Posters raise women’s rights in Georgian society

Georgian Women Poster Makers exhibition. Photo by N.Alavidze., Mar 26, 2014, Tbilisi, Georgia

A fascinating collection of posters urging society to pay attention to women’s rights and express compassion when women’s rights have been violated are on display in Georgia.

The posters, which are featured at the feminist gallery Frontline, uniquely highlight the important role women play in our daily lives and the examples of how they are treated in society.

In the small exhibition space, a large number of problems facing women were highlighted in the images. Messages like ‘Women are not family clowns’ and ‘Abortion is a crime’ give visitors the opportunity to think about the problems facing women on a daily basis in Georgia – problems perhaps they did not recognize.

Women are not 'family clouns', poster by Ninuca Chigitashvili.

Emotional posters symbolizing the children whose only way to live normally is through imagination are also on show. Views can sense the way the children imagine having a meal, toys and other things children should have.

Homelessness of children, poster by Salome Koshkadze and Natalia Lazarashvili.

Prostitution among Georgian women inspired one artist when she created a poster of a naked woman whose body was covered with inscriptions of the names of men with whom she had slept with.

Wall for Inspiration, poster by Salome Koshkadze.

Women in Action

The idea came about when Nanuka Mzhavanadze and Anuna Bukia were at the Frontline gallery and spoke between themselves about women’s rights and their role in society.

They came up with a project, titled Women in Action, which contained a variety of events including photography and poster exhibitions and movie screenings, aimed to showcase the works of women and emphasize the importance of their contribution to the development of society.

Included in the poster series were images of remarkable women, made by Georgian female poster-makers. The works were dedicated to portraying the violations of woman’s rights, poverty and abortion – three main problems facing women in Georgia.

The posters were chosen because of their purpose of echoing the thoughts of society, said Bukia, who was one of the women behind the project.

A poster is a very good way to promote social messages [and in] this direction we cannot say is popular in Georgia. Most works of modern Georgian poster makers are fitted to the international standards, Bukia said.

A poster is a large art installment that can be copied and exhibited on the street and shown to millions of people. Posters can catch the attention of passers-by and for this reason, have a great impact on the mass audience, she said.

As well as this, the project planned to show a week-long exhibition of the work of female film directors and female photographers.

The Women in Action project was organised by Union Dioskuria and the international organisation Women's Political Resource Center.

Interactive form of Art

Posters have been displayed in public places all over the world for more than 200 years.

French historian Max Gallo said: Visually striking, [posters] have been designed to attract the attention of passers-by, making us aware of a political viewpoint, enticing us to attend specific events, or encouraging us to purchase a particular product or service.

This interactive form of art is unpopular in Georgia although there is one unique place where students can learn poster making. Tamaz Varvaridze’s studio is the only place that trains professional poster makers.

Professionals look at society and current social problems to find inspiration for their poster creations. This makes it an effective tool to publicize advocacy social issues, said poster-maker and exhibition participant Salome Koshkadze.

Salome is preparing to host the guests of the exhibition. Photo by N.Alavidze.

She believed posters were an effective tool to gain public attention and express feelings to ongoing events around you.

Many posters were made in response to the turmoil in Ukraine. Posters are social echo of society, she said.
When I am working, my inspiration for posters is unfairness and violation. As well, it attempts to change the area around me and helps make the world become a better place, she added.

There are many areas in Georgian society where women are successful but poster-making is one form of art that is yet to be explored in depth in Georgia. Small groups of Georgian women have shown interest in poster-making and would use it to protest against unfairness and violations of women’s rights.