Georgia Pavilion, 59th International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezia
I Pity the Garden by Vato Urushadze, Khatia Tchokhonelidze, Giorgi Spanderashvili
Spazio Punch: Giudecca, Venezia
April 23 – November 27, 2022
I Pity the Garden by Tbilisi-based artist duo Mariam Natroshvili and Detu Jincharadze is an immersive artwork about a premonition of the end. Through large-scale video installation and VR experience, the viewer is led into a realm of magical realism within the Anthropocene Epoch.
For Natroshvili and Jincharadze, artists born a few years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the feeling of the end has always been integral to their everyday life and has existed as a cornerstone of their collective memory. Living within the volatile environment of the Global South means to exist with the constant anticipation of various kinds of endings. This end does not necessarily mean disappearance, it can also embrace the start of something new. However, the drama of how events unfold too often resembles a dystopian reality or a horrific fairytale, where the metaphorical garden dries out, dies, is set ablaze, and is ultimately rendered empty.
I Pity the Garden takes the viewer into a mesmeric environment modeled by the mythopoetic forms of the artists’ narrative. It’s an observation of signs marking the end: a horizon on fire, a deserted city, a barking dog chained to a wall made of words, a place where supermarket shelves are taken over by a horde of insects. The setting is similar to an abandoned video game where no human is visible and only the traces of irreversible mistakes and wounds in the earth can be seen. The central scene of the VR experience is the Ghosts Garden, a virtual garden that unites plants that have become extinct as a result of human intervention. This ecological crisis, in real life and represented here in VR, is one of the signs of the end.
I Pity the Garden is a poetic work that reflects on a shaken environment detached from objective reality. The audience is invited to move through an interactive and self-generating visual sequence of a non-linear puzzle, composed of real places and fragmented environments that illuminate a world shaken by human deeds. It’s an artwork that employs this technological age’s language of new surrealism in order to speak about the end and the beginning.
Mariam Natroshvili and Detu Jincharadze are the Tbilisi-based artists working together since 2011. Their practice includes multimedia, interdisciplinary, and curatorial projects. Focusing on themes such as the disappearance and oblivion, the key medium of the artists are words, texts, VR, and CGI imagery. They research the personal and collective memory transformed by significant socio-political events. The duo has participated in many international and local exhibitions, including “Houston, we have a problem”, Artisterium VII; “Buildings are not enough”, Tbilisi Architecture Biennale; IDFA doclab, and other projects.
The title of the work, I Pity the Garden, is sourced from a work by Persia’s most famous modernist poetess Forugh Farrokhzad (1934-1967). In her poem about the dying garden, written in the author’s strong eco- feministic voice, Farrokhzad reflects on the sensory relationship between a woman and the changing world around her.