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Of Raves and Protests in Tbilisi (2017-2018)
Omar Gogichaishvili uses a pseudonym Hitori Ni to document his friends and acquaintances, people he hangs out with. These people incidentally belong to the generation of Georgian youth who represent the liberated Georgia, not conforming to traditional societal roles and bounds. His photographs often depict the city’s burgeoning nightlife and portray its hedonist spirit, sexual energy and rebellious mindset that the air is infiltrated with.
The series presented is a compilation of different events both from Hitori’s circle of friends, as well as Georgia’s recent history. Very intimate shots in private settings that look like private parties depict young men. Closely cropped shots show them fooling around, trying on wooden masks, feathered boas, balaclavas, posing cheekily to the camera and making out. This highly intense game between hiding and revealing, of identities, of sexual desires, of private and public, is juxtaposed with shots from public unrests and police raids. The shots with men in uniforms and policemen are from the Bassiani club raid on 12 May 2018, when the Special Forces entered the clubs Bassiani and Café Gallery as a special operation against drug dealing. This action was met with a big discontent from the party-going community who felt that the police abused their power and put up a grotesque performance for the masses rather than took the necessary actions. When these people found themselves on the street on a Friday night, they gathered in front of the Parliament building and continued their rave there. The protests continued for couple of days, where youth fought for their nightclubs and demanded better drug policy; in the end the Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia, came out to the demonstrators and apologized for the actions taken and promised to start working on the reforms.
Other shots are from previous demonstrations where the youth protested Georgia’s unfair drug policy, mainly inadequate charges brought against for drug consumption. These gatherings are usually organized by the activists group “Tetri Khmauris Modzraoba’’, who campaign for decriminalizing drugs and mainly attract younger members of the civil society.
Text by Ellen Kapanadze