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I_Residency: Projects created by female artists duos during isolation
Photographs: Louisa Chalatashvili
Text: Maka Kukulava
- Mother! Mom! You came?!
- Tina! Tina, where are you?
- I am here!
- My god, what’s going on here?
- Sorry, I’ve escaped form home… I fell down and damaged leg, don’t rebuke at me…
- My god, Tina, show me! How could you fall down? Can’t leave you even for five minutes, I just went to throw the garbage away, what were you thinking of?! Why did you get up at all?! Why? Shouldn’t you be careful? Can’t you see, you’re like a feather, you can hardly toddle around…
- I’m sorry…
- What shall I do now? Don’t you care of me? You know what the time’s like, we can’t even call the doctor, and nobody’s gonna come to help, if something happens, come on, come on…
- The grass was high, my foot twisted and I fell down, it’s not my fault, don’t start at me, please…
- I am not starting at you, no…
- Won’t you let me out again?
- Stand up, stand up…
- Won’t you let me out? You will, won’t you? Please, don’t lock me up again…
- Here, lean on me, we were lucky, one thing we did not want now is fracture…
- I wanted to pick flowers for you, look, they’re beautiful, aren’t they…
- Come along, come…
- No, do you like them?
- Yes, I like them, I do, they’re wonderful…
- You really like them?
- Oh, my, I like them, thanks a lot!
- Mom, why don’t I ever saunter here?
- Where, Tina? Don’t drive me mad. Step over here…
- Here, on this meadow…
- Tina, this wallpaper is here since I can remember, I think it’s even from your childhood. What’s the matter with you now? Leave me alone! Come this way, this way…
- I don’t want to stay home! I’m not coming! I want to be here, at the waterfalls…
- Enough, Tina! Come, sit, here’s your armchair. Well done, yes… I will serve the food now, it’s dinner time…
- I’m not hungry!
- Wait, what’s this? Did you wet yourself again? Oh, come on! You have this pot next to your bed, and next to your armchair, why do you do this? Why? Are you trying to get me? You were born to torture me, right?.. Come to the bathroom, come…
- I don’ t need the bath…
- Good, lean on me! Good, well done! Your hair is totally white, but let’s dye it tomorrow, for your birthday…
Nina (65) takes her old mother Tina (85) to the bathroom. Nina is wearing the medical face mask on her chin. In the room, at the spot where Tina has fallen down, we can see the battered old wallpaper depicting the flowering meadow.
Tina sleeps in an armchair. She hears noise and opens her eyes.
- Nina? Nina, is that you?
- Yes, yes, that’s me, who else can it be?!
- I dozed off…
- Stay there, don’t stand up, it’s good that you had a nap, I’m cleaning up things here…
Tina takes walking-stick and goes to the bedroom.
- Oh, it’s you again, isn’t it? How did you come in? Where is Nina? Can’t you hear me? I’ve just been speaking to her, where did she go?
There is a woman with her back to Tina, facing the wardrobe in the room. She clears up the wardrobe. Dresses are lying here and there on the bed.
- What are you doing? What are you doing? It’s Nina’s wardrobe, keep your hands off her clothes!
Woman turns to Tina. She’s wearing medical face mask.
- These dresses do not suit you, and neither can I think of doing anything to them, so I will pile them with the clothes I want to give to church and will take them there later…
- Keep your hands off of Nina’s things, can’t you hear me?! Now! How many times have you turned this house upside down, who gave you the right to do so?!
Woman continues without paying attention.
- If you only knew, how huge a thing I’ve just accomplished, I freed so much space in the wardrobe…
- No, I can’t bear this! I shall tell Nina to kick you out of here!
Tina goes out of the room to the hall.
- Tine, what are you doing there? Tina! Tina, what are you doing? Why are you shaking that door? It is locked, you can’t go out, no! Haven’t you listened to TV?! Go, sit at your place!
- Leave me alone! Don’t touch me!
- Tina, come, for the god’s sake…
- I don’t trust in that god of yours! And never have I trusted either, gosh!
Woman walks Tina to the armchair.
- No, please, explain me, did you tell her to leave?
-Whom, mom, whom did I tell?
