(Photo © Ilya Popenko)
I am Georgia-born and New York-based curator, writer and researcher. My undergraduate degrees are from Tbilisi State University and Mount Holyoke College, both in International Relations and Gender Studies. I am candidate for MA in Museums Studies at City University of New York. My previous working experience includes United Nations, Columbia University as well as various nongovernmental organizations, with focus on political or sociological research.
Over the last three years I have been invited to participate in various projects with the focus on contemporary painting and photography, women artists, gender imbalance. My first book, “King is Female,” telling the story of three acclaimed female Georgian artists and their journey inside the male-dominated world of societal and artistic traditions was published by Wienand Verlag in Berlin, October 2018 in conjunction with Kornfeld Gallery, Berlin and launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair. You can find more information about the book in My Books section of this website.
From March 2019 to May 2020 I have been selected and worked as Curator-in-Residence at Kunstraum, Brooklyn-based art hub that serves as a multidisciplinary platform for daring and envelope-pushing curatorial initiatives. As a resident curator I worked on putting together exhibitions as well as overseeing additional programming for this alternative space. My residency culminated in the two-part exhibition New York Meets Tbilisi: Defining Otherness that cumulatively presented nine Georgian and five New York-based artists in visual dialogue with each other. Exploring phenomenon of Otherness in various aspects through artworks and finding correspondences as well as contrasts was challenging and exciting. This exhibition project was selected by New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA) for fiscal sponsorship.
Among my publications: “Anna Valdez: Natural Curiosity” (Paragon Books, Berkeley, CA 2019), “Lechaki: Photography of Daro Sulakauri” (ERTI Gallery, Georgia 2018), “The Science, Religion, and Culture of Georgia A Concise and Illustrated History” (NOVA Science Publishing, New York 2017). My articles have been featured in Arte Fuse New York, White Hot Magazine of Contemporary Art, Arte & Lusso Dubai, East European Film Bulletin Berlin, Coeur Et Art, Hyperallergic, Art Spiel, Indigo Magazine, Heinrich Boell Foundation blog.
Selected exhibitions: Defied Logic at Ivy Brown Gallery, New York, This is Not My Tree at NARS Foundation, Brooklyn, Rooms & Beings: Solo of Rusudan Khizanishvili at 68 Projects, Berlin, Defining Otherness Part I at Assembly Room (LES), and Part II at Kunstraum LLC Brooklyn, January-March 2020; King is Female at Villa Wessel Kunstverein, Iserlohn, Germany, October 2018; Natela Iankoshvili Centennial at MoMa Tbilisi, Georgia, June 2018; Conversion Device by Rusudan Khizanishvili at Mark Rothko Art Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia, April 2018.
I have served as a visiting critic for New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation in 2019; International School of Photography, New York in 2019 and 2020; juror for Bronx Council on the Arts New Work 2020; Virtual Visitor for Art Omi residency program in summer 2020; Residency Unlimited studio visitor in spring 2021. In addition, I have facilitated and served as a juror for Grant Initiative in Support of Georgian Artists During Covid-19 in conjunction with Ria Keburia Foundation.
My current and ongoing focus as a researcher and curator is discerning and studying alternative narratives within dominant cultures. You can see my recent reviews, essays, and articles in My Articles section of the website and see installation photos from exhibitions I have curated in Curatorial section.
UPCOMING PROJECTS IN 2021:
In this series of conversations, Tbilisi-born and New York-based curator and art writer Nina Mdivani will profile twelve Georgian women artists. Some of them are known to the wider audience, while some deserve to be rediscovered. Each presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. Below you can find the schedule of our meetings all presented in collaboration with The Georgian Association in the USA:
Meeting One: Natela Grigalashvili & Rusudan Khizanishvili
Date: June 13, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
Meeting Two: Vera Pagava
Date: July 18, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
Meeting Three: Elene Akhvlediani
Date: September 12, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
Meeting Four: Tamar Abakelia & Natela Iankoshvili
Date: October 10, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
Meeting Five: Gayane Khachaturian & Ema Lalaeva-Ediberidze
Date November 14, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
Meeting Six: Esma Oniani & Keti Kapanadze
Date: December 12, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
Meeting Seven:Tamara Kvesitadze & Mariam Natroshvili
Date: January 9, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
You choose here which session or sessions you would like to attend. Please note that we will send everyone who registered reminders one week ahead of each meeting and you may thus get an email about a meeting that you might not have selected. You can see past segments here.
