Tuesday, November 30, 2010
NEW BOOK: Cultural Archetypes and Political Change in the Caucasus. By Sergey Arutiunov (Author) & Nino Tsitsishvili (amazon.com)
Publisher: Nova Science Publishers (November 30, 2010)
For the people of the Caucasus history and ancestral heritage signals something that must be taken into account and set as an example for present actions. Today the Caucasus is a region where ancient pre-Christian and pre-Islamic rites of sun-worship, fertility, animal sacrifice, traditional moral views and cultural nationalism co-exist with international programs of human rights and equity, democratic political and governance structures, international jazz festivals and youth culture. The book interrogates the Caucasus through the prism of two interrelated categories of discourse, namely 'cultural archetypes' and 'political change'. Cultural archetypes reflect the persisting significance of historical memory and association with the past in customs, rituals, religion, inherited social values, everyday activities and artistic expressions. Political change is about globalisation, transnationalism and the turbulent political transition from closed, isolated and economically disadvantaged nations to open, pluralistic and democratic societies with more economic potential based on market economies that the Caucasian nations are currently experiencing. The book searches for crossroads between the two - how political changes can be based on existing cultural values and how cultures can serve as political discourse. Since recent political changes and future of the Caucasus are related to the establishment and possibility of building Western-style liberal democracy, many scholars and politicians contemplate whether it is feasible to build Western-style democracy while simultaneously preserving local social values. Will these nations go through the same way to democracy as did the West, or will they hold on to their unique physiognomy? Can traditional expressive cultures in the Caucasus preserve unique identity while political and social values will keep changing? The book does not provide a decisive answer, but by interrogating such persisting dichotomies as 'progressive' and 'static', 'pragmatic' and 'non-pragmatic', 'individualistic' and 'collectivist' societies, it certainly furthers our understanding of the relationship between the political and cultural realms of the Caucasus nations in comparison with those of the West.
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Monday, November 29, 2010
AGHET - Der vergessene Völkermord
Armin T. Wegner
Zur Eröffnung um 19.30 Uhr sprechen:
- Susanne Böhringer (Vorsitzende der DAG)
- Der Erzbischof der Armenischen Kirche in Deutschland Karekin Bekdjan
- Die Kuratorin der Ausstellung, Judith Schönwiesner
- Prof. Dr. Andreas Meier (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
Vortrag: Austreibung oder Völkermord?
Musikalische Umrahmung: Lieder von Ulrich Klan, Musiker, Komponist, Vorstandsmitglied der Armin T. Wegner Gesellschaft und Armine Ghouloyan, Pianistin, Komponistin
Der Wuppertaler Armin T. Wegner (*1887, Elberfeld, †1978, im Exil in Rom) – Schriftsteller, Essayist, Reisender und kritischer Beobachter seiner Zeit – zählt zu den weithin vergessenen Autoren des 20. Jahrhunderts. Wegner avancierte in den zwanziger Jahren mit seinen Reiseberichten "Fünf Finger über Dir" (1930) und "Am Kreuzweg der Welten" (1930) zum Bestsellerautor. Die Texte des vom Orient faszinierten Schriftstellers erzählen von seinen ausgedehnten und abenteuerlichen Reisen, die er zusammen mit seiner Frau, der jüdischen Dichterin Lola Landau, unternahm.
Der lebenshungrige und abenteuerlustige Dichter vergaß jedoch nie, auch hinter die Kulissen der Zeitgeschehnisse zu blicken. So wurde er 1915 - als Sanitätsoffizier des Roten Kreuzes in Bagdad - Zeuge von der Vertreibung der Armenier. Trotz Verbots begab er sich in die Flüchtlingslager, fotografierte, schmuggelte. Briefe der Verfolgten zur amerikanischen Botschaft und die entstandenen Bilder unter seiner Bauchbinde nach Deutschland.
Der umfangreiche Nachlass des Dichters und leidenschaftlichen Fotografen liegt im Deutschen Literaturarchiv Marbach. Neben Briefen, Tagebüchern, Arbeitsmaterialien und einigen Romanfragmenten finden sich darin auch etwa 6700 Fotografien.
In der Ausstellung werden Aufnahmen gezeigt, die Wegner mit einer einfachen Plattenkamera von der Vertreibung und den Morden an den Armeniern machte. Da nur die Glasdiapositive zu einem Vortrag, den er zwischen 1919 und 1924 hielt, überliefert sind, werden die Fotos in neuen Drucken ausgestellt. Jene Bilder aus dem Nachlass, die nicht eindeutig Wegner zugeordnet werden konnten, sind über eine DIA-Projektion zu sehen.
Wie Lew Kopelew trat auch Armin T. Wegner für Gerechtigkeit, Völkerverständigung, Gleichheit, gegenseitigen Respekt und Menschlichkeit ein. Diese Haltung brachte Wegner u.a in seinen revolutionären Aufrufen wie "Der Ankläger – Aufruf zur Revolution", seinem Dia-Vortrag "Austreibung des armenischen Volkes in die Wüste" oder in seinem "Brief an Hitler" zum Ausdruck.
Dauer der Ausstellung: 02.12. – 17.12.2010, Öffnungszeiten: di. – fr. 11.00 - 18.00 und nach Vereinbarung
UKB: 5,- € / 2,5 € ermäßigt
Ort: Lew Kopolew Forum, Neumarkt 18, 50677 Köln
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
CARE International in the Caucasus and Heinrich Boell Foundation are cordially inviting you to Movie premiere “Out of the Ashes”
A movie by G. Glaser and D. Schwaiger (2010)
• • •
During more than 20 years a bloody civil war dominated the north of Uganda. Now women should be empowered to reconstruct the social fabric of the war torn region.
Time: Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 18:00
Venue: Heinrich Boell Foundation,
38 Zovreti, St. 38, Tbilisi
Tel: (995 32) 38 04 67/68
Since 2006, the 20 year conflict between the Government and the Lord’s Resistance army in Uganda has ended. However ceasefire is reality only on paper. The women of northern Uganda are fighting for gender equality and their right to fully participate in the peace negotiations and process. “We had the opportunity to meet women who – despite of the almost hopeless situation – are full of vitality and try with enormous energy to restart. The persistent danger of a recurring conflict can not stop them,” describe filmproducers Gregory Glaser and David Arno Schwaiger their experiences.
The documentary has been produced in the course of the project “Women’s Empowering for Peace” financed by the Austrian Development Agency in cooperation between CARE Osterreich and Sancho Pansa Film Productions. It reveals impressive stories of the life of women in northern Uganda.
CARE Osterreich has provided humanitarian aid to Uganda since 1969. In the beginning the projects were restricted to agriculture, cattle breeding and education in healthcare, but were expanded due to the bloody civil war: Women’s Empowerment is now a main focus.
• • •
The movie will be screened in English and local languages with English subtitles.
The movie is screened within the framework of the project Strengthening Women’s Capacity for Peacebuilding in the South Caucasus implemented by CARE International in the Caucasus and funded by the European Union with funding from the Austrian Development Agency.
For more information please contact Tamara Sartania at email@example.com or via phone at 895 92 13 93.
more: Gender Information network of the South Caucasus (ginsc.net)
Saturday, November 27, 2010
After about 10 years of living in the US, Mamuka Giorgadze, a Georgian painter, is back in his home country and continues painting in his workshop in the Tiflis Avenue gallery. Between November 19 and November 23, the gallery, situated in 8/10 Erekle Mepe Street, Old Tbilisi, hosted an exhibition of his works.
Giorgadze has held personal exhibitions in Tallinn, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Minneapolis, Los-Angeles, Washington and Chicago. He works in oil colors, creating fascinating pieces, mostly of people and personalities. His paintings are rich in symbolism, and he has said that every detail has its own meaning.
