sunshine,” The Spectrum Gallery in London in an exhibition of paintings by Georgian artists, and the Blumen Gallery in Leipzig where she held a solo exhibition. In 2008 she also participated in a film show in Wroclaw,Poland, called “The Nearest Mountain” and the Off Europa Festival in Germany, held a solo exhibition at the Georgian Embassy in London and exhibited photos at the Atlanta National Museum. Maka Batiashvili has also illustrated the book “Tell Us A Story” by Michael Berman.

Rusudan Gvazava
2009.03.16 12:31