I am also curator of Public Digital Art Fund, a new immersive digital space on busy streets of Moscow City. It continues the 6-year mission of Moscow Public Art Fund to bring new contemporary art for people in the city streets. We started with one main location of Cube and have expanded to 52 screen in Moscow City while collaborating for special events with additional 50 central digital screens across Moscow .
Public Digital Art Fund is a new institution built on the premise to make contemporary video and digital art more accessible and relatable to the wide public through offering a carefully curated content of museum quality art on digital facades of Moscow and Los Angeles. By doing so we are creating new opportunities for the general public to see how rich and multifaceted digital and video art could be and how it could create further grounds for critical discussions. We have worked and continue to invite Russian and Western artists ever expanding our geographic reach and themes that we engage with. The Public Digital Art Fund continues the mission of the Moscow Public Art Fund founded by Ekaterina Korobova 7 years ago.
On September 17 Public Digital Art Fund presented collaboration with globally known, Moscow-Berlin-New York- based digital collective AES+F within CosMoscow Art Fair VIP Program. At 8pm Moscow time full one hour version of AES+F video “Inverso Mundus,” 2015 was presented for attending guests on our flagship digital Cube and 100 other screens in addition to the other highlights of our NFT collection. A shorter version of the video will be available for viewing on our 52+ digital screens across Moscow September 16-October 7.
“The title of the work, Inverso – both an Italian “reverse, the opposite” and the Old Italian “poetry,” and Mundus – the Latin “world,” hints at a reinterpretation of reality, a poetic vision. In our interpretation, the absurdist scenes from the medieval carnival appear as episodes of contemporary life in a multichannel video installation. Characters act out scenes of absurd social utopias and exchange masks, morphing from beggars to rich men, from policemen to thieves. Metrosexual street-cleaners are showering the city with refuse. Female inquisitors torture men on IKEA-style structures. Children and seniors are fighting in a kickboxing match. Inverso Mundus is a world where chimeras are pets and the Apocalypse is entertainment.”
See more in the Pubic Digital Art Fund section on this website.
Theater of the Absurd :Dual exhibition of Roberto Clemente de Leon and Shiri Mordechay.
Border Project Space, October 22- November 13, 2021
Opening: 6-8pm on October 22 at 56 Bogart Street #122, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Text by show’s curator Nina Mdivani.
In the dual show at the Border Project Space, Brooklyn-based drawer and painter Shiri Mordechay and South Carolina-based multidisciplinary artist Roberto Clemente de Leon will present six distinct works that challenge our understanding of shared reality and its norms. Viscerally connected to the Theater of the Absurd, one of the most distinguished cultural movements of the XX century, Shiri Mordechay and Roberto Clemente de Leon dazzle with their alternative ways of seeing human society. The illusive narrative they work with might come across as dark, but nonetheless it is raw and real. As European playwrights Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet and Harold Pinter the two artists address the absurdity of contemporary society. They construct works where humanlike figures, animals and hybrid creatures find their way from a subconsciousness into the daylight and also confront us with the way we treat them. Presenting the works at the Border Project Space known for its experimental approach is timely because both artists speak to the present. They offer a vision that could be our reality, but does not have to be if we make different choices. For Mordechay the setting is her psyche, a dimension that exists within the inner eye consisting of realism of this plane, but also of other imaginary planes. De Leon’s setting is any animal farm across the U.S. and the world where millions of animals are slaughtered based on popular demand.
Mordechay’s dense, large drawings with ink and watercolor consist of self-conscious figurative characters – people, animals, furniture, plants- all arriving in an organic form. Her characters are phantasmagoric and at the same time comic to an absurd degree. They are obscure, yet, they seduce us – as they act out traumas. Domesticated animals are protagonists for de Leon who uses clay, wood, and porcelain. He has consistently interrogated imagery of domestication due to his deep concern for the inhuman reality dominating the U.S. food industry, asking questions of how animals live and how their lives affect ours.
At a time when language is no longer needed in modern society, largely becoming a barrier rather than a way to connect, pantomime and theatrical gestures gain in significance. Therapeutic quality of laughing at our absurd state, at our inability to understand the depth of another person’s suffering can be achieved through looking. Art can stand in as it did throughout the disrupting realities of XX century Europe ravaged by human destructiveness and inhumanity. Existential loneliness of human beings is the main plot of this exhibition and presented art is the means to grasp it.