Human impact on environment theme for Georgia's first Venice Biennial exhibition in 10 years

Using building blocks, the installation by three Georgian curators reconstructs elements of a settlement flooded in the 1980s to give way to a hydropower plant, and uses the topic to explore questions of environmental impact and more. Photo via Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia, 19 May 2023 - 16:39, Tbilisi,Georgia

Environmental impacts of human footprints on natural spaces, flows of energy, and disruption and creation of orders are some of the themes explored in Georgia's first Venice Biennial display in 10 years, as the architecture-focused section of the exhibition opens on Saturday.

The National Pavilion will showcase january, february, march - a project curated by architects Gigi Shukakidze, Tinatin Gurgenidze and Otar Nemsadze and reflecting on reservoirs and their effects on "ecological, urban, and demographic shifts" in the context of political transformation and climate change, its organisers have said.

The installation takes a look at a settlement flooded in the 1980s for enabling the construction and operation of a hydropower plant for supplying Georgia's capital Tbilisi with electricity, and the resulting migration of its residents and disappearance of its landmarks underwater annually for much of the year.

Taking artifacts and exhibits discovered during a research of the location, the curators attempt a reconstruction of the "spatial memory" of the settlement using building blocks, while the overall display also involves video art and documentary exhibits in four rooms of the Pavilion to compose the exposition.

The Pavilion utilises four rooms, and involves video art and documentary material, to present the installation. Photo via Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia

To what extent can the spatial-political development of humans bring changes in nature and society and vice versa? What physical and conceptual forms fade or remain with such transformations? Are the natural creations, their memory, history, and artifacts that signify their past life permanent? What will be the vestige of defining such places, and, above all - considering global and local contexts – what is their future?

- Project summary

With the project, the organisers are attempting to address questions including longevity of human impact on the environment, the role of water as a "determinant of order", costs of disrupting an existing order and creating a new one, and more.

It is brought to the Venice event via efforts of the three architects who launched the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial in 2017 alongside art editor Natia Kalandarishvili, with curator Magda Guruli working as Commissioner for the Biennial from Georgia's Culture Ministry.

The Ministry also said the National Pavilion - hosted at Il Giardino Bianco Art Space Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 1814 in Venice - would host a six-month art residency for 16 young employees of the Georgian National Museum network.

This year's architecture display of the Biennial is set to run between May 20-November 26 on the theme The Laboratory of the Future by academic, educator and novelist Lesley Lokko, with further details on its programme available on the official website.