Tamara Kvesitadze
The Passage

Galerie Kornfeld

September 11–October 31, 2020
September 8, 2020
Opening: September 11, 12–8pm

Galerie Kornfeld
Fasanenstr. 26
10719 Berlin

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Born out of the darkness of quarantine and self-isolation, the new installation by the renowned Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze leads the viewer on an agonizing journey through change, which is both suffocating and hopeful.

Hoards of black birds, eerie and haunting, roam in the seeming chaos yet are controlled by an invisible force, driving them like prey into the trap of the human head that swallows them. This is The Passage, a new work by the celebrated Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze, which she created as the world went into a lockdown. Tamara is known for her kinetic sculptures combining art and engineering. Yet this time the installation is not moving, but the story unfolds as the viewer navigates through it. 

The immersion is almost immediate—the room, which is 16 meters long and 2 meters wide, wraps around the viewer, helped by the light and shade. The birds—sculpted, drawn and reflected by shadow—seem to be everywhere. Squeezed by their aggressive packing, you can almost hear them howling. But it may not be the expression of aggression, but of fear—as the birds approach the human, the walls around them narrow, driving the flock right into the decoy. Without the chance for diversion, they fall victims to the makings of the human mind, which in turn also does not seem to control this co-dependent process. The human here is fixed and is reminding of a utility, whose sole purpose is to consume and convert the incoming force, without much choice. The result is, however uplifting. Having flown through the Passage, the dark mass of whatever it represents loses its threatening energy, coming out as a fine number of ephemeral delicate nestlings. From a certain angle, the viewer loses sight of the dark mass in front of the head, so it becomes a memory. 

The artist admits that the idea came to her during the recent quarantine, imposed by coronavirus: “The Covid crisis has ignited some kind of darkness and I wanted to express what I have been going through to deliver a work of art that was able to be born out of this darkness," says Tamara Kvesitadze. "In an earlier version the birds were supposed to be the flying on the blue background, but out of nowhere this gloom has emerged. This black and white-heavy palette is very real. And I finished this project when the quarantine was lifted.”

The true meaning of the piece is a matter of interpretation, but the message behind it is universal. “We all fear of something,“ says Tamara. “Yet we all have to process our fears, take them in and burn them. I would like it to be less painful, less fearful, so in this work when darkness comes in, the light comes out.” 

Tamara Kvesitadze was born in Tbilisi in 1968. She achieved international appeal through her work with kinetic sculpture, making movement the essence of her creativity. Represented by Berlin-based Galerie Kornfeld, Tamara has exhibited internationally in art fairs, in solo exhibitions and group presentations, including the Venice Biennale in 2007 and 2011. Her work can be found in major public and private collections in France, USA, Germany, UK, Vietnam, China and Georgia. In 2018 Tamara Kvesitadze became one of the few international artists to have a virtual exhibition on Google Arts and Culture, an online platform featuring content from some of the world’s leading museums and archives. In 2019 she was profiled by the BBC World Service programme “In the Studio”, which followed the process of creating the sculpture Sigh for the Wuxi resort in China.

Gallery Weekend Berlin hours
Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13: 12–7pm