"La Biennale di Venezia 57. Three Pavilions from the Arsenale: Lost and Found”
Now through November 26th, 2017
Highlights from the 57th Venice Biennale
Part V - Georgian Pavilion : “Vajiko Chachkhiani : Living Dog Among Dead Lions”
…And then, among the cavernous spaces of the Arsenale site, just 300 steps away from Christine Macel’s agglomeration of creatives, it was the Georgian Pavilion’s singular, and most effective installation of a house dominated a vast room that stopped me in my tracks. The ‘wooden’ shack set up on short pillars of piled stones at each corner and at the middle perimeter of the structure astonished. This house, not of the haunted kind, and it was based on a real house that the artist purchased, in the depths of a soot-covered Georgian countryside nearby a coal mining town. It was the most surreal ‘object’ I've seen in years.
The outside could have been one of those cabins I would like to have lived in solitude to write that book, paint that masterpiece, unwind and relax in isolation, away from the world. But there were sounds too apparent, too intense and too wet upon approaching the windows. It was raining inside the house. But not only that, the somber scene inside of modest, everyday furnishings stagnated under the deluge in a series of rooms: A single day bed, a chair, a half set table with surrounding chairs, a bed and iron frame and several accessories all drenched by the downpour. All was forlorn worn, dated, yet in full force charm of age, time, memory. I could live here, immersed in the life offering of this simplistic sanctuary, but not in the rain.
According to the press release, Vajiko Chachkiami’s metaphorical reference to a living dog among dead lions is not from the animals themselves but taken from a Biblical quote (Ecclesiastes 9:4) implying hope. His interest in the rain is a kind of signal of life and death “because of the atmosphere it creates” that will alter the interior, making the installation a work in progress: moss and perhaps mold may grow on the furniture and the deterioration of various objects inside are inevitable. But the exterior will remain the same. The inside space replicates a memory, a dwelling of someone and the objects and materiality around her (the former owner of the real house was a woman, as hypothesized by the artist). Coachkhiani’s premise is that all will eventually disappear due to natural processes, the life of average people and average objects altered due to the passage of time. The rain, in the end, represents something cyclical, like birth and death, appearance, disappearance, and reappearance. This work is one to go back to for a second and third look to see its evolution over the course of the Biennale, and thus over the course of time.
In Chachkhiani’s words… ”I like the material world very much, and I like when it disappears and reappears, and so on.” In November the house will disappear, but somewhere in the Georgian countryside, the unique original model remains.