Week 08// 12/11-18/11

This week, there has been so much activity both in the studio and out, through design, making, photography and more. It's been great to see - have a look at the highlights.

DS3 Trip to Georgia // Luis Lopez Leon

3, 2,1 takeoff! Destination: Georgia, and DS3's exciting and eventful trip to this largely unknown and forgotten country. Our site for the year is Anaklia, a small Georgian village that, bathed by the waters of the Black sea, is located right in the border with Abkhazia, a de facto state controlled by Russia since 2008. Whilst the country has had a hard time reconfiguring itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the aggressive neoliberalist reforms implemented by the government that took power after the 2004 Rose Revolution has created an unusual and paradoxical landscape of capitalist investment and opportunities, like the development of a large deep sea port in the village of Anaklia.

The first day we spent discovering the capital, Tbilisi, to acquaintance ourselves with the culture and history of Georgia and understand the transformations it has gone through in the past 30 years. We also met an ex-government minister and the CEO of Anaklia Development Consortium, the company in charge of the deep sea port project. She explained their ambitious project, which longs to become a key infrastructural node in the ‘One belt, one road’ project (also nicknamed the ‘New Silk Road’) and create a prosperous port and state of the art smart city in the mostly uninhabited and swampy lands of Anaklia.

On the second day we wondered around the largely deserted Hua Ling free industrial zone area in the periphery of the city, a large shopping mall complex and associated customs zone built by the large Chinese corporation, that clearly exemplifies decentralisation and delegation of state competence to private companies (goods pass through the Georgian border without control, which happens here without any state involvement).

The afternoon we spent in the Tbilisi architecture biennale that focused on informality and staged itself in the soviet housing Microraion complex in Gldani neighbourhood. As the evening kicked in we enjoyed an hour in the baths; relaxing, drinking wine and sharing stories (doesn’t get more Georgian than that!) and later partied the night away in Bassiani, Tbilisi's largest and most famous nightclub which is central to the polemic ‘rave revolution’ that confronts the country’s young liberal youths with conservative right groups.

The third day we investigated the city on our own for a few hours before embarking on the 5 hour bus drive to Batumi, a port city that has seen a lot of capital investment because of its logistical importance in the transport of petrol. The next morning we wondered around Batumi and then, after lunch, hopped on the bus and headed towards our site, the village of Anaklia. We didn’t really know what to expect but the surreal walk along the seafront promenade that starts in the port construction and abruptly ends in the Abkhazia border dotted with leftover structures and props of the government funded Gemfest festival was probably beyond any of our imaginations.

The second day in Anaklia started with a tour of the construction of the port by the site manager himself that explained the ongoing dredging process and how they were using the sand extracted from the sea bed to elevate the ground and create appropriate ground conditions to construct the port. During the remaining part of the day we explored the town in groups, focusing on acquiring the required information to improve the studios site map of the locality. That night we got the party started at the local restaurant when the sweet owner brought out a bottle of chacha, a strong local spirit… and the rest is history!

The next morning we headed to Lazika, a smart city dream of the previous government a few kilometres down the roadputitiv that never quite materialised and of which only a large parametric sculpture and the intended justice house building actually exist, in an advanced state of disrepair and abandonment. That afternoon the kind Levan was waiting for us in the city of Chiatura to take us on a tour of this city that, just like Anaklia, had sprung up out of an infrastructural need and vision at the end of the 19th century when manganese deposits were discovered in the region. That night we slept in Kutaisi, from where we had our flight back the next morning. On the plane we flew over Anaklia, with the great Caucasian mountains as a backdrop. As the trip came to an end, and reflecting back such a complex and shifting site in an already challenging context, we must hold on to the tutors words of wisdom for the months ahead: whilst buildings are not enough, buildings do a lot and precisely focusing and understanding what and how buildings do what they do is how the profession can make a difference.

Small Publishers Fair, London // Marijke Kirchner

This weekend Conway Hall in London saw the the small publishers fair taking place. An international gathering celebrating books collated by artists, writers, book designers – and their publishers. The fair included several readings, talks, a special exhibition by Laurie Clark and book launches. Its homely but creative ambiance was reinforced by its venue, Conway Hall, a place known for its support of ‘intellectual, political and cultural life’ in London. Of the 60 publishers in attendance, only few would be known to somebody outside the publishing industry, however, this situation was quickly changed by spokespeople populating their books at the fair. Glen Holman & Andy Parsons of Floating World Books held a workshop on how to fail more successfully to promote the lithograph Fail to Succeed and Imogen Reid, Emma Bolland, and Helen Clark of Gordion Projects presented and discussed several new pamphlets that utilise exploratory typography and publishing to delve into photography and film and many more. Naturally, publishing is a business, so for many small publishers the fair was an ideal opportunity to promote and sell their wares to anybody attending it. Funnily enough, you cannot escape the amazing connections Oxford Brookes University has in the publishing industry. It is true, be it far away or close-by, you meet graduated from the esteemed institution anywhere. Currently, Conway Hall carries exhibitions unrelated to publishing, including the them ritual, e.g. friends & family, performance & activism which ties in well with OSA’s current issue ‘Ritual’ which is still open to submissions until the 16th of November 2018. So, let us see your amazing ideas and creations. Be brave.

What's On

Oxford Christmas Lights Festival - Pitt Rivers Museum, 16th November

Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers - V&A Museum, London

Fashioned from Nature - V&A Museum, London

Student of the Week

Our student of the week this week is Charlie Pye, who was nominated for his work's clear progression through drawing, system, process and photography. We also love the dramatically lit final images.

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