The Dispatch – September 20-21: Art course –


Art history in times of hate – Cocaine saga prequel released – Palm Islands come to Batumi – Opposition divided over invocation of SSG head

Like the countryside ahead of the municipal elections, more and more works of art are gaining attention – some in the form of hate-inspired billboards, others in the form of luxurious promises. Here is Nini, with usual and unusual updates from Georgia.

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TWO PIECES There is a popular story about one of the works of art painted by 20th century Georgian avant-garde artist Davit Kakabadze, who is particularly famous for his distinctive depiction of the Imereti region. Unable to escape Soviet pressure on the arts, Kakabadze had to give up a tiny part of painting one of the Imereti landscapes to honor the Communist Party, drawing a Soviet demonstration in the right corner below, with participants holding photos of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Lavrenti Beria. Later, after Stalin’s death, the image fell victim to the so-called de-Stalinization process, and the faces of Stalin and Beria were erased. Restoration efforts many years later could only regain Stalin’s face, with Beria – the feared and hated security chief – was, apparently, beyond recovery.

The story of another work of art plays in the present. This time, the work features the enemies of the ruling party against a bloody background. And instead of having to erase their faces one by one, the performers – whoever they are – must tread carefully to leave enough blank space for new enemies. Notice boards reading “No to Natsi’s [a shorthand for the United National Movement, made to sound like Nazis], no to evil ”first appeared on Georgian streets during the turbulent campaign leading up to the 2018 presidential elections in Georgia. The “Evil Natsis” poster has since been the unmissable event for the Georgian elections. Different versions of it have been printed: featuring key opposition figures, as well as journalists critical of the government. This year, the “Evil Natsi” billboard has open election season, with a nifty Rainbow addition and featuring activists from the LGBTQ movement. But the list of enemies of the Georgian dream is growing and a very special place is now attributed to former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. He even had the privilege of changing the slogan – it now reads: “No to Natsis, no to evil, no to betrayal”. Go get it.

NO VACCINE FOR HATE Critics of this revolting campaign artwork say it does not meet legal requirements for a campaign poster: there is no indication of who paid for it, made it, or an explicit supporting message of who it is placed. ISFED, one of the main election monitoring bodies, was among those who appealed to the Central Election Commission to rectify this problem. Many people are also upset that some of these banners were stuck on the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) banners, calling on people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Responding to media inquiries, NCDC condemns the act “if it is true”. They also said they had not been consulted about the removal of their ads.

DECADENCE Speaking of health and hate: After its burlesque pilot episode, the drug miniseries starring mayoral candidates Kakha Kaladze and Giorgi Gakharia got downright boring. Gakharia has shown his negative results in drug tests at the Rudolfinerhaus Hospital in Vienna. The ruling party Google searched for controversies associated with the clinic and questioned its credibility. DG President Irakli Kobakhidze, trying to save the day, concocted another telenovela-esque plot: when asked by reporters if Mr. Gakharia was, as Kobakhidze puts it, a “cokehead”, how come he was appointed prime minister by the Georgian Dream, Kobakhidze advances his theory that the former Prime Minister was only able to powder his nose after having forged links with a “particular political force” (apparently, a euphemism for the-part-which-must-not-be-named, UNM for you and me). This party, says Kobakhidze, is “intimately linked” to this drug in particular. It is an interesting mind game to try to associate Georgian political parties with “their” brand name drug, but we would leave this particular exercise to your vivid imagination.

In the meantime, a note you don’t have to take our word for: Mr Kobakhidze has decided to advertise his undoubtedly colorful and imaginative character directly to a foreign audience: the party’s freshly launched English-language podcast in power is led by MP Tamar Taliashvili. (Ph.D., as specifically stated in titles), along with Kobakhidze (also, Ph.D., stated in titles). Enjoy. These are the doctor’s orders, right ?!

ISLANDS IN THE FLOW Tornike Rizhvadze, head of government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, told Imedi TV yesterday that Dubai Palm Island is going to be built in the coastal city of Batumi. Soon the computer-generated sketches were posted on the Internet – some netizens noted that if they built these islands a little further from the shore, Georgia could establish its bridge to Europe …

WE ARE DIVIDED The Georgian opposition is good at contention: the last one came after Lelo for Georgia began advocating for the head of state security services, Grigol Liluashvili, to be summoned to parliament to demand responses to the massive leak of what appears to be an equally huge surveillance treasure. For this, Lelo needs the support of other opposition MPs, but the UNM refused them: no UNM MP has time to participate in the “Ivanishvili rally” (Parliament, for you and me) until after the elections of October 2, party president says Nika Mélia. The opposition is therefore still there, waiting for the miracle to happen on this magical date, all by itself.

That’s the full cover for today. Celebrate the weird and curious about Georgian politics with us every Tuesday and Friday!

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