Fire Walk with Me: Olaf Nicolai Work on Show in Tbilisi

It’s up to the viewer how to read Olaf Nicolai’s circular neon installation at the Café Iveria in Rose Revolution Square.

Nicolai’s creations can be seen in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid and for the next three months, passers-by will be able to enjoy his work in Tbilisi, too.

His installation is presented here by the SOU (Stream Of Unconsciousness) Festival (featuring contemporary music and visual arts) and by the Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project, which aims at changing how contemporary art is perceived by opening the venues where it is shown.

“Our project wants to take art out of the galleries and bring it to the streets” Irena Popiashvili told GEORGIA TODAY.

Nicolai’s works reflect his interests in a wide ranging series of topics: politics, contemporary culture, architecture, natural science, and more.

In his installation at the Café Iveria, his interest in politics is subtlety reflected by the striped wall behind the neon sign. The iris painting technique used - the borderline between stripes of color undefined, and colors melting into each other where they meet, as in a rainbow – was often used in political flyers in the 1960s and 70s.

The neon sign text harkens back to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Fire Walk with Me, a TV series turned film. Together with the striped background, it aims to resemble a flag, like the many that have been waved in this part of the city. The location was chosen by Nikolai because the now Rose Revolution Square was built by Soviet officials to receive marching crowds during parades.

But there is also a time dimension to Nicolai’s work in Tbilisi: the inauguration date, 17th of May. The wall painting alludes to the rainbow flag that is typically waved in demonstrations in support of the LGBT community, to this day a sadly controversial issue.

Nicolai’s brother, Alva Noto, is another artist invited by the SOU Festival. The works of prominent contemporary musicians and artists will be presented from the 18th to 28th May.

After Nicolai, the Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project aims to bring the works of other renowned international artists to Tbilisi.

MJ Riquelme del Valle

19 May 2016 20:51