Detu & Mariam are two young Georgian artists, playing an interesting game. They transform urban zones, abandoned buildings and forgotten locations into their exhibition spaces by leaving brief statements and questions on the walls. The messages come from Facebook, iOS, Windows and the digital world, in general. Once they appear in a remote place, their meaning is changed. The artists transfer their messages to the society by leaving a great room for as many interpretations as points of view.
Who are Detu & Mariam and how did you come up with Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (http) project idea?
We are artists, curators and researchers. Sometimes we also become detectives, activists, collectors of forgotten stories and archaeologists. In one word I can describe ourselves as gamers, a duo playing different games. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (http) was born several years ago. It started with the Facebook search tab sentence: “Search for people, places and things”. This sentence seemed as a hint, as a prompt, that encouraged us to research internet and collect other different ready-made texts from social media, IT programs, Windows, iOS, etc. These texts from the internet are very interesting and impressive if teared out from their original context. Their original meaning changes and the sentences become questions we want to ask ourselves or others. So placing them in urban areas or in galleries is a way to ask questions loudly.
How do you explain the statements and questions left by you in the urban spaces of the cities? Do you transfer any particular message?
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol is a language of forgotten, abandoned places. Places which are not on the map anymore. Bringing a message to such a context re-creates its initial meaning and transforms the text into content that is multiple and flexible, subjective and personal. So there are as many meanings —of the texts— as people discovering them. It can be a question from another simulated reality. It can be a warning in safe zone, leaked from invisible worlds. It can be a note from future memories.
What role does the contemporary art play in the transformation of post-soviet country like Georgia and its inhabitants?
Well, it should play a big role. But does it? It’s difficult to answer to this question today. For me, art is a weapon for changes. In post-soviet country with post-traumatic stress, contemporary art can be a powerful tool for rethinking past and creating future, like wake up pills for our society.
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Some people still perceive art as something tangible, like a painting or a statue or a monument. Does art have boundaries for you?
Art has no boundaries, it can have any form. It can weigh 1000 pounds or it can be invisible. It’s a condition which you transfer to others with various possibilities. It’s a virus which you spread and after it is out you are not responsible for the consequences. In the post-soviet countries like Georgia, it is not unusual at all that the society perceives art as a canvas on the wall, or a monument of the leader or a hero. But it is just a phase we should pass and free ourselves from soviet traumas.
What are the challenges for creating contemporary art nowadays?
Challenges vary by geography. Generally the system tries to transform art into commodity and urges to tame it, but in Georgia ongoing processes in contemporary art are more free from commercialization. Here art challenges differ from western countries as the structure and system of the contemporary art is still forming itself. On one hand it is a great possibility to experiment, on the other hand it’s quite difficult to work and develop. We are trying to build sand castles on the ruins of totalitarian monster.
Do people understand contemporary art?
Does contemporary art understand people?
Your messages appear in both English and Georgian. How do you choose the language?
We work with different languages. HTTP project is in English, just like most of ready-made texts in internet. Another project we worked on called Homework is in Georgian. The choice of language depends on the content and concept of the project.
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Who has influenced your work and is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
Our work is influenced by the forgotten people from the legends and stories, from mines and slums, from streets and the internet. We would love to collaborate with Kenneth Goldsmith.
Mariam, you are a co-editor of the newspaper Revolver. What do you write about?
Revolver was founded by me and Detu and another art curator, Magda Guruli. We write about contemporary art and publish issues on various topics almost every month. Each publication is a kind of archive, giving an information about all the events, exhibitions, artists in Georgia’s art history. It is very hard to get information in Georgia about artists and especially contemporary artists, so with this newspaper we try to fill in the gap.
Your webstie is called sadarismelia, which means ‘where is the fox’ in Georgian. So, where is the fox?
Well, we are still searching for him. Fox can be anywhere. Let’ see if we can find him.
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