Voyage behind the mirror
By Natia Tsulukidze
Guram Tsibakhashvili's photo-works are numerous. They are in series, separately, with titles and untitled and despite all these differences create a single world.
Past epochs left no undiscovered miracles, no unsolved riddles, and no undefined concepts. And yet, there proves to be a way out, i.e. a way to new spaces and it exists as a new system of definitions given to old and already very familiar concepts.
Definitions – is a title of Guram Tsibakhashvili's most famous series first part of which consists of 100 photos. The second part is much smaller and was completed not long ago, after several-yearlong interval. The principle of compositional building-up is identical for both parts: photo placed in the centre, an undeveloped photo-paper around it, a definition given to the work from dictionary and a red details drawn by the photo-artists specially selected for each piece. All these components are synthesized around one key event or concept and by this systemization Guram Tsibakhashvili creates his conceptual artistic language capable of giving any fact its own explanation and definition. But speaking about the given series of Definitions the term definition requires some additional explanation itself. Exact definitions taken from the dictionary are attached to a concrete photo as to a fact, document and demonstrate how accurate or inaccurate is our traditionally established perception of this or that concept. For instance in a photo titled Nostalgia a banal text from the dictionary "Nostalgia" (Greek "Nostos" – returning home "Algos" – suffer, pain) – sorrow caused by inability to return to homeland", a photo of a sad man standing on the board of a ship taken from Kezeli photo-negatives and red arrows drawn by the artist as a visual image of being somewhere far, which actually is a cause of nostalgia - all these components perfectly explain the phenomenon of the concept in all three aspects: visual (photo), verbal (definition from the dictionary), and sensual (red details).
Yet these three components have quite another meaning in another photo titled Detail. The definition of DETAIL (a part of something) is attached to the photo reflecting a woman's face and shoulder, above the photo a woman's torso is depicted in red color in primitive style.
Although all these three details also perfectly match the concept of DETAIL, their interrelations are not single-meaningful at all. Detail - a part of something (woman in this case) gives a full idea about the whole. This is an extraordinary portrait without traditional necessity of face, eyes, and hands. Only shoulder, a small part of face, definition from the dictionary… and detail loses its initial meaning, i.e. detail is not just a detail, but an entire portrait. The third, red detail of the photo also bears an additional meaning. A small torso of a woman can be associated with a goddess of ancient times, and at the expense of this association it goes far beyond the meaning of detail.
For such a complex approach towards the universe Guram Tsibakhashvili presents quite a marginal and scandalous art, which is rarely noticed and this perhaps is one of the elements of the marginality. Nothing is unacceptable and inadmissible for him. Concepts prevailing in the world, composing the history of mankind such as good and bad, kind and brutal, beautiful and ugly, are completely ignored in his art. He has rejected all of them for their simplicity and single-meaningness. His art is an art of diversity. Guram Tsibakhashvili finds a fragment of the destructed monument to Lenin in the rubbish, thrown-away for good and defines it as past (“Past – of the time before the present; gone by in time. Antonym- present, future”). Everything stands so clear, i.e. it is simply our past, perhaps bad and disgraceful but despite all these it can’t be thrown-away and forgotten. It can only be the past, i.e. eternally maintains its meaning.
The second and at the same time central aspect of marginality and originality of Guram Tsibakhashvili’s art is that he never resists and denies an influence experienced from somebody, or something. Strangely enough in the era of extreme individualism and subjectivity, he even tries to maximally establish and manifest this influence. And after all these it seems so hard to get when the artist manages to create such an original and individual photo-space with flying- around definitions form an ordinary dictionary and photos and things found somewhere. This is not a widely known post-modern method of quotation. Guram Tsibakhashvili instead of quoting just develops a photonegative with explanation: ”Negative by Kezeli” or “A Photo Found Near The Municipality”. For him these negatives are parts of the universe, and he uses them, as he would do it with a certain landscape or any part of nature, reflecting his personality through them.
Definitions also include absence of definitions, giving birth to exceptionally interesting pieces. 60’s for instance. “60’s – no definition was found” – explains the artist presenting an entire photo-theory that not everything can be defined and decoded, that time-passing is unexplainable, and years and decades can only bear their faces and images in this case represented by a young lady proudly standing near a Pobeda (a car of those times, the highest possible material value in 60’s).
Guram Tsibakhashvili not only lets facts and events fully reflect their true selves, he even invites viewers to make a choice between his art and undeveloped photo-paper around it, leaving a blank space for flow of ideas. Yet, a careful eye might be as keen as to notice that he has filled and subordinated an entire space called a photo-work of Guram Tsibakhashvili