HAVE we ever lived in a time when the international stage hasn't had at least one aggressor? A superpower whose approach to politics leaves us quaking with fear and often for good reason.
A nation whose actions seem to fly in the face of everything we've been working towards globally in terms of rights and progress, but whose lassoing of the east/west debate has done much to create division for its own political benefit (and the detriment of its people).
I could be referring to any one of a number of countries today. And we have our fair share of rogue cowboys on the map. But I'm referring to Russia, and you kind of know it already.
Imagine coming out from under its iron bushel only to find that its new transparency is more the stuff of smoke and mirrors than glass. Imagine finding yourself in a nation which must use its presence in the international arena to air not only its grievances, but its hopes and fears in order to bring attention to the problem with its neighbour, and what it means for us as a global community.
This is where nations like Georgia find themselves. At the foot of Europe, but on the precipice of a geopolitical debate that makes their strategic position more of a hindrance than anything else.
The 56th Venice Biennale is the most heated and political in recent memory. Artists this year are trying to make sense of an ever more complicated world where geopolitical lines are rapidly being redrawn and the tragedy that comes with it is being paid for, not by politicos, but by innocents who are cornered behind their scratchily drawn lines.
Lines that stealthily change. Borders that are redrawn, not on a map, but with fences that get erected in the middle of the night or where disputed, occupied territory expands rather than contracts.
The Georgian pavilion, Crawling Borders, brought to life by Rusudan Khizanishvili, Irakli Bluishvili, Dimitri Chikvaidze, Joseph Sabia, Ia Liparteliani, Nia Mgaloblishvili and Sophio Shevardnadze is a maze of stealth fences, photography, mirrors and glass. The allegory used is that of a DNA chain which functions perfectly well only until something external corrupts it. Despite its unwillingness to host the overpowering, external entity, eventually it is forced to alter its fabric and become something else.
The Georgian pavilion is an unnerving, contracted space that mirrors the occupied territory and the fragmentation that this causes at human level, starting with the children who witness it on a daily basis.
It's an emotive but powerful use of the space: uncomfortable but beautiful in the way that splintering glass can be. The most political of the pavilions I saw at this year's Biennale, but one which I think addresses geopolitics better than anything else.
One of my top six picks for Arsenale. Was it one of yours?
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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