As the theme of the exhibition was Adam and Eve, the gallery was decorated with red apples, and in most of his works one could find a man or a woman holding the fruit.
In his paintings, female characters are always dominant, and visitors are encouraged to look more deeply into her spirit to see the yet unknown sides of woman.
“My works are linked with myself, with my life, and my way of thinking about the relationship between men and women. In my paintings, women have strong characters” said Giorgadze in an interview with Georgia Today.
In Giorgadze’s paintings, women are symbols of love. “When God created Adam, he was unsatisfied with his rough form; then he created Eve - a woman - and he called her his masterpiece,” the painter explained. “For a real man, a woman is even more important than breathing.”
Most of the visitors - Georgians as well as foreigners - were very pleased with his work. After looking at the paintings, many commented that the paintings were quite different than the works of other Georgian artists. But most of them were intrigued by the faces of the individuals on the canvases, asking “Why aren’t these typical Georgian faces?”
The painter’s answer to this question was simple: “When God created man, there was no nationality.”
more here: www.gallery-worldwide.com
Friday, November 26, 2010
The Caucasus: An Introduction
Institut für Kulturgeographie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, 79085 Freiburg i. Br., Germany firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed: Frederik Coene. The Caucasus: An Introduction. London, UK. Routledge. 2010. xvi + 238 pp. US$ 130.00. ISBN: 0-415-48660-6.
Readers who expect a book on mountain issues in the Caucasus will be disappointed by this volume. The fact that most of the Caucasian region is within mountain areas plays a minor role in the argumentation of the author, who is a political science scholar for international organizations. However, it was not his intention to provide details of mountain geography. The book developed from his recognition that no recent textbook covers a region that is of ever-increasing interest in regional and global politics. If you do not find a book that is adequate for your work, you have to write it yourself—and this is what Coene has done. The result is a remarkable introduction to a region which—because of its former inclusion in the Soviet Union—has been neglected for a long time.
Coene presents his text in 8 chapters of different length and weight. He starts with a glimpse of the geography in which he considers many facts but cannot provide an in-depth analysis: 26 pages are not sufficient for more than an encyclopedic overview. Territorial division, government, and administration form chapters of similar length.
Population and society form the third basic topic required to describe the current situation; the main focus of this chapter is on history and the manifold conflicts. Nearly all regional and ethno-political conflicts, mostly unsolved, are considered in depth, from their outbreak in the final months of the Soviet Union to the present situation. This chapter is the most sophisticated part of the book, reflecting the author's main interest. As he is one of the actors in the international organizations that intend to mediate these conflicts, the book continues with an overview on international politics that focus on the Caucasian region.
The 2 remaining chapters, dealing with economy and culture, are relatively short and weak in argumentation. With regard to economy, this can be understood because the statistical basis for all deliberation and explanation is extremely poor. The statistical offices of the 3 post-Soviet successor states in the South Caucasus still do not provide current data of the appropriate amount and detail. The chapter on culture and traditions mentions different aspects, but does not integrate them into a holistic analysis of the region. However, this is not the main goal of the book, which is addressed to students and scholars in social and political sciences who wish to have a survey on the Caucasus.
Overall, description prevails and argumentative interpretation is in the background. Yet it must be acknowledged that Coene does not omit topics such as physical geography, hydrology, climate, main landscape types, ecosystems, and biodiversity. He argues that there is a certain relationship (though not a dependency) between the natural background and the historical developments and recent political issues. In the chapter on physical geography, he does not intend to follow geodeterministic argumentations as it is not his main interest. This chapter is one of the most descriptive, enumerating important facts and omitting others, and does not develop an impression of the interrelationships between the physical background and human activities.
Another criticism concerns the character of a textbook for students and scholars. Coene does not reflect scientific discourses concerning the region; he lists a number of scientific works, mainly in English and Russian, but does not meet the needs of a student who is looking for the basic texts and in-depth study of any topic. Developing such a volume would require a significant effort, but Coene wanted—and this should not be considered a negative—a brief introduction for students and scholars to one of the most critical regions of the world.
Open access article: please credit the authors and the full source.
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The Caucasus is one of the most complicated regions in the world: with many different peoples and political units, differing religious allegiances, and frequent conflicts, and where historically major world powers have clashed with each other. Until now there has been no single book for those wishing to learn about this complex region. This book fills the gap, providing a clear, comprehensive introduction to the Caucasus, which is suitable for all readers. It covers the geography; the historical development of the region; economics; politics and government; population; religion and society; culture and traditions; alongside its conflicts and international relations. Written throughout in an accessible style, it requires no prior knowledge of the Caucasus. The book will be invaluable for those researching specific issues, as well as for readers needing a thorough introduction to the region. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
European Commission, Belgium --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Routledge (September 2009)
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For centuries, they have been known to have vast untapped reserves of gold, much of which is difficult to get at because of the complex rock patterns.
But now gold has become one of the country's most important exports a small team of experts has begun to pan for gold in streams.
Tom Esslemont reports from Georgia. video >>>
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wo Virchow grub: Das Pergamonmuseum zeigt Schätze aus dem Kaukasus - und macht für diese Ausstellung einen mutigen Schritt.
Rudolf Virchow kennt man in Berlin als Mediziner an der Charité und Namensgeber eines Krankenhauses. Weniger geläufig ist jedoch, dass er sich 1881 auf den beschwerlichen Weg von Berlin nach Tiflis machte, 4000 Kilometer mit der Eisenbahn und auf dem Pferd. Denn Virchow war nicht nur Arzt, sondern auch Anthropologe und Archäologe. Er folgte einem Ruf, den damals, Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts, viele deutsche Gelehrte und Hobbyforscher vernahmen: Auf nach Südrussland, in das Gebirge des Kaukasus und die Steppenlandschaft am Schwarzen Meer, wo man auf den Feldern der Bauern Grabbeigaben mit tausendjähriger Geschichte finden konnte.
Virchow stieß auf die früheisenzeitliche Koban-Kultur. Seine Funde, die er bei Ausgrabungen auf einem Friedhof machte, überließ er dem Königlichen Völkerkundemuseum, dem späteren Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte. Dank Virchow besaß es eine der größten Kaukasus-Sammlungen außerhalb Russlands.
Diese archäologischen Schätze, Diademe aus Gold, Spiegel aus Bronze, Perlengeschmeide und Schmuckschließen, zeigt nun das Pergamonmuseum in seiner Ausstellung „Das Silberne Pferd“. Im Vordergrund stehen nicht nur die kunstvoll gefertigten Zeugnisse der Skythen, Sarmaten und Goten vom 10. Jahrhundert v. Chr. bis ins 7. Jahrhundert n. Chr., sondern auch Virchow selbst, seine deutschen und polnischen Zeitgenossen. Bei den Landesnachbarn stieß die einst an Edelmetallen so reiche Region ebenfalls auf Interesse.
Das Pergamonmuseum macht für diese Ausstellung einen mutigen Schritt, wohlwissend, dass dieses Nischenthema über ein recht unbekanntes Kapitel europäischer Forschungsgeschichte nicht die Massen anzieht: Studenten der Ausstellungsarchitektur an der FH Düsseldorf haben die Schau entworfen und einen fiktiven Forscher ersonnen, der sich mit den Besuchern auf die Reise begibt. Die Erklärungstexte an den Wänden sind in Ichform geschrieben. Das liest sich flotter als mancher Sachtext. Das Publikum wird von einer mit lässiger Hand gezeichneten Kulissenherrschaft zur nächsten geführt, von einem Volk zum nächsten. Nur wenige Exponate stehen in den Vitrinen, sie erhalten konzentrierte Aufmerksamkeit.
