"An Art Village in Georgia" – that is how Garikula is referred to, the location in Eastern Georgia where the Polish civil architect Vasiliy Bolgarski built a villa as a summer residence for his family in 1885. The property was nationalized after the Sovietization of Georgia, whilst its owner, Bolgarski, was executed by a firing squad. This eye-catching residence, now known as Art Villa Garikula, was taken over by painters in the 1990s and subsequently, in 2000, a commune of artists was established there to unite Georgian and foreign artists.
It is on the cooperation and joint activities of these artists that "Fest i Nova", the Zdanevich Brothers' International Festival of Contemporary Art, is focused upon. The festival is held annually in the Art Villa Garikula. This year's festival, titled Invisible Streams, was held from 9 to 16 September under the curatorship of art critic Khatuna Khabuliani.
As we learnt from the festival's director, painter Karaman Kutateladze, this year's festival was distinguished by a high number of both supporters (including the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, the US Embassy in Georgia, TBC Bank, and the French institution Villa Arson) and participants and volunteers (up to 400 people).
"American, French, and Austrian pavilions have been set up this year. The word 'pavilion,' in our context, does not denote a building, but a cultural and diplomatic relationship. Georgians are less aware about Garikula than foreigners. However, it is precisely Garikula that can be used as a model for decentralizing the development of culture and art in Georgia," said Karaman Kutateladze.
"It is important that the local population was involved in the festival this year. With their help, the joint labor of Georgians, French, Americans and Azerbaijanis yielded results," the director of festival continued. In his opinion, the participation of youth in the process of creative and cultural dialogue is of the utmost importance, however, Karaman Kutateladze has been disappointed about the low level of activity from students of the Tbilisi Academy of Arts.
"The festival this year proved to be of a wide-scale. Apart from the participants, it was visited by enthusiasts and volunteers from both Georgia and abroad. A very positive atmosphere emerged, something which Tbilisi lacks. An exchange of energies and experience took place, which is progress indeed," Kutateladze recounted while showing us around the exhibition that was scattered all over the villa's grounds located in the vicinity of such historical sites in the Karli region as Rkoni, Ikvi, Kalo Ubani, Ertatsminda, Noste, and Uplistsikhe.
A presentation about the 2013 "Fest i Nova" international festival of contemporary art held in the Garikula villa is scheduled to coincide with the grape harvest in mid-October. Before then, you can visit Garikula and see creative works from up to 15 artists, including: a tree pulled out of the earth and moving on a concrete slab, a piece that was created by young French artists from Villa Arson conveying the idea of unstable equilibrium; objects created on the theme of Alice in Wonderland by well-known French artist Dominique Fury; the American pavilion, displaying works by Nana Chichua, a Georgian artist living in Los Angeles (and the curator of the pavilion), as well as works by Tristan Duke, Travis Wade Ivy, Lever Rukhin, Laureline Koenig and Marcus Beuter; and art from Georgian artists of various generations, all of which are perfectly cited in a vast space against a gorgeous landscape.