Tbilisi architecture biennial

Tbilisi, Georgia

19.10.20

Birzhastation is a place of gathering, commonness, and belonging; a place for the acceptance and sharing of information. This temporary installation is located on the former Academe-city territory and merges with the contextual importance of the place. The project is intended to encourage the rest of the world to learn about Tbilisi’s political-aesthetic experience.


The shape and the features of Birzhastation – symmetrical, horizontal, neutral, rectangular laboratory, semi-transparent dramatically-lit – echo the typology of the Besedka (the word comes from Russian беседа, which means conversing), one of the simple architectural elements of numerous Soviet cities, villages, micro-districts, parks, and courtyards. Besedka is a place for gathering, communicating, playing, social condensation and represents one of many types of Birzha. Birzha itself is a Georgian word designating a place for social get-togethers that condenses together many different forms, characteristics, and ideas and is usually located in altered public spaces. Birzhas are typically self-organized by people themselves.


In the framework of TAB, Birzhastation hosted an active program of discussions, debates, and libations (physically and online) to create a zone of openness, publicness, intimacy, perversion, wildness, commonality, and collective social condensation.



Evgenya Zakharova - Male Friendship and Honor on the Birzhas of Tbilisi

Tbilisi birzhas are associated not only with tough guys, street code and the obsession with sunflower seeds, but also with 'dzmakatsoba' – the specific form of male friendship.


When discussing 'dzmakatsoba' with Georgians you can often hear that with its special high values and obligations of friends to each other this form of friendship is unparalleled in other cultures. From the case of dzmakatsoba we learn how friendship may resemble kin relations, become subjected to ideology and act as an instrument of social status and control.


Evgenia Zakharova is a researcher at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences. In 2017 she obtained her doctoral degree in anthropology with her dissertation entitled "Men's Neighborhood Communities of Tbilisi: structure and functioning," which discusses the Georgian street as a social, political, and legal phenomenon".

Misha Svanidze - Open Discussion

How does the idea and practice of birzha transform through Georgia’s post Soviet history? Is it a symptom of social and political development or does it signify resistance? Are we losing birzha as a minimal public space and, if so, what comes after?


Mikheil Svanidze is a sociologist from Tbilisi. He has studied Sociology at Tbilisi State University and obtained a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the Central European University. His research interests include public space, social movements, inequality, mobility and politics at large in post-socialist context. Methods-wise Mikheil positions himself as an anthropologist with extensive qualitative fieldwork expertise. Currently he is working towards his PhD thesis on production and reproduction of urban inequality in Georgia as seen through the lens of Tbilisi’s formal and informal transport systems.


Costanza Curro - From Collective to Cellular? Common Space Between the Street and the Prison

Reforms of prison space have had a strong impact on the social and cultural fabric of post-Soviet Georgian prisons, shifting from collectivist models to increasingly individualized spatial and social arrangements. This talk discusses the multifaceted connections between these transformations and changing ideas and practices of commonality among men in the streets of Tbilisi.


Costanza Curro is a social anthropologist based at the University of Helsinki, where she is working on a project on ethnicity in the prisons of the Soviet Union and communist successor states of Central and Eastern Europe. Costanza’s work focuses on masculinities, urban spaces and practices of commonality and sharing. She has written about hospitality in Georgia after the Rose Revolution and birzha in Saak’ashvili’s times.


Ana Chorgolashvili - Presentation of a new issue of Danarti

Presentation of The 13th edition of DANARTI. This edition was made in the framework of project - ACT UP - organized by Dekabristen e.V.


Ana Chorgolashvili works as an art historian / architecture researcher / curator. She is involved in various local and international art projects and exhibitions. Ana, together with the local curator, Elene Abashidze and art historian Irine Djordjadze, is a founder of an independent, interdisciplinary, bilingual publication Danarti. In Collaboration with Gio Sumbadze, Ana is the co-founder of U.R.L (Urban Research Laboratory). In 2015, in collaboration with the Book Art Center, Ana published a guidebook for Soviet Modernist Architecture of Tbilisi. In 2018, Ana edited a special issue of Danarti – Buildings Are not Enough – which was devoted to the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial. In 2020, together with a Czech artist Barbora Gallova, Ana launched Community Radio Tbilisi – an online media platform.

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