Thirteen commercial galleries and museums in the Georgian capital will hold the first Tbilisi Gallery Weekend (28-30 May) with proceeds going to help the war effort in Ukraine. The collaborative project, titled War Diaries, will see each space present works by Ukrainian artists that have been made since the Russian invasion. While all the works are reproductions, sent with special instructions from the artists as to how they should be presented, many of them are for sale upon request. Profits from the project’s merchandise will also be part of the fundraiser and local visitors and businesses are being invited to donate.
Ana Riaboshenko, the art director at Tbilisi Art Centre, initiated the War Diaries project with an exhibition (until 19 June) at FOTO-GEN Gallery, which is part of the Culture and Art Centre in Wrocław, Poland. “When the war broke out in Ukraine it was almost as if we [Georgia] were being attacked again,” Riaboshenko says. “For most Georgians this war is our war as well, due to our complicated history and present situation with Russia. Therefore, the first thing I felt was an urgency to do something [to support Ukraine], as did most of my friends in Georgia.” Riaboshenko hopes the project will help Ukrainian artists to participate in the global art scene and provide them with a source of income, as well as reminding the international community that the war is not over.
The galleries and art institutions participating in the War Diaries project include Gallery Artbeat, 4710, E.A. Shared Space and Danarti Magazine, Window Project, Propaganda Network, Posta da Kona & LC Queisser, The Why Not Gallery, Patara Gallery, Jibu/Taso, Maudi, and Life N Style. “We have always wanted to unite and establish something like a Tbilisi Gallery Weekend but the realisation of this project was postponed because of the pandemic,” says Natia Bukia, the co-founder of Gallery Artbeat. “But coming together around the cause of supporting Ukrainians against what is going on in their country has been the most authentic opportunity for us [to start a gallery weekend].”
Works on show include Zhanna Kadirova's latest video, filmed during the war as part of her Polaroid photograph series Palianytsia; Taras Bychko's, capturing scenes of destruction in Ukraine; and Nikita Kadan's Cheap Gas, Cheap Blood (2022), which is available to buy as a poster. Other participating artists are Kinder Album, Ksenia Hnylytska, Alevtina Kakhidze, Zhana Kadirova, Ivan Sautkin, Lesia Khomenko, Vladyslav Krasnoshchok, Danylo Movchan, Mykhailo Skop, Stanislav Ostrous, Daniil Galkin, Vlada Ralko and Oleksandr Shatokhin.
The War Diaries programme will travel to the Interchange Festival (from 6 June) in Batumi, Georgia, and then to the Suwon Photo Festival in South Korea in November, and collaborations with other European venues are still in discussion.
“The Russian war and Ukraine’s fight for freedom is an issue that genuinely unites all of us and helps us stand together,” Bukia says. “I hope this initiative will continue in the future.”