Dr Radunović questions the status of nature in Georgian avant-garde art writing, visual art and film in the period between 1915-1930. Man’s relationship to nature under the conditions of modernity was a major concern of the early Soviet period. It remains a pressing issue in our own time. This talk will appeal to anyone interested in film, ecology and the environment, and how local, ‘vernacular’ forms might contest dominant forms of representation.
The programmatic statement that nature is “the finest teacher,” which can be found in early cogitations on art by the pioneer Georgian modernist painter Davit Kakabadze (1915), is effectuated by the preponderance of natural spaces in Kakabadze’s art in a long historical span from the 1910s to the 1930s.
Highly uncharacteristic of either side of the modernism/realism divide in the Soviet Union (Kakabadze resides on the tangent of both camps), this phenomenon is further attested in Kakabadze’s work as set designer on Nutsa Ghoghoberidze’s long considered lost kulturfilm Buba (1930). Set at the eponymous glacier in the Upper Racha region of Georgia, this educational film defies the rules of its genre and the “conquests of nature” discourse more generally, to put forward a different, untoward visual narrative. By anthropomorphising the landscape of the glacier and by staging a cohabitation of man and nature, Ghoghoberidze’s modernist ways of seeing elevate Kakabadze’s bucolic vision to an original, yet ideologically highly incongruous, vernacular aesthetics.