Titelgebend ist eine silberne Phaleron, eine etwa handtellergroße Zaumzeugschnalle mit Pferdekopf. Sie war eine Schenkung des Barons Johannes von Diethardt, eines leidenschaftlichen Sammlers. In den Archiven der Berliner Museen wird er nur als „ungenannter Gönner“ geführt. Damals zog er die Anonymität vor. Jetzt wird er geehrt.
Pergamonmuseum, Museumsinsel, bis 13. März 2011; Mo–So 10–18 Uhr, Do 10–22 Uhr
This is only the fourth post-Cold War summit convened by the OSCE. The first was held in 1994 in Budapest, the year the group transformed itself into a new, post-détente organization. There were two more, in Lisbon in 1996 and in Istanbul in 1999.
Not coincidentally, the ten-year gap between summits overlaps with Russia’s re-emergence as a global player, following the trauma of the Soviet Union’s collapse. As a result of Russia’s revival, a range of disagreements has arisen within the OSCE – the only pan-European and trans-Atlantic organization that includes old Europe and the post-Soviet states.
On challenges ranging from election monitoring to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, there is no common ground among the 56 member states. Worse, there is serious acrimony between Russia and the rest on many matters, including a new, alternative security architecture, which Russian President Dmitri Medvedev imagines could be placed under the OSCE’s umbrella.
With so much to disagree about and no significant agreements ready to be concluded in Astana, this looks like a case of summitry for summitry’s sake. Without the usual pre-arranged outcomes, the delegations and their leaders will be searching for a success story to present to the world – whether in the OSCE’s human, economic, or security dimensions.
That search could lead to the only conflict in the OSCE in which the organization has a direct role: the dispute between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh. The OSCE serves as mediator – through the Minsk Group co-chairs (the governments of France, Russia, and the United States) – in the most explosive of all the conflicts and security threats in the Caucasus.
To be sure, unlike Georgia’s war with Russia, the two sides in this clash are not so unequal as to draw global attention. But, given Armenia’s alliance with Russia and Azerbaijan’s close ties with Turkey, an eruption over Karabakh could very well escalate regionally.
Perhaps for this reason, there has been talk of a meeting in Astana between the presidents of Russia and France, the US secretary of state, and the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. That prospect holds both great opportunity and serious risks.
There is a reason that no such meeting has been held in the 20 years of the conflict. A meeting of presidents is, after all, the ultimate negotiating forum, and must lead to real, sustainable success. Otherwise, it will appear that no amount of negotiation can help set the Caucasus straight – powerfully undermining a key restraint preventing the two sides from trying again to achieve a military solution.
Resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully requires two parallel steps: a guarantee of non-resumption of military hostilities, and a clear, mutually binding blueprint for reaching a final settlement. In the absence of assurances of such an outcome, a presidential-level meeting should not be tried.
This is especially true at a time when the other main deterrent to renewed violence – the military balance between the two sides – is also being weakened. This year, Azerbaijan’s military budget alone exceeded total state spending in Armenia and Karabakh. That, together with the more than 30 incidents occurring daily on the Line of Contact, does not bode well for peace, particularly given the absence of even a hint of agreement on a document, any document.
An acceptable blueprint might emerge from high-level negotiations in Astana if it were to build on what succeeded in breaking previous negotiating deadlocks: the idea of a referendum in which the war-weary Karabakhis can determine their final status. The beauty of a referendum in these circumstances is that it recognizes the two fundamental principles at the heart of this conflict – self-determination and territorial integrity.
But thus far, there is no agreement on the timing of a referendum. That failure remains the main obstacle to addressing the many other outstanding problems between the parties to the conflict.
In just two months, South Sudan will hold a referendum on independence that was agreed to in 2005. A little more than two years ago, Kosovo voted for independence from Serbia. If, in Astana, a high-level group reinforces the idea of a referendum and sets a mutually acceptable date, this would be a significant achievement. The summit will have succeeded, the OSCE will have succeeded, and Karabakh will cease to be a synonym for conflict, but a laboratory for peace.
Vartan Oskanian, Armenia's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1998 until April 2008, is the founder of the Yerevan-based Civilitas Foundation.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2010.
You might also like to read more from Vartan Oskanian or return to our home page.
Vartan Oskanian, Armenia's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1998 until April 2008, is the founder of the Yerevan-based Civilitas Foundation.
THE CAUCASUS: Why Blocking the New START Treaty is Dangerous to Russia’s Neighbors (thefastertimes.com)
Watching Russian-American relations unfold from the geopolitical tinderbox of the Caucasus, it’s hard not to feel like a flammable bystander in middle of a match fight at times. One of those times is now, as Republican lawmakers, emboldened by their party’s victory in midterm elections, are trying to kill Obama’s New START Treaty with Russia.
The new arms reduction treaty would pick up where previous post-Cold War deescalation treaties with the former Soviet Union left off, pulling back weapons systems from European soil and reducing the numbers of deployed nuclear weapons with mutual inspections to ensure compliance. This same kind of cooperation has produced agreements to put in place radiological detection systems at border posts to prevent illicit trade of nuclear materials and weapons.
State Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher wrote in a Sept. editorial in Politico:
For the past 15 years, our principal arms control agreement with Russia, START , has been based on President Ronald Reagan’s guiding principle, “Trust, but verify.”
But START , which allowed us to monitor and inspect Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, expired last December. Now, we have only trust — and that’s not enough in an uncertain world.
Kind of hard to argue with that, right? Wrong.
Despite initially passing the treaty through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Sept., Republicans have now declared they will block it, as it needs a two-thirds (67-vote) majority to pass on the Senate floor, and Democrats will not be able to push it through without significant Republican support. No foreign policy expert thinks blocking it is a good idea from either side of the aisle — former Republican Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, James Baker, and former Republican National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, as well as all but one commander of U.S. Strategic Nuclear Command have come out strongly for the treaty.
So why are Senate Republicans suddenly going against the military and party elders? 1.) Because they want to make Obama look bad — and make no mistake, when you make a bilateral agreement with another country that your own government then forces you to take back, it looks bad for the president and the country. And 2.) because the new breed of empowered Republicans want to bring back America’s foreign policy to the golden years of the Bush era, where the U.S. was so self-assured of its own supremacy that there was no need to make concessions or apologies and anyone who did not share this vision was confronted with consequences of various sorts.
There’s no need to look back at the foreign policy triumphs of 2001-2008, I think we all remember what was accomplished.
If the Republicans succeed in blocking START, it will not only open the door to a new East-West arms race, it will set up the potential — and signal their intent — to sink Obama’s “reset” of relations with Russia following the NATO summit in Lisbon that showed signs that Russia and the West may be on the cusp of a real rapprochement. Republicans have cited human rights concerns and Russia’s aggressive foreign policy as justification to punish it by not agreeing to this treaty. I am not against holding Russia accountable for its actions, but nullifying a mutual arms reduction treaty would not punish them, it would only punish world stability, which is why foreign governments — including pro-Western, anti-Russian Poland — have issued statements begging the Republicans to ratify it.
The greater trust there is between Washington and Moscow, the less mistrust the Kremlin holds for pro-Western governments on its borders, and the less it sees such governments as Western encroachments in a zero-sum game to take control of Russia’s old neighborhood. This dynamic could not be more potently expressed than in Georgia, where I live.
Georgia has a long history within the Russian orbit, and is a strategic foothold between the Caspian and Black Seas on Russia’s southern flank. While Moscow begrudgingly accepted its loss of influence in most of Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990′s, when a Western-backed (and funded) democratic movement came to power in Georgia in 2003, Russia saw a threat. It didn’t help that at the time Bush was lambasting the Kremlin over its opposition to the war in Iraq and failure to embrace Western-style democracy. The Bush administration’s insistence on placing missile interceptors on Russia’s border and recognizing the independence of Kosovo only upped the ante.