- You, don't call me mom! How could I have a daughter as old as you are? As if it’s possible… I think I’ve seen you somewhere, though. Can you tell me, where we have met?.. Now, look at her, she wouldn’t even answer, how rude of you… Hey, you, pass me the phone, please, I shall call Rusiko… Thank you very much…
Hullo, Rusoshka, how are you doing, my darling? Did Nina show up at yours? No? And she did not call either? Yes, she’s out again for few days now… I can’t get where she’s going so frequently… maybe something’s going on, but she wouldn’t tell me… but why would she be hiding things from me? Well, here, this old lady is at our place again… I don’t know, I believe she’s waiting for Nina too… she’s cleaning and brushing everything like nuts, every time she’s here. She wears the mask all the time and never removes it. She says nobody shall contact me without it, but she should ask whether I want to contact her at all in the first place! Maybe Nina is hiding from her, and that’s why she escapes every time this old lady comes, how one can know… But how does she come in, or where does she come from, I tell you, she never tells me anything. And then, she drives me mad, she takes out a lot of things… she took away half of the house belongings, and she throws away our things, I believe, but how can I possibly know? I can hardly walk. I can’t even resist and I am so worried. When Nina returns, she won’t recognize the place, and what shall I tell her, what? Now she’s got into a wardrobe again, she’s been looking for something, for sure, she took out all Nina’s dresses… but I’m afraid to tell her anything. What if she just hits me over my head? No, what do you mean I’m imagining things, Rusiko? I don’t understand what you are suggesting! You should be ashamed! Good buy then, dear…
- Hey, you, I am sorry, but are going to stay here tonight too?
Tina is sitting in her armchair. Several little girls of different ages ramble around the room.
- Tina, you should eat…
- That’s true, Tina, you haven’t had anything today…
- Tonight we will wash ourselves…
- We can’t be unwashed on our birthday, right?
- When mother comes, she will wash us…
- And she will dye our hair…
- Oh, my, who the hell are you? Wait till Nina comes and kicks all of you out of here!
- Oh! Come on!
- Now I will go and find out where my daughter went all by myself!
- You can’t go anywhere, the door is locked!
- Mom said you can’t go outside!
- And can you tell me who your mother is?!
- Nina is our mother, as if you don’t know, just like yours!
- Nina has no kids! Nina has only me! Get out of here now!
The girls don’t pay attention to Tina. Some climb on the top of the wardrobe, some on the table. They play, laugh, sing, make noise.
- Shh! Hush! You’re too noisy! Calm down! Can’t you hear? Listen to me for a moment… you know what I want you to tell me? You should know, how I can get out of here, well you did enter, didn’t you? I will go out just for 5 minutes and will be back soon, don’t you know where the key to the door is?
- No, Tina, you can’t do that!
- We can’t let you out!
- Mother said no!
Tina tries to get out of the armchair, girls surround her, do not let her move. Tina tries to get rid of them.
- Leave me alone, get out of here!
The girls resist her.
- We can’t let you out!
- Mom will go ballistic!
- Oh, I don’t want to be here anymore!
- I want to pee!
- Will mother come soon?
- I am bored!
- I don’t want to be here with this old Tina anymore!
- Really, why did she leave us here for so long?
- I am hungry!
- Let’s go!
All of them start crying together. Tired Tina settles back in the armchair.
- Tina! Tina! What did you dream of? I’ve been checking the exam papers in the next room, are you okay?
Tina and woman with white hair in mask sit at the table. Woman reads. Tina stares at her, she is observing.
- Will you go or stay today?
Woman does not answer.
- You know why I am asking? Tomorrow is my birthday, the visitors will come, just like every year, and I want to clarify things with you. When they come, I shall explain them who you are and why you are here, where is Nina, etc., shall not I? Nina is throwing my birthday party every year. Every single year! And she will be here tomorrow for sure! At least that’s what I expect.
- Who knows, maybe it’s the last birthday in my life…
Woman cynically looks at her.
- Come on, darling, don’t make me cry now. You’re so tough, you’ll be here till the last of us goes, and only after will you depart, don’t worry about this…
- What did you say? How dare you?! This is unimaginable! Get out of here! Now!
Woman stands up and closes windows.
- Why do you close these windows? Why?
Woman goes out of the room.
- Well, now she’s out! Go wherever you like! How did I get into this condition, what’s happening here?.. Oh, my, how good have I been, how good everything was, it was just wonderful...
She turns on TV. There are news on it.
- To hell with your virus. You messed up my whole life!
Tina sits on the chair at the table. She is surrounded by the little girls again.
- Maybe we shall wait for a while?
- No, it’s time, can’t you see, it turned black already?
- It turned black, but it won’t remain black after she washes it off…
- And what color will it be?
- Red, you fool, Tina has red hair, don’t you know?!
