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2011 » Georgia » Section of Countries and Regions

Curator:Ketevan Simon Kintsurashvili
Institution:Ministry of Culture and Protection of Monuments of Georgia

Scenography as a Technique; The Concept of Static Drama

In addition to looking at artistic issues, our theoretical objective is to explain the significance and capacities of scenography in regard to post-modern and contemporary art in general. In our view, scenography is a technique that enables artists to fill material objects with magical content and create surrealistic spaces that involve the viewer in the process of developing an idea. When the shift from modernism to post-modernism began in the West, this process involved theatre as well. The penetration of elements of theatre into the visual arts provoked a sharp reaction from and intense debate among critics. Some critics claimed that theatre and theatricality were at war with visual art, and that the latter had to defeat theatre in order to survive. Art’s association with theatre (and literature) resulted from the spectator’s new position in relation to visual art, resulting from his/her increased participation (in M. Fried’s words, “the experience of literalist art is of an object in a situation – one that, virtually by definition, includes the beholder.” From: “Art and Objecthood,” 1967). A similar antagonistic approach emerged towards space. In the Soviet Union, no one was interested in the events described above, since on this side of the Iron Curtain, avant-garde art was strictly forbidden, and so the autonomy of traditional branches of art was not under any threat. Nevertheless, even during the Cold War, this curtain was permeable and some information did make it through. It so happened that, in our part of the world, thanks to the artists with avant-garde thinking new tendencies became established on theatre stages, with scenography providing “refuge” to the avant-garde. Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili (1941), who represents Georgia at the Veletržní Palace, was one of the leaders of these processes. Alexi-Meskhishvili did not need to break the limits of visual art through the use of theatrical elements; he solved his creative problems simultaneously in two spheres – scenography and easel painting – and elements of the new trends found their natural, organic reflection in his works. As a result, his artistic expression shifted freely from plane to space and vice versa. When he subsequently exhibited his works, the effect of theatrical play caused any means (including collage and installation) to be perceived as the scenographer’s suggestion – as a result, they were not prohibited. So, thanks to the technique of scenography, Soviet audiences were involuntarily introduced to prohibited avant-garde trends (pop art, conceptualism, informal, or site-specific art) and thus acquired the ability to think in objects charged with abstract ideas, symbols and metaphors and equipped with the tools of semiology. Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili uses all instruments as a tool for revealing human secrets. As a result, surrealism also acquired a special, non-classical, post-modernist content in his creative work. Instead of telling or describing a secret, he reveals its existence without damaging its tender fabric. Though for the purpose of abstracting he never makes either body or thing invisible (theatre artists cannot “evade” a figure), he gives material objects (including garments) a new meaning (content). Accordingly, Alexi-Meskhishvili is capable of tearing a man off the stage boards and teaching him to fly (one example that is presented at the Nostic Palace is Ariel’s costume for Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”). At the Veletržní Palace, Alexi-Meskhishvili presents a scenographic composition dedicated to the Georgian poet Vaja-Pshavela, whose 150th anniversary is being celebrated in Georgia this year, and shows the dimensionless nature of the world of magic in both poetry and art. The accompanying music (by composer Giorgi Janiashvili) plays an important role in imbuing the presented installation with a mystic aura. At the Nostic Palace, composer Giorgi Janiashvili collaborates with designer David Janiashvili in order to present a visual-sound installation on the theme of sacrifice. This installation represents an example of “Static Drama” – a concept developed by the composer himself. The young artists’ goal is to involve the audience in the presented drama so that they influence the play with their thoughts and actions. The thus viewer becomes a participant in the process that is taking place within the installation. Static Drama presents a space born in the process of thinking, which gives birth to the new process(es) of thinking. In this case, scenography is considered a technique that allows us to give shape to an idea. Acompanying project at the Nostic Palace is non-competetiv.

Exhibiting artists / ateliers

[show all | hide all]
  • giorgi  janiaSvili  (Giorgi Janiashvili)
  • Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili
  • David Janiashvili (David  janiashvili)
cz / en