Meanwhile, Georgia developed into an modern version of an American client state, with most of its budget coming from international donors, and its military trained and outfitted by the U.S.. With talk of it integrating into the NATO alliance, it was an American proxy in a vulnerable position, and the perfect place for Russia to reassert some pressure in the other direction. In 2006, Russia, Georgia’s biggest trading partner, embargoed it. Russia also continued to egg on Georgia’s two separatist regions, which Georgia has not controlled since 1994, and who have continued to exchange fire with the Georgian military across foggy ceasefire lines for the last 15 years. Eventually, it came to a full blown war in 2008, where intervening Russian forces came to within 15 miles of the capital, and Bush could only reflect on the effectiveness of his posturing, saber-rattling and bluffs.
I arrived in Georgia 10 months after the war, and five months after Obama took While there has been little progress on paper since my arrival, the atmosphere is markedly changed. After a period of panic, Georgia has continued to develop economically, despite the presence of Russian troops on nearly 20 percent of its internationally recognized territory, and while neither country recognizes the other diplomatically, there is no impending fear the war might start up again. Furthermore, both Georgian and Russian troops are participating in NATO’s security mission in Afghanistan. As U.S. foreign policy has shifted to one that is seeking common ground with Russia, the simmering conflict has cooled to an uncomfortable, yet stable status quo. This week, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili felt tensions had abated enough to announce his intention to sign a non-use of force agreement with Russia and the separatists in order to resolve the conflict.
While Georgia may be the most extreme case, it is not the only contentious square on the geopolitical chessboard — there are several wounds that could be reopened should Russian-American relations plummet again — and Republicans should remember that Congressional games affect far more than political careers; on issues like this they are literally matters of life and death.
After Gulf Spill Georgian Environmentalists Fear Repeat on Land
Why is the Georgian Orthodox Church Scanning Children’s Brains?
Am Sa., 04.12., gibt es von 15:00 - 18:00 die Moeglichkeit, das Atelier der georgischen Kuenstlerin Natia Kalandadze in der Weintraubengasse 19/4, 1020 Wien, zu besuchen.
Am Mo., 06.12., wird beim This Human World - Filmfestival im Schikaneder Kino (www.schikaneder.at) um 20:30 die georgische Dokumentation "The leader is always right" gezeigt, in Kooperation mit der "Austrian Helsinki Association - For Human Rights and Int. Dialogue", gefolgt von einer Diskussion mit der Regisseurin Salome Jashi und Siegfried Woeber, moderiert von Anna-Katharina Laggner (Oe1, FM4). Danach gibts Wein aus Georgien und DJ Nikolaus.
THE LEADER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
Regie: Salomé Jashi
Georgien 2010, Dokumentarfilm
43 Min., Beta SP, OmeU
Mo 06.12.2010, 20:30 - Schikaneder
Das Ferienlager im Film THE LEADER IS ALWAYS RIGHT ist kein gewöhnliches Ferienlager. Hier verbringen Jugendliche zehn Tage in sogenannten „patriotischen Camps“ in Georgien, um patriotisches Training zu erhalten und ihre Gehorsamkeit zu fördern. Das bedeutet, die Abneigung gegen Russland zu schüren und einen Nationalstolz bei den Teenagern zu wecken. Welche Ziele haben Jugendliche in Georgien? Und wie will sie der Staat formen? Das Camp, in dem jede und jeder dem Anführer gehorchen muss, wurde vom georgischen Präsident Micheil Saakaschwili im Jahr 2005 initiiert und wird vom Staat finanziert. Uniformen mit dem gregorianischen Staatssymbol, Flaggen auf den Kabinen, ideologische Slogans und Regeln wie „the leader is always right“ sind Mittel, die dazu dienen, jeden Jungen und jedes Mädchen an die Vergangenheit zu erinnern und den Wunsch nach Rache zu schüren.
Liebe Grüße, Silvia de Carvalho
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
INTERVIEW: Putting Georgia on the World Map - Georgia striving to become international tourism destination (finchannel.com)
The FINANCIAL -- Interview with Maia Sidamonidze, Chairwoman of the Georgian National Tourism Agency.
Q. What are the three main challenges that are slowing the development of tourism in Georgia?
A. I think we have quite significant challenges affecting tourism in Georgia. The primary challenge for us is to satisfy the demand for our country, which is potentially huge, and provide this sector with the needed infrastructure. The second challenge is the quality of service in the hospitality sector which is very important in maintaining the amount of tourists, or even increasing them. Thirdly there’s need for an education system, as we need good human skills in this sector. For some reason there is sometimes a negative attitude towards the service sector but we want to popularize this industry in order to make people want to work in it.
Q. How many tourists do you expect this winter and is it likely that hotels may not be able to accommodate tourists at some point?
A. Last year we had 80,000 people going to Bakuriani and Gudauri, if we consider the fact that new infrastructure is developed and new destinations like Mestia have appeared, then it could reach more than 100,000 this year. If for example last year’s number doubled then we wouldn’t have a sufficient amount of hotels to cater to the new demand. In Svaneti there are 450 beds but even though new projects are continuing to come up I’m sure that Svaneti will be full this season.
Q. As statistics show, the bulk of tourists are still flowing in from neighbouring countries and the CIS. Does that mean that the Georgian tourism sector should be oriented more at its neighbours?
A. I think we should maximize our potential when dealing with our neighbour countries. The reason that those people from neighbouring countries are coming here is that they know Georgia well and have a good relationship with us on a country level, they also know that we have a great combination of sea and mountains here. This has been true since the time of the Soviet Union, and they’re closer in mentality to us as well. The primary markets are Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Ukraine , Belarus, Baltic Countries, Kazakhstan, Israel and Iran.
There’s even greater potential from Asia, America and Western Europe. But if we need to enter those markets then first we need to increase awareness about Georgia and therein lies a problem - concerning international awareness about our country. When people hear about Georgia they still associate it with tense political situations. Secondly we should focus on our strategy in terms of how to enter and brand Georgia on foreign markets, and to supply their demand. We’re working very closely with the private sectors of those countries as well as Georgian ones to provide up to date information on tourist resorts together with having business partnerships so as to have a lot of tourists flowing here.
Q. What new is being done to attract people from European countries and the United States to Georgia?
A. On Western and American markets we need to raise the popularity of Georgia among their people. As we’re not such a rich country to afford to advertise on TV all the time, we need to attend exhibitions, meet and make the right contacts there and provide media tours for them.
We had the Shanghai Expo recently and it was very helpful in increasing awareness of Georgia there. Most of the people at the exhibition didn’t know much about Georgia although they became interested over the course of the event and almost 2 million people visited our stand there, making those people potential tourists for us.
Generally we do a promo campaign when we’re going abroad which involves the following: with the help of our overseas Georgian embassies we arrange meetings with tour operators that are working and then with travel media representatives we do presentations, thereafter inviting them here on a fun trip - which is a familiarization trip, according to the season.
As for the advertising campaigns as you know there was the “Summer in Georgia” video clip which turned out to be quite successful as a bulk of tourists came here following that. In addition for winter we’re planning to do some advertisements too. Nowadays, due to globalization the internet has become one of the cheapest and most effective tools to advertise and do PR campaigns. So this year we’ll be busy with internet activities on blogs, creating new websites as we generally need to increase our internet representation as a lot of tourists are searching for info on the net.
In addition it’s very important to educate the private sector and advise them on how to provide online booking systems and other services for tourists to easily get what they want.
