Andro Wekua’s installation in the 55th Carnegie International entitled “Get out of my room” is a hauntingly evocative piece. John Eastman interviews the young Georgian-born artist.
Your work addresses myth and claustrophobic seclusion. Tell me about those two subjects– how and why they are represented in your body of work?
WEKUA: “Get out of my room”, which is exhibited at Carnegie, relates to two opposites. Although the work is meant to be exhibited and looked at, the figure in the installation is secluded, and resists being looked at. Having no eyes keeps it as an inanimate figure. Not having eyes allows the viewer to project onto the figure but it keeps the figure from connecting back.
You were born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in a town I believe that is now a forbidden or inaccessible area. When did you leave there? What was life like there and what was it like being an artist there? Was your experience there generally positive or negative?
WEKUA: The city where I was born, Sukhumi is located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. It was a port city and a holiday resort. I left in 1992, when I was 15 and have not been back since, it’s been inaccessible to Georgians. Attending to the Art academy there and the social aspect of my experience there is really important to me. Despite the war and other complications, I have very good memories.
Have you gone back to Georgia? Do you have family or friends there? Do you communicate with people there?
WEKUA: I travel to Georgia once in a while. My brother and a few friends live there.
Some of your installations provide a type of stage setting, cast, and narrative or discussion for the viewers review. What is it that you would like the viewer of your work to come away with or think about when seeing your work?
WEKUA: I am happy when the work becomes autonomous and makes me into a distanced viewer. I am also happy when viewers interpret the different elements of the work for themselves.
Its been written that your work is representative of mythical place, a type of no-mans-land and that it is often derived from your childhood memories. Does your work present your memories of what once was but is now forever gone in Georgia?
WEKUA: Inevitably, some biographical elements come into play, but I never intentionally reference Georgia or my experience there. There are some memories that stay vivid, despite the experience itself being long gone. There is always a chance of having invented these memories myself, and never being sure since I can’t check.
Can you take me through your creative process from conceptualization to end-piece and describe for our readers your methods? Do you do a study or small scale work up of your project before it is undertaken?
WEKUA: Sometimes I start with writing or by looking at images. Sometimes I make sketches. But most often things (the texts, collages, paintings, sculptures and films) get made simultaneously and work comes out of previous work.
Did you come to the U.S. for The Carnegie International “Life on Mars” installation? If so, what is your impression of the U.S. and its people here?
WEKUA: No, I could not come although I wanted to. I hope to come while the exhibition is on. But the few times that I have been to the U.S., I had a good feeling about being there.
What are you working on at present?
WEKUA: I’m on holidays now.