Referring to the ancient Georgian empire of Lazika, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced a large-scale project of the same name on the Black Sea in 2011, which would consist of the construction of an entire new city and a port. In concrete terms, he chose the proximity to the existing fishing village of Anaklia. He chose this place despite, or perhaps because of, the nearby border with Abkhazia, a disputed territory, and planned to develop it into one of the luxury vacation resorts on the Black Sea. Due to the change of government, the prestige project was quickly put on hold and in 2016 was handed over to the private Anaklia Development Consortium, a Georgian-American joint venture. Since then, the Consortium has pursued new plans, now for a privatized smart city called Anaklia City. The planned launch in December 2020 could not be realized due to, among other things, money laundering allegations and the failure to provide loan guarantees. Rather, the Georgian government, although officially still holding on to the project, withdrew from the contract with the Consortium at the beginning of 2020. The future of Anaklia City remains uncertain.
In her work, Tekla Aslanishvili searches for traces of these failed billion-dollar projects – the futuristic city of Anaklia, which has little more to show than the completed but never opened city hall by the architectural firm Architects of Invention and a large-scale sculpture by Jürgen Mayer H., as well as the deep-sea harbor. This was to play the central role in positioning the country as a transit and logistics hub as part of the so-called New Silk Road. Aslanishvili adapts documentary techniques and draws an ambivalent picture by combining different voices on these construction projects with film recordings of the material remains of the various investment waves.
The chosen title of her work is a direct reference to the architect and urban planner Yona Friedman, whose urban space concept Ville Spatiale is also of particular importance for Architects of Invention. Thus Friedman formulated: »I am against any preplanning. It is the trial and error process that pushes forward in any technology.«1
Scenes from Trial and Error is part of an artistic-scientific research project by Aslanishvili; her film Algorithmic Island (2020) was created in this context. (Lisa Bosbach)
My experimental documentaries, video installations and essays explore the intersections between design, history and geopolitics. By focusing on the technological, historical and cultural components of large-scale infrastructure projects, such as smart cities and ports, as well as the extractive and arms industries, my work processes the complex interdependencies at the heart of the global economy. Through my interdisciplinary collaborative practices and the sharing of expertise I often position myself at a distance from local contexts and examines the specific events from different spatio-temporal perspectives. As a result of such speculative approach, my work traces the resonances between seemingly unrelated objects and events: the flowing curves of the sculpture, algorithmically designed for a logistical city of the future, stand for the pursuit of seamless transport logistics; the rotations of the mining machines in peripheral countries indicate the destructive cycle of the German and US defense industries. (Tekla Aslanishvili)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist.
Images: Tekla Aslanishvili, Scenes from Trial and Error, 2020 © Tekla Aslanishvili