Q. Which types of travel packages could be created to boost the demand in Europe for Georgian tours?
To gain a competitive advantage you need to have very innovative and different packages on offer so as to differentiate from other countries - specific tours combined with low prices. Recently prices for tours to Georgia were cut due to the introduction of low cost airlines. We’re still cheap compared to lots of tourist destinations but perhaps for some people in Baltic countries for example it’s cheaper for them to go to a Scandinavian country rather than come to Georgia, just in terms of price.
Q. What is the brand of Georgia like? How do tourists identify our country?
A. I don’t think we have a strong brand identity or a slogan for Georgia. But at the same time we’re busy working on positioning the country on the world map in terms of all four seasons and diversity.
The word diversity is very well applied to our Georgian tourism brand as the country is rich in natural tourism destinations and all the needed resources in addition to being culturally diverse.
Q. Could you tell us which global travel companies offer travel packages to Georgia?
A. There are travel agencies who are active promoting Georgia. As we have invited them here and tried to arrange meetings with the private sector here. So they are the ones who start negotiating with the private sector and thereafter create the needed travel packages. That’s how it works as if you want to sell a package then you have to have the contact info of the travel agency which is concerned with outgoing tourism. So whenever you have a partnership abroad, they try to sell your packages there. Thus even though you might not have an office in a foreign country, by cooperating with certain agencies you can attract a number of tourists from there.
Recently we made a partnership with the biggest Israeli travel agency called “Flying Carpet” who had thousands of people travelling to Turkey, but then it stopped as you know, so now for 40% of those tourists Georgia is the best tourist destination.
Q. How do you think of and evaluate the prices that hotels or other guest houses charge for tourists in Georgia compared to other countries like Turkey?
A. When we compare Georgia to Turkey, they’re ten years ahead so it’s too difficult to compare prices because their tourism development has a long history which means there’s already established demand. They have many hotels, and at the same time there’s huge competition among those hotels and the prices are regulated on the market.
Although we have an increase in terms of number of tourist in Georgia, the private sector and the market still isn’t regulated, the reason being that there need to be more hotels and restaurants opening and when the competition is high then those hotels will be competing with the prices and services they each offer.
Q. What about advertising or introducing travel packages to global travel agencies, what can be done to brand Georgia there as well?
A. Usually how it’s done as I’ve worked with private sector tourism is that, the hotel for instance that I worked for, did revenue management to maximize distribution channels, and internet is one of the distribution channels. Of course we want to be on trip advisor or hotels.com but actually this is the job of the private sector. As when you go to trip advisor then you need to update information about the tourist destinations and no one will do it for you. Then you have to charge reasonable prices.
But when there’s a situation with the market not being educated I think then it’s our job to provide them with the information. That’s why we’re planning from January to do workshops to present main online booking systems like expedia.com and say that you can book a hotel in Georgia on there.
Actually those leading global travel agencies are working on mass tourism where they can sell a lot of travel packages abroad. Secondly they prioritize the countries in which they’re offering the lowest prices for holidays so as to sell their packages. So they always try to sell packages that are cheap.
Nowadays people don’t use travel agencies as actively as they used to but instead use the internet and all existing travel agencies are now reduced to trying to survive on the market, therefore offering the most affordable prices.
We haven’t contacted those agencies because as the Government we can’t do anything. What we can do is invite them here and tell our travel agencies to meet with them but I don’t think they’ll even be coming here as they’re working on mass tourism.
And actually there are lots of countries missing, like even Switzerland, not to mention our neighbouring countries.
Q. Typing Georgia in to Google brings up a lot of information about the U.S. Georgia. It seems as though the actual Republic of Georgia is not well positioned in Google search. How can the brand of Georgia be better promoted in that respect?
A. When I came here and was appointed as Chairwoman, I together with the communication department at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development tried to contact Google. At first we were fobbed off, but when our new minister Vera Kobalia went to the U.S. she managed to meet with the right people at Google.
As for search engine optimization, the reason Georgia is often overtaken by U.S. Georgia sites is that we need to increase the number of websites about our country. One way to optimize the search is to pay Google an amount of money to position our country first or to put key words on websites so that when people search for relevant info your website comes up first.
Q. Even in Google Images (when typing Georgia in the images search section) there are pictures depicting violence and aggression from the August war, subsequent riots, etc. What can be done to remove those pictures? Can’t you ask Google to help with that? (Despite the fact that it’s automatically generated by Google)
A. This is a problem of globalization. As we’re not China or Cuba and we have democracy in the country, we can’t just ask Google to remove the pictures. It’s impossible because then any country would be asking Google for the same thing. So the only way to beat the situation is to cover those negative pictures with positive ones which is just a matter of time.
Q. What’s the budget of the Department of Tourism and Resorts for 2010/11 and is it enough for the execution of all your plans?
A. Currently our budget is 2.5mln GEL but this is going to be increased for the coming year. This money is used for routine activities, exhibitions, printing brochures, paying salaries etc. but when it comes to advertising then this money isn’t enough of course. But in addition if we need some specific advertisement campaign then we’ll be telling it to the Government and presenting it our project for financing. After which they’ll decide whether or not to grant us the money or not.
Q. What is the advantage of Georgia compared to other well known countries? Why should tourists choose Georgia over Italy, France or Turkey?
A. First of all we are a new destination for the world market. Then we’re offering diverse tourism in Georgia for all four seasons. In addition people of all ages are welcome to come here, as they can come and enjoy hunting, fishing, eco tourism, we’ve lots of very nice lakes and nice coastline in addition to ski resorts, and so forth. This is our main advantage as some countries don’t have this luxury at all.
Q. What about the service sector of tourism in Georgia? Is it satisfactory and what can be done to improve it?
A. Of course the service sector is not satisfactory and there should be a lot of things happening in that respect including changes in the education sector. There are some professional schools but the amount of the professional schools should be increased. There are two training centres, one in Tbilisi and one in Kobuleti. Education is actually a long term strategy and what we can have in the short term is small trainings, to encourage businesses to train their staff and be more competitive.
We also plan to create a special website from January where a tourist can go like tripadvisor.com and post positive as well as negative things about any hotel or service they experienced whilst travelling to Georgia. By doing so we’ll gain lots of information and find out where we are lacking. The mentality of the majority of tourist hotel owners is that they’re not willing to train their staff, so once they see that tourists are actually concerned with the service offered then they’ll be encouraged to do so.
Q. How effective will low cost airlines be in terms of bringing tourists to Georgia?
Do you have any specific figure of bulk increase in number of visitors since Pegasus appeared on the market - and what similar initiatives are there to motivate tourists’ inflow in Georgia? Which internal directions are air flights travelling to, and are any other routes being added in the future?
A. Low cost airlines are very important for us, as we are gaining a cost advantage in this case. Pegasus is very popular now and most of the larger airlines are suffering as a result of it entering the market. There are even further negotiations being held with other low cost airlines, but as they are not yet confirmed, the information remains confidential. Right now is the most passive season for tourism so we can’t even observe how effective low cost airlines are in bringing about a bulk increase of tourists.
As for the domestic flights they are also important, as you know we had flights called Air-Batumi this summer which stopped for various reasons but there will be other ones entering this line as well. As for the Mestia destination, from December there’s going to be a new Airport opened there with flights from Tbilisi to Mestia by airplane.
Q. What kind of tours should be offered in order to attract young tourists? Do you have concrete plans in this regard?
A. When targeting young travellers I think internet is the best way to popularize different destinations and tour packages. Recently we had some offers from Euronews and Fashion TV as they’ve started tourism advertising campaigns for different countries. They’re working on youth as well which is good, but at the same time such advertising would cost us a lot.
