Please introduce yourself, and describe what your artistic practice is focused on at the moment.
I, Mari Kalabegashvili, am an artist coming from Tbilisi (Georgia), a country located in Eastern Europe. My current practice is centered around the topic of urban environments as extreme playground settings. A blurred line between the finished work and having fun in the process of making is where I found my support system regarding various actions of counterculture activities. More precisely, I recently got involved with automotive vehicle enthusiasts who are competing both on the streets and in professional sports events. With the support of the local communities, I began to engage with particular spaces, and groups, in addition to the presented codes in cityscapes, to portray familiar environments through different lenses of reflection under the surveillance of moonlight.
What are your real and desired conditions for art production?
Alignment of tangible and intangible resources, both for the outside and within. A state of awareness. The luxury of isolation.
What are your experiences with collaborative art and educational practices so far?
In the past, I have initiated and participated in several significant collaborative actions that have had a lasting impact on my practice. On the topic, the top project in my eyes would be the alternative education organization Parallel Class, which offers creative courses to high school students without a charge. After meeting the founders in 2021, I joined them to create workshops and educational activities around the main theme of the “Organization of Space”. The program operates through the will and enthusiasm of cultural workers, who act as connecting links to the existing local resources.
The participating artists share the accumulated knowledge, methodology, and know-how of art/multimedia organizations with the students. As a result, around 200 participating teenagers from more than 30 high schools became part of one large community and continue to communicate even after they have ended their courses.
How do these times of economic, social, and ecological crises affect your art practice?
As practice is not separated from life itself, I can’t help to be both haunted and informed by what’s going on around me. Every time I think about the given question, images of flowers come to mind, where the beauty of a rebellious attitude is found in the radical fragility. Although all of the above have an effect to a certain degree on the essence of creating artworks and cultural narrations, these factors are certainly not the only ones that define them to do so. In the work process, I am in dialogue with undefined territories that extend beyond the mentioned and any particular characteristics. Without it, there would be no need for me to have an art practice in general. The analysis of day-to-day comes later, from the need to recognize how one can better their surroundings to achieve the state of the mentioned workflow. This is the only space where the two intersect, outside of it, we are talking about two different realms.
Name 10 words/associations/notions that first come to mind when you think of engaged eco-social participatory practices?
(Un)learning, generations, grassroots, responsibility, advocacy, inclusion, collaboration, sustainability, conservation, and communal support.