Victoria Danelian


Usually, curatorial text is written in another way, but as I sat down to write this statement, I knew I wanted it to be read like a letter. A letter from me to you.

Letter from February 24, 2022. That day my family and I were in Tbilisi. In the morning I woke up earlier than usual, and picked up my phone to read the news and messages from friends. War. There is war in our home. There is war all over Ukraine.

From that moment on, there was no tomorrow for me. Time stretched out into one long, endless, agonizing day.

On February 28, we met with Magda Guruli, Lasha Bakradze and several thousand people on the square in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi. It was very crowded, we made our way among the people to talk aside. Magda impatiently asked me: “Vika, I want to offer you to do a project, do you want to?” Trying to squeeze closer to her, I said, “Yes, I want to!”

It happened so that right now, after 22 years, I am in Georgia and I am living through the war again. We decided that artists from Ukraine and Georgia would work together on the project, which is very valuable to me.

It turns out that here, in Georgia, the war in Ukraine is experienced as one's own. This significantly changes the scale - from a single current event to a mutual history.

So, as you see, in the beginning, there was only a form - at that moment, neither I nor Magda knew what kind of a project it would be. We agreed that it would be an exhibition, that's all. And I grabbed this opportunity as if it was my lifeboat. I exist. I'm not drowning. I can breathe. I know where I am, who I am, and how I can help myself and others by doing my job.

I started to think about the concept of the exhibition, the name and the exposition solution. I grasped at the understandable and routine forms of my profession.

I was wondering if I could give this exhibition a long name like “Nothing Lasts Forever, Only Nothing Lasts Forever”? This name has the structure of a Möbius strip. There is no inside and outside, no beginning and no end. There is both hope and doom in this phrase. There is an expectation of change and recognition of the inhumanity, cruelty, and aggression inherent in man. “Nothing” is also a part of human culture, its underside. This is a part of human speech.

A patch applied to an empty space where there are no words. Hope for completion, the progression of time, but also the recognition of infinity, timelessness, into which the war plunges us. No clear plans, no future. There are only doubts and blurring of the present.

It turns out that here, in Georgia, the war in Ukraine is experienced as one's own. This significantly changes the scale - from a single current event to a mutual history.

Or maybe we can build an exposition in proportion to the first reaction of a person to danger. “Fight, run, freeze,” adding “help” here. After all, culture seems to promise humanity such an opportunity, doesn’t it?

But these thoughts of mine are crumbling. After February 24, they make no sense. There is nothing to analyze, reflect on, or interpret when you lose your words, and the power of speech itself.

Thinking takes time, you see? You need past, present, and future tenses. But what if there is only an extension of today? As a minimum, I need to imagine June 10, 2022, a day in the future when the exhibition will open. How many lives will be taken? How many unrecoverable events will occur? Will there be peace, will there be a nuclear war, and in general, what will we want to discuss in this future when we find ourselves in the exhibition hall? The way to "Tomorrow" goes through this search. Here and now - shock and pain.

I step back a little and consider what the works of artists and curators are about in the days of the war?

Someone is trying to look from the future, planning it in their work, collecting archives about the war. They are trying to take themselves out of the present.

Someone lifts the layers of the past, confirming the recurrent nature of what is happening in eternity. They are trying to predict the future.

Someone sees the polar points of “war and peace” not in themselves, but around them. They are manifesting them through their personal agony of today's existence.

Someone remains here and now with the perforated space and time, through the holes of which the pain of loss is draining, and experiences this grief in their daily work. They don’t understand to whom this work will be presented tomorrow.

And you know, I think I belong to the last ones. But how our "Tomorrow" sounds, we will hear later, when the endless, incomprehensible today finally ends.

While writing this text, I get into another time shift.

I am writing an introduction to be read after the opening of the exhibition. The catalog itself will be printed in advance. These words should have been prepared yesterday and I have already delayed the deadlines.

The text should sound like it was from the future, which is so difficult for me to imagine today.

What can I tell you about the exhibition? "Tomorrow" I see as a special place in time where we can locate our experiences and how differently we express them through word, image, sound, or color.

I’m leaving the letter incomplete. I'll finish it as soon as I can. Take care, please!