VORTRAG: Konflikte im Kaukasus - Wirtschaftliche Aspekte. Von Frau Mag.a. Daniela Mussnig (orient-gesellschaft.at)
es freut mich sehr Ihnen wieder einen spannenden Vortrag präsentieren zu dürfen:
Am Donnerstag, 25.11.2010, um 18:30 Uhr dürfen wir Sie in den Räumlichkeiten der ÖOG/HP, Klubsaal, 1010 Wien, Dominikanerbastei 6/6
zu dem Vortrag
Konflikte im Kaukasus - Wirtschaftliche Aspekte
von Frau Mag. a. Daniela Mussnig, Politologin, Leiterin des Bereichs Internationale Initiativen im Interkulturellen Zentrum
recht herzlich einladen.
Preis für die Abendkarte: € 4,- (€ 2,-)
Im Anschluss an den Vortrag sind Sie noch zu einem Glas guten georgischen Wein eingeladen!
Silvia de Carvalho
Book Review: Orientalism and Empire: North Caucasus Mountain Peoples and the Georgian Frontier, 1845-1917 by Austin Jersild (gazistan.blogspot.com)
"Gunib is high. Allah is higher. And you remain below."Yeah, so it's not from Orientalism & Empire and is actually just a quote from Shamil, who, by the way, was captured/surrendered at Gunib.But it does a good job of giving you a frame on how awesome the Caucasus are.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (November 23, 2010)
Product Description: This book addresses multiple aspects of the conflict between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia in August 2008, including the use of force, human rights, transnational litigation and international law 'rhetoric'. The particulars of the conflict are explored alongside their wider implications for international order.
About the Authors
JAMES A. GREEN is a Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Reading, UK. He was previously a researcher at the universities of Nottingham and Michigan. He is the author of The International Court of Justice and Self-Defence in International Law, which was awarded the Francis Lieber Prize for an exceptional work in the field of law and armed conflict.
CHRISTOPHER WATERS is the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, UK. In 2006-07 he was a Visiting Research Fellow in the 'Changing Character of War' programme at the University of Oxford. His publications include Counsel in the Caucasus and The State of Law in the South Caucasus.
AmazonShop: Books, Maps, Videos, Music & Gifts About The Caucasus
LITERATUR: Giwi Margwelaschwili / Nino Haratischwili: Kapitän Wakusch / Juja, 06.12.2010, 20:00 Uhr in Berlin (berlin-buehnen.de)
Karten: 13, 8 Euro
Kartenkauf und Reservierung: www.sophiensaele.com
»Kapitän Wakusch 1 – In Deuxiland«
»Kapitän Wakusch 2 – Sachsenhäuschen«
Autobiographische Romane, beide Bände erscheinen im November 2010 im Verbrecher Verlag
Die ersten beiden Bände von Giwi Margwelaschwilis autobiographischem Romanwerk »Kapitän Wakusch« sind seit langem vergriffen und in Antiquariaten sehr begehrt. Nun sind sie endlich wieder zu haben! Im ersten Band »In Deuxiland« beschreibt er seine Jugend als Ausländer im Dritten Reich. Doch ist er nicht nur ein Exiliantenkind in Deutschland – als Jazzliebhaber, der sich in der Jazzbar »Kakadu« der verbotenen Musik hingibt, ist er zugleich ein jugendlicher Rebell. Mit dem Kriegsende endet der erste Band, der zweite nimmt den Faden wieder auf.
In »Sachsenhäuschen« ist Wakusch, das alter Ego Margwelaschwilis, plötzlich ein Gefangener der Sowjets. Er wird nach einer Odyssee durch verschiedene Kerker in das berüchtigte Speziallager Nr. 7 verbracht, dem ehemaligen Konzentrationslager Sachsenhausen. Dort erlebt er Elend und Demütigung, aber auch Lichtblicke, etwa eine Theateraufführung mit dem Mitgefangenen Heinrich George …
In »Kapitän Wakusch« schildert Margwelaschwili die Welt- und seine Lebensgeschichte scheinbar leichthin, in origineller Sprache, ohne aber je die Möglichkeit der Selbstverständigung und der Selbstbefreiung aufzugeben – ein Zeitdokument und zugleich große Literatur!
Giwi Margelaschwili wurde 1927 als Sohn georgischer Emigranten in Berlin geboren. 1946 wurde er zusammen mit seinem Vater vom sowjetischen Geheimdienst NKWD entführt. Der Vater wurde ermordet, Giwi Margwelaschwili in Sachsenhausen interniert, anschließend nach Georgien verschleppt. Dort lehrte er Deutsch. Erst 1987 konnte er nach Deutschland ausreisen. Ihn begleitete eine Unzahl von in der Emigration auf Deutsch geschriebenen Romanen und Erzählungen. 1994 erhielt er die deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft und ein Ehrenstipendium des Bundespräsidenten, 1995 den Brandenburgischen Literatur- Ehrenpreis für sein Gesamtwerk, 2006 die Goethe-Medaille, 2008 das Bundesverdienstkreuz. Er ist Mitglied des P.E.N. und lebt in Berlin. Werke u.a.: „Muzal – ein georgischer Roman“, „Das böse Kapitel“, „Der ungeworfene Handschuh“.
Siehe auch: www.giwi-margwelaschwili.de
Im Verbrecher Verlag erschienen bisher: „Officer Pembry“, Roman; „Zuschauerräume“, Lesedrama; „Vom Tod eines alten Lesers“, Erzählungen; „Der Kantakt“, Roman (2009) und „Der verwunderte Mauerzeitungsleser“, Essay (2010).
Beruhend auf einer wahren Geschichte stellt die erfolgreiche Theaterautorin Nino Haratischwili in ihrem ersten Roman die Frage nach Authentizität. Das Buch »Die Eiszeit« von Jeanne Saré wird in den Siebziger Jahren ein großer Verkaufserfolg, vor allem in feministischen Kreisen. Das hasserfüllte Buch der jugendlichen Selbstmörderin Saré animiert mehrere Leserinnen zum Suizid. Nun, in der Jetztzeit, machen sich in Paris einige Menschen auf die Suche nach Saré. Was hat der Verleger des Buches, ein grantiger älterer Herr mit Saré zu tun? Warum gibt es keine Zeugnisse? Und wie konnte das Buch derart wirken? Nino Haratischwili beschreibt auf schwindelerregende Weise, welche Bedeutung Geschichten für das Leben haben können.
Nino Haratischwili wurde 1983 in Tiflis, Georgien, geboren. Sie leitete von 1998 bis 2003 die freie zweisprachige Theatertruppe »Fliedertheater« und zeigte mit dieser mehrere Produktionen an georgischen Theatern sowie Gastspiele in Deutschland. Von 2000 bis 2003 studierte sie Filmregie an der Staatlichen Schule für Film und Theater in Tiflis. Bis 2007 folgte ein Regiestudium an der Theaterakademie Hamburg. Nino Haratischwili schreibt Prosatexte und Stücke in deutscher Sprache. 2009 gewann sie gemeinsam mit Philipp Löhle den Autorenpreis des Heidelberger Stückemarktes. Sie lebt als freie Regisseurin und Autorin in Hamburg. 2001 erschien die Erzählung »Der Cousin und Bekina«, 2009 erschien »Georgia / Liv Stein: Nino Haratischwili Zwei Stücke«.
