Photodocumentation from Gallery Medium, Bratislava
Exhibition entitled Permanent recreation explores the unknown spa and recreational architectural heritage built on the edge of the Soviet Union. It follows the processes of its post-traumatic transformations against the backdrop of political and social crises of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.
The idea of collective recreation embodied in spa architecture represents the condensed ideal of socialist society. Georgia, rich in resources of healing mineral waters was – besides Czechoslovakia – one of the major recreational regions of the Soviet Union. Many of local spa and health centers were designed by a specialised projection institute the Kurort project and epitomize late modernist architectural heritage.
Nevertheless, due to political, economic and social movements in the past 25 years Georgian spa architecture has undergone an extensive and a highly traumatic transformation. The war in Abkhazia in 1992-1993 lead to forced migration of over 200,000 ethnic Georgians from the Black Sea coastal separatist region of Abkhazia to Georgian inland. In trying to find a quick solution to the situation, many migrants have been temporarily moved to modernist hotels or spa resorts. The political crisis has, however, become a long-standing conflict lasting till this day. Thus, many of the migrants became permanent residents of facilities designed for institutionalized collective spa recreation. Many of the buildings were therefore rebuilt into collective residential quarters through random, participatory do-it-yourself processes.
The exhibition does not only refer to current physical situation of the architectural heritage, but rethinks it within its social, political and economic context. Paula Ďurinova’s video is capturing nostalgia for the long left Abkhazian home, while the size of the roomrefers to the newly found home in Georgian holiday complexes (16m2, hotel room size). In the following two rooms topics of architecture and its transformation, diy design, collective and individual memory blend. Large-scale photographs by Andrea Kalinová document spatial and material transformation of the former Georgian spa sanatorium’s architecture into permanent residences. Martin Zaiček’s research elaborates the disintegration of modernist architectural utopias on the backdrop of socio-political changes. Tables with collected materials then serve as architectural archives and archives of collective memory and collective recreation.
This project has been supported using public funds provided by Slovak Arts Council.