- Okay, let’s start…
- Should not we wait for mother?
- No, no! Nina will come directly for the party and we will be done by then!
- Well, okay, shall we start then?
- Here, Tina, fix your head!
- Don’t shake it!
- Tina, when you’re moving like this, dye gets to your ears!
- Don’t move, I’m switching to the eyebrows!
Tina obeys. She seems to be wanting to say something, but she’s cautious, waiting for the appropriate moment.
- Listen, girls, who lets you in when you come here? One old lady is rambling around here sometimes, and is that her? I will ask you one thing secretly, but you don’t give me away. Can you find out where she keeps the key? And when you leave, can I come along?
- No, Tina, you can’t go out of here, we told you so many times.
- Okay! Finished! We dyed you everywhere…
- Now look, set the timer, it says thirty minutes…
- That’s too much…
- No, that’s what it says…
- If you’re not going to help me with getting out of here, then get lost and leave me alone, now!
Tina is trying to repel the girls by waving hands. The dye bowl falls to the floor.
- Tina, what’s all this noise about?! Oh, my, what’s going on here? What is this? What have you done? You have a dye all over your face, how can I remove it now? What is this, or how did you open it, or how did you create all this mess, my god, I am a human being, am not I? Don’t I have a right to sleep? I can’t stand it anymore!
Smartly dressed Tina sits at the table. Her hair and eyebrows are fiery red. There are dye stains on her face here and there. Woman in mask sits at the other end of the table. There are cake, tea and sweets on the table.
- Thanks, thanks a lot, my sweet Rusoshka. I see, I see… what can we do… of course, the next year, if we reach the next year… you don’t say… I am waiting for Nina, yes. Seems like she’s sent this cake and sweets. My guest and I are eating now. That’s right, that lady, who I told you is coming here time after time… yes, yes… she’s here again, yes… she just doesn’t talk to me, and you know, how chatty I can be, I would speak to Nina for hours, but I bored this one with so many questions, I guess… I just want to know, who she is, where she came from, maybe we can even make friends… well, okay, don’t start it over. Many kisses my dearest and thank you very much...
Tina hangs up the phone. Stares at unfamiliar woman.
- Can’t you remove this mask at least today?
- Today is your birthday, so everything’s possible…
Woman removes mask. Two old women sitting at the table are carbon copies of each other.
- Well, still can’t recognize me?
Tina shrugs her shoulders.
- Since you ask for it, I cannot refuse. Today, I will speak and you listen. I am Nina, your daughter. Daughter, whose aging you refuse to admit. You say that you lost her, can’t find her and you’re looking for her everywhere. I lost my mother long ago too, mother that I loved so much, whom I can’t find anymore…
Now, I am an old lady too, old like you… you made me age within these four walls. I loathe you! I’ve been your prisoner for 65 years. Each day I wanted to have a new life. Few times I even tried to escape, but I always returned, because I got used to this captivity and it even became sweet.
Now, I won’t let you out…
I know, I shall say farewell to you, and if I’ll be able to do so, everything will go painlessly. But I can’t… I am waiting for you to die on your own. But you don’t. Because I don’t let you go. If something happens now, even burying you will be a problem, I don’t know how will I be able to handle this process alone…
- Okay, it’s time to blow out the candle, let’s lit it…
Nina lights the candle.
- Here, prepare, Tina. Did you make a wish? Are you ready?
Tina keeps silent.
- Let’s blow together, if you want. Come, one, two, and three!
Nina blows out the candle. Tina sits motionless. Tears are coming down her face.
- Mommy, mom, let me out, please, why won’t you? I beg you, I want to play with kids, everybody’s outside. Today is my birthday, let me out…
- Okay, okay, I have a present for you, it’s in the hall, next to the mirror. Go, look at it…
Tina goes out to the hall. Other little girls are waiting for her there.
- Tina, look, here’s the present for you, mom left it; there, next to the mirror; go, get it… take it and come with us, just silently follow us…
Tina sees the key next to the mirror. She and girls open the door and get outside.
Nina is sitting alone at the served table in the room.
- Tina, don’t go… don’t leave me… please, come back… come back… how can I live alone, without you… I can’t live alone, without you… I don’t know, what it’s like to live without you… come back… won’t you?
I_Residency (inside, isolation residency) project was created in partnership with the Tbilisi Photography and MultimediaMuseum and Tbilisi Photo Festival with support of the UNDP and the Governmentof Sweden through the UN Joint Project for Gender Equality.