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Alexander Kartosia
Foto © Alexander Janetzko
Weitere Informationen: www.sophiensaele.com
25.11.2010 - 30.11.2010
TBILISI STATE ACADEMY OF ARTS. BIG EXHIBITION HALL
With: David Alexidze, Anton Balanchivadze, Maka Batiashvili, Gia Bugadze, Thea Telia, Georgi Kekelidze, Guram Kvartskhalaia, Rocko Iremashvili, Konstantin Mindadze, Anton Sokolov, Oleg Timchenko, Sophia Cherkezishvili, Shalva Tskhoverebadze
22, Griboedov street, 0108, Tbilisi, Georgia
T+995 32 936 899 / +995 95 334 360
F+995 32 954 562
EINLADUNG: Topografie des Stalinismus - Zur Aufarbeitung der Repressionsgeschichte in Georgien, 02.12.10, 19 Uhr (taz.de)
Topografie des Stalinismus
Zur Aufarbeitung der Repressionsgeschichte in Georgien
Datum: 2. Dezember 2010, 19.00 Uhr
Ort: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Schumannstr. 8 10117 Berlin
Eintritt frei, Anmeldung nicht erforderlich
* Omar Tushurashvili, Georgisches Staatsarchiv, Tbilisi
* Lasha Bakradze, Soviet Past Research Laboratory, Tbilisi
* David Gogishvili, Soviet Past Research Laboratory, Tbilisi
* Giorgi Kldiashvili, Soviet Past Research Laboratory, Tbilisi
Moderation: Walter Kaufmann, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
Stalin wird in Georgien entweder als großer Sohn des Landes gefeiert oder verschwiegen. Die Aufarbeitung des Stalinismus war im Geburtsland des Diktators bislang kein Thema. Doch mittlerweile verändert sich etwas: Im Juni dieses Jahres stürzte die Regierung von Präsident Micheil Saakaschwili das monumentale Stalindenkmal im Zentrum von Gori, der Geburtsstadt Stalins, vom Sockel.
Eine Gruppe von acht jungen Historikern aus Tiflis nutzt den politischen Abgrenzungswillen der Regierung gegenüber der sowjetischen Vergangenheit und die damit verbundene Zugänglichkeit der Archive, um das Thema "Aufarbeitung des Stalinismus" in Georgien voranzutreiben. 2009 gründeten sie das unabhängige "Soviet Past Research Laboratory". In mühsamer Kleinarbeit in staatlichen und privaten Archiven sowie durch Interviews mit Zeitzeugen schafft das von der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung unterstützte "Laboratorium" Grundlagen für die differenzierte Erforschung des Phänomens "Stalinismus" und seinen Auswirkungen auf die georgische Gesellschaft.
Seit 2009 bietet das "Soviet Past Research Laboratory" unter dem Titel "Topografie des Roten Terrors" Stadtführungen zu Orten stalinistischer Repression an.
Die Historiker vom "Soviet Past Research Laboratory" laden zu einem virtuellen Rundgang ein und berichten über Rahmenbedingungen der Aufarbeitung des Stalinismus in Georgien.
Die Veranstaltung wird simultan Georgisch - Deutsch übersetzt.
Eintritt frei, im Anschluss sind Sie zu einem Umtrunk und informellen Austausch eingeladen.
Kerstin Nickig, Referat Osteuropa, T 030-28534-384,
Wir weisen darauf hin, dass im Rahmen dieser Veranstaltung Foto-/Ton- und Filmaufnahmen von TV-Sendern sowie für öffentliche und nicht-öffentliche Zwecke gemacht werden können.
Red Terror Topography
In the small hours of the morning on June 25, 2010, the Georgian government removed a statue of the Joseph Stalin from the central square of his hometown of Gori. Georgian media and civil society were instantly abuzz with talk about dismantling the dictator’s statue and the ambivalent views many Georgian still hold about Stalin and his era. The Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF), in cooperation with DVV International and the new non-governmental organization “The Soviet Past Research Laboratory,” has been developing an innovative project about the Stalin era to provide a new means for Georgians to address their past. Official action to move the Stalin statue from the central square to a nearby museum shows that the time is right for looking back at Georgia’s history.
“The Topography of Red Terror” will develop routes and tours showing buildings and places associated with Soviet terror and repression. Guides will be trained to explain and interpret the sites for Georgians and international visitors. By directly encountering the locations where people in Georgia experienced injustice at the hands of the state, citizens and visitors can have a more vital understanding of the shape.
To set up the project, the HBF and partners are drawing on international expertise, in both coming to terms with a dictatorial past and in engaging the public with such difficult questions. On July 1-2, the Foundation hosted a workshop with experts who have addressed similar questions in other countries, most notably in the Baltic States. Former Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar, representatives of Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs, along with representatives from Latvia’s Museum of the Occupation, Lithuania’s Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, and Russia’s International Memorial participated in the workshop.
The working group first met in November 2009, and it served as a starting point for researching the historical details, initiating a design of the route map of the Red Terror illustrating buildings and places associated with the Soviet terror and repressions. The process will support Georgian society in its efforts to come to terms with its Soviet legacyAt the July meeting, the Soviet Past Research Laboratory organized a test run of the guided tour in the old parts of Tbilisi, showing and describing historical places and buildings related to Stalinist terror, including NKVD headquarters, Communist Party offices, places of executions, houses of Communist party leaders. These locations and their history are largely unknown to the most Georgians, let alone foreign visitors.
In addition, participants visited the Archive Administration of Analytical Department of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia that years ago served as the Archive of Soviet Party Organs. They had a unique opportunity to see original documents from the Stalin period, such as investigative papers, protocols of “Troikas” (judicial authorities) in 1937–38, protocols of the judicial sessions of Georgian Cheka collegiums, and orders of execution. These documents are now housed by the Archive Administration of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs. They are the raw material of history and enable visitors to get factual information on a dark part of the country’s history. The tour of Tbilisi locations was based on materials found in these archives.
Archive representatives presented a documentary showing how damaged archival materials were preserved, restored and made available to the broader public. Digitalization of the materials and open access to the archive documentation are important steps toward the democratic development of the country and shedding light on shadowy parts of its Soviet history.
The workshop participants agreed to assist the launch of an international consortium for the Stalin Museum in Gori. High-level political support could lead to establishing a museum and a research center, with global scope, focused on communist crimes and located in Gori. Such a center would include the current Stalin Museum as one part of its exhibits. Estonian participants also contributed their perspective on both legal and historical perspectives on Soviet actions. As a result, workshop members encouraged supporting Georgian society in establishing an International Investigation Commission on Crimes Against Humanity in Georgia.
The HBF and the DVV, in cooperation with the Soviet Past Research Laboratory, will continue to support the process of researching, designing the route map of the Soviet terror in Tbilisi and developing new ideas on coming to terms with Georgia’s past. With changes even coming to Gori, the time is right.
MOVES #6: Filmprogramm/Filmscreening: GOSLAB in Berlin. Kuratiert/curated by Andreas Reihse +++ 23. 11. 2010 UM 20.30 UHR (imagemovement-store.com)
Filmstill / Film still: Gio Sumbadze, Electrosmog #1, 2007 (courtesy of the artist)
lease scroll down for English version
MOVES #6: Filmprogramm / Film screening
23. 11. 2010 um / at 20.30
Mit Filmen von / With films by
Tamuna Karumidze, Nika Machaidze, Salome Machaidze, Zaza Rusadze, Gio Sumbadze
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Freunde,
Image Movement freut sich, das Filmprogramm GOSLAB, kuratiert von Andreas Reihse, präsentieren zu können.
GOSLAB – ein Filmabend zwischen Dokumentation und Fiktion. GOSLAB ist eine in Tbilissi gegründete lose Vereinigung aus Künstlern, Musikern, Filmschaffenden, einer Modemacherin und eines Hirnchirurgs. Das Wort GOSLAB ist eine Konstruktion aus государственная (Staat) und Лаборатория (Labor). Der Name spielt mit der Geschichte des Landes Georgien als Teil der UdSSR, in einer Zeit, in der alles Gos war. Neben Musik (Nikakoi, Erast, Post Industrial Boys, tba) ist Film das bevorzugte Medium der
Mit einer Einführung von Andreas Reihse.
Der Eintritt ist frei.
