Human and economic crises of all sorts are the high price we pay for the freedoms guaranteed on paper but that populations fall short of in reality in many countries, of which contemporary Georgia is no exception. In his Begging (Vedreba) performer and poet Andro Dadiani prays to God begging to save him from all evils: social, political or historical that one can ever imagine. Yet his prayers might seem excessively sacrilegious to traditional church crowds, since they're uttered in an utterly provokative manner, erotically charged and on edge.
Tongues: Andro Dadiani at Anti Babylon Berlin by Panda Platforma
Protruding a tongue like a gesture of an offence or prdetermined insult to hypocrits of all kinds serves as a metaphor in his performances emphasising the prominent role of the native Georgian tongue and generally tongues occupy poets worlds. A chained tongue however speaks obviously of limitations of freedoms pointing to all the consequences that these limitations cause. This inability to freely express oneself either through language poetically or artistically in contemporary Georgia is the major topic that Andro Dadiani deals with in his numerous performances, poems, videos and photographs critically analysing contemporary societies in the post-Soviet, post pandemic, war times.
Political, social and gender injustices that degrade one emotionally and physically are evident in his performance through the meticulously elaborated staging and costume. Apart from wearing one of his signature masks that he constantly has on stage for protection reasons from homophobic attacks, the artist appeared in loosened jeans that he kept holding to prevent from falling. With the whole absurdity of the posture indicating a scandalous, shamed haphazardness of the situation showing an artist in utmost despair, shame and disgrace, begging the saviour to save him from whatever injustices the past, present or future might have in store for him.
Representing an artist in an extreme state of despair stripped by the system almost naked as Andro Dadiani conceives his protagonist alter ego - is not an easy task to perform. The particularly emotional way of reciting made a moving impression, as well as the act of storming into the hall by taking the audiences aback, dragging the heavy long chains across the whole space made quite a stir, to say nothing of phenomenal eloquence. The artist addressed his public not from front stage as most performers do but unconventionally - from the very back almost hidden in the dark corner of the backstage like someone destined to be an outcast and a failure within a prejudiced homophobic society that would not accept and tolerate basic freedoms like those of speech, artistic creativity and gender fairness.
The outcry and rage evident in the way Andro stages himself is made evident in print through his choice of types and fonts in the print editions by means of special visual contrasts: for example the size of letters, fonts, scripts, broken syntax and merging words by omitting blank spaces for more emotional impact. It is the utmost combination of body language, tongues, scripts and gestures as Gesamtkunstwerk that singles him out in an extraordinary manner through staged madness and sensitivity on edge, to the very precarious limits of the possible that the audiences can take.
Anti-Babylon has been organised by the Berlin based Panda Platforma NGO as a poetic festival that invited poets from Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, the Ukraine and Germany. The poets performed in all the respective countries with memorable poetry meet-ups and the final set of performances in Berlin Kulturbrauerei where Panda Platforma has its art space. Special thanks here to Svetlana Müller originally from St. Petersburg who has been the heart and soul of the whole project, the jury member selecting participants for the project from Georgia has been poet Paata Shamugia. The festival is supported by the Goethe Institute, German Federal Foreign Office and other institutions.
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