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13 Sep 2020

I_Residency: Projects created by female artists duos during isolation


Permanent expectation of the unclear future

Photographs: Tako Robakidze

Text: Nestan Nene Kvinikadze 

Method of Dressing Soul in Isolation





My older sister was preparing for the premiere of English-language show at school. I knew, she was playing the role of fairy. I was happy. When I got to the premiere, I discovered that my sister is fairy, but she appears only in the scene, where evil wizard turns her into old woman. My sister came out to the stage bow-backed, in ragged dress, and artistically bended collected twigs in the imaginary forest. Then she spoke to Cinderella: oh, you are so kind… she said some more phrases, which I can’t recall now, and departed to the backstage. My eyes were full of tears then. Today, standing in the kitchen and distantly watching my clothes, various size bags and belts symmetrically arranged on the hangers, I think that I’ve been deceived now too, I too was given the different role.

All of us – dead or alive – were together in the quarantine. The childhood scenes were so convincing. All of us played so well. Nobody wished to end this game.

In my childhood, I was dreaming about that noisy soviet cash register that stood at the shop counters. The drawer would unexpectedly jump out and ruble bills of various nomination arranged in respective compartments would become visible.

We often were having vacation in Sochi. It was exactly there that I would stare at the cashiers, who bravely tapped at these magic keys. Their mouth would also move soundless. I don’t know why. I always heard: “vosem, tri… vosem, tri” (eight, three… eight, three), followed by the sound of drawer popping out. That’s why, I named this magic box: “vosem, tri, tkhitkhitkhi”. To put it briefly, this dumb, ugly, but for me absolutely magical machine became my dream. My father promised me that his friend, director of department store in Tbilisi, would soon write-off such machine and bring it to me. Write-off – that was the first time I heard this word.

Writing-off never happened.

The time has passed. One day, my father brought home some large object. My heart went crazy, they removed packaging, my father said: “I was unable to get that machine anywhere, so, I brought a typewriter. It looks like the one, and, besides, you can type whatever you want”.

Successful writer in America would use this fact as an effective answer to the question: “how did you come to writing?” But saying so in our country would be stupid and, besides, this was not the reason for me to start writing.

I move furniture almost every day. I fight this claustrophobic givenness, this immobility with the daily changes. “Why don’t you watch porn?” – asks my older, 11 year old. “Merry me, you say you love me, don’t you?” – says younger, 6 year old twin. Kids call me from every room. They ask which is higher, Eiffel Tower or our TV tower, and if there are any real persons in animation, except for operators.

All of a sudden fear takes a hold of me – can I be pregnant? I don’t want the fourth kid. Then I remember that my friends dream about having kids. I get angry at myself.

I permanently think of those women, who are locked up by the quarantine together with the violent husbands in Kavlashvili-designed flat.

And of those women, majority of whom is repeatedly told that they are 50 already. But they are 50 YET.

Home chores and professional activities get to each other’s throats. I wash dishes and throw the memories like the tranquilizer pills into my mouth. I try to pull out most bourgeois, most appealing memories. I remember Stockholm, the Nobel Museum – they had exhibition of Churchill’s paintings. I remember Orhan Pamuk removing the watch from his wrist and sipping the water from glass before beginning the Nobel speech.

The whole strip of Cote d’Azur comes before my eyes. Cold wine and vanilla body butter rubbed into the sundried skin.

I turned on the vacuum cleaner and pretend to be in airplane. Alone. This loneliness feeds the soul. Seeing all the items fit in into my small beg brings me an awesome coziness. When the plane starts descending, I take wet wipe and attentively clean all my facial features. Then, I repeat the same motion with lotion. I apply moisturizer. Add a lipstick and put the sunglasses on. I look forward to the moment, when I lit the first cigarette on the foreign land. And I do. Taste of tobacco is not very pleasant, but I need it.

I don’t know yet, what I will see in New York. I don’t know yet that I will lose the phone in Metropolitan Museum. Later, I will find out that it was stolen and will leave a notification for the thief.

I love this trip: when I flied from Warsaw to Vienna, then went to Czech Republic, took last vacant seat on the bus going to Brno, and, the next day, found myself in absinth bar in Ostrava with wonderful Czechs.

Czech girls keep strange things in their handbags. Rather unexpected, than strange. In absinth bar, translator Clara took out the bottle of milk from her handbag and poured it into her glass. Meanwhile, at the same table, the absinth was dripping from mysterious device and through the loaf-sugar into my glass.

I always believed that travel stops the time. Because, when you are away, too many things happen in one day. Sometimes, it’s even impossible to fit so many things in just 24 hours. It’s like you’re stealing time from your life and trying hard to conceal stolen.

I am baking the cake. My grandmother Tina Demetradze spent decades in the kitchen, and turned it into the means of fighting. This was her main and firm ground. I was unable to withstand even two months. And if I were able to stay there for a while, that’s because my dead were helping me. Everyone to his possibilities. Some helped me in pulling out these heavy memories, some told me ingredients for dressing. Dressing for survival. The boredom can kill a man as good as virus or husband.

Roses blossom in the yard. Though these are the flowers planted by Izo Granny, I call them Eric Rohmer’s roses. One can see the roses of exactly the same color in his films.

I joyfully boil pasta, because I managed to finish the text – what the attempts of artistically taking over the world look like? This or that text, sometimes turbid, sometimes kept in a non-turbid form, will stand before me with its peculiar rudiment. Sometimes, the parts are not even proportionally placed, somebody’s artistic objective remains unachieved.


Day 57.

I lost 6 kilos. Cut my hear. Called Milena to my home for pedicure. Made her to retell me the story of road from Abkhazia during the war. She begun with that famous ship. Why did not you take that dog then? – I joke. We laugh.

Life starts to return to its usual course, we’re all mixed up – dead and alive. It seems like everybody remembered of some insignificant business. We disbanded without saying goodbye.

Night fell.

I lull the kids.

They fall asleep.

It’s silent.

Whole city is silent.

(I look out of the window)

What’s this? Seems like something flew by. Is it a magpie or some other bird?

(Kisses me on the shoulder and looks out of the window)

It’s a magpie.


June 2020





 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.