Dear Sir or Madam, dear friends,
Image Movement is delighted to present the film screening GOSLAB, curated by Andreas Reihse.
GOSLAB – an evening of films of both, documental and fictional character. GOSLAB is a Tbilisi based congregation of artists, musicians, directors, one fashion designer and a brain surgeon. The name GOSLAB consists of the russian words for state/nation, государственная, and for laboratory, Лаборатория. With this name GOSLAB reminds of the history of Soviet Georgia, of a time when everything was Gos. Besides music (e.g. Nikakoi, Erast, Post Industrial Boys or tba), film is the preferred media of the group.
With an introduction by Andreas Reihse.
Image Movement I Oranienburger Strasse 18 I 10178 Berlin
Image Movement I Artist Films, Films on Art and Records I Mo – Sa, 11 – 19 h I
Monday, November 22, 2010
Bitte melden bei Karu Williams
Sunday, November 21, 2010
CALL: Production Grant for Photographers From Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Pakistan (daylightmagazine.org)
The Open Society Documentary Photography Project and Arts and Culture Network Program announce a grant and training opportunity for documentary photographers from Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Pakistan.
The grant is being offered to:
visually document issues of importance in the region; and provide training and support to photographers from the region.
Approximately 10 cash stipends in the amount of $3,500 each will be awarded to photographers to produce a photo essay on a current human rights or social issue in the region. Grantees will participate in two master-level workshops on visual storytelling through photography and multimedia. These workshops are led by internationally-recognized photographers and industry professionals who will then provide ongoing mentorship and support throughout the six-month grant term.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Assumption College, Worcester, Mass.
Memory, I think, is a substitute for the tail that we lost for good in the happy process of evolution. It directs our movements, including migration. Apart from that there is something clearly atavistic in the very process of recollection, if only because such a process never is linear. Also, the more one remembers, the closer perhaps one is to dying.
Joseph Brodsky, Less than One: Selected Essays. 1986
I have always been sure that among the “beautiful evils” released by Pandora from her box was the gift of a bright, strong, unfailing memory: the type of memory that never releases us, screening us from the present behind a scrolling bas-relief of images and recollections of physical sensations of the past. Possession of this type of memory can make us close our eyes and sink into the past until we forget the present.
I have a memory for the minutiae, and for many years I did not know how to include it in my art. My dilemma was how to use the everyday memories, events, and stories crowding in my mind, while at the same time I knew myself to be a single person living on the periphery of the world – I could not reconcile how to monumentalize the ordinary around me in artistic language.
My mother’s family album became, upon her death, a parade of photographed activity among people, not a single one of whom is alive. Among the images of my own family’s past I found photographs of ancestors in war uniforms, women and children on picnics, promenading on beautiful alleys, splashing each other in the warm sea, celebrating holidays that have ended a long time ago in images of Soviet resorts, and out of this collected ephemera emerged the question – why should I use only my family?
I am sure the odd sensation of looking at old photographs is not a new one, but after living in several countries and different cultural spaces, I found that the private photography of the 20th century contains an amazing similarity of themes. Private lives, family lives, education, holidays, relaxation, service in the army – despite the pressures of propaganda in the last hundred years, wherein nations were encouraged to run from each other and divide, images of individual lives resemble each other to a startling degree. As I sorted through photographs from friends’ archives, flea markets, bookstores and antique shops, I realized that I could make a record of the collective space, through years, nations and wars. My motivation was both the desire to give anonymous photographs a second life and to project the future through artistry of the not-so remote past.
Photographs are the most likely material for this type of activity. As Roland Barthes postulates in his Camera Lucida, “Perhaps we have an invincible resistance to believing in the past, in History, except in the form of myth. The Photograph, for the first time, puts an end to this resistance: henceforth the past is as certain as the present, what we see on paper is as certain as what we touch. It is the advent of the Photograph…which divides the history of the world.” Photographs alone, collected and catalogued in a completed archive, could be its own form of art, but this would lead the viewer on another path, and in this body of work I used the language of painting to strengthen the photographic object into a monumental presentation.
Found photographs have impacted this work dramatically, and one photograph in particular illustrates the project as a whole. In the Budapest flea market I bought a small black and white photograph, which showed eight young girls striking a dancer’s pose in gym class, in white dresses, on a sunny day, holding over their heads eight matching volleyballs - a happy and somewhat ordinary image that could have happened in any school of the era. What struck me, however, was on the other side is the handwritten caption: 30 August 1939, Budapest – and in that confrontation of banal school photographs and the date, memorable because in twenty four hours World War II begins, the result of which a million people and tens of cities will be ruined, and in that city where this photograph was taken, that is the birth of this project. When looking at this photograph, I started to think, and wanted my audience to wonder with me: did they know about the preparations for the war, from the newspapers, radio, and cinema-scopes? Did they celebrate with their families the opportunity to return territories lost in the First World War? Or were they terrified, perhaps some among them knowing they would be leaving soon and their families were scared; and for this photograph are they closing their eyes to concentrate only on the present day, which in this case, was August 30, 1939?
St Augustine wrote, “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” The moment the painting I made, created from the real object of the date on the photograph, was named “August 30, 1939,” I gave my audience to understand that as a subject, the painting’s subject will have a relationship to time. The painting itself can be touched, transferred to digital format, printed in catalogues, exhibited; but our imagination of the event in the painting will always be channeled to 1939. But the date when this photograph was taken, the painting was created, and even the moment this text is read, those moments slide into the past. My motivation as an artist is the desire to freeze a moment that prognosticates the future, and it is almost unbearably hard to achieve.
Lado Pochkhua, October 13, 2009
When Sergey Parajanov passed away, I was left with pain, sorrow, regret and an immense photo archive. Practically every day of our almost 12 year long relationship was filmed by me.
Sergey was fond of being photographed, quite often was the author of the compositions, which later proved to be the best. I indulged him with photographs and part of them he immediately autographed and gave away, the rest he used for his numerous collages. Parajanov praised me for my shots in every way, saying: ”Take my photographs more often, your (?!) future is in them.” But once he sent me an amazing letter.
My dear and beloved Yura!
I beg of you not to take my photographs anymore. You have created the splendid portrait of me and that is enough for a life. Don’t shoot me with your camera. You have taken approximately 1000 photographs, related to me. Even sold at 10 kopeks each it will make the sum, which I will never be able to pay. I am tired of struggling with my conscience every time I receive another set. Believe me, I spare your creative potential and love you very much!!!
Sergey was right- even in his lifetime, and even more after his death, there was a great demand for my photographs of Parajanov for various publications, exhibitions, films, sculptural compositions… I even managed to buy my first, though second hand, automobile with the payment I got for one of them. These photographs, some copyrighted, some not, have been spread all over the world. As for me, I’ve been haunted by an ambitious thought to see my best shots of Sergey Iosifovich gathered under one cover. I made a few attempts to compose a layout, but every time something went wrong, I was not satisfied.
About two years ago my old friend, a writer and a director, Levon Grigorian advised me to give the book the title “Sergey Parajanov. The Chronicle of a Dialogue”, in which I would speak in more detail about my relationship with Parajanov. This title predetermined the concept and the architectonic of the book, and the work started.
Now the book is in front of you. It is the tribute to the memory of the great artist, who with his life and work has influenced and still continues to influence those of the new generation who crave for true, elevating art. Personally I have been taught much by Parajanov, though his lessons were at times extremely hard to take for the man who was far from the world of beauty then. While working with him I was never tired to get amazed how he got the supreme cinematographic quality by daringly putting together the most controversial things.
I would like the reader of this edition to be able to get an access to the extraordinary, fantastic world, to the universe, whose name is Sergey Parajanov.
more about the great photographer Yuri Mechitoy on his website: www.mechitov.net
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