My “hunt” on Soviet bus stops continues in different regions of Georgia. This time I’m presenting the second (and not the last) part of the collected material.
This isn’t a photo project yet, it’s more of a documentation of currently existing material. Photo project turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Some stops are beautiful in summer, forest as the background; at some places I got when the light was in კონტრაჟურ and at some places – during heavy showers. For example, in high mountainous Adjara, there was such a fog that I could see nothing.
Colorful and sunny mosaics on the streets are replaced by brutal structures. Their design is connected to specific art studios, which were distributed by Aesthetics Institute and Art Combine (?) and finding their authors now is quite hard. Some stops are well preserved and need only a minor restoration, while others will soon disappear forever. While researching their history interesting fact was found: often they were created for specific places; for example in western villages bus stops showed, what village’s collective farm was doing, had it a chicken farm, tea plantation or so on. It should be noted that some of them were like pavilions and their installation / update happened on children’s day or flower festival.
Artist Gia Bughadze spoke with “Radio Tavisupleba” about his experience concerning Soviet bus stops:
“These small spaces were created on certain common aesthetic grounds and expressed socialistic themes. Basically there was a collective farm, how happy people were, who lived in this or that region, mountains, ploughed valleys, merry people, children, suns and etc.
Everything was a political order and the funding and execution of the order was provided by an ‘Art Combine’. For example, things that were made on Soviet bus stops, weren’t mosaic, they were a simple glazed tiles, which were broken and then an image was composed according to different schemes. One of the authors, who created mosaic panels on such sites, was Zhora Bochorishvili. I was 19 and worked with him for may be two weeks. I arranged tiles for him to earn some money, but didn’t stay there for long, I wasn’t quick enough and he kicked me out. There were boys who worked at such a pace that it was totally insane. I couldn’t manage that”.
There is more to be photographed, more mosaics are hiding on the beautiful roads of different regions. The main issue now is not the design, but their value: is it worth it to keep them, do they have some value and generally what should we do with these “road / traffic composition”?
I still think, that the history that Soviet regime created for our country is terrible and should never be repeated, but the cultural heritage that it left, of course, is part of the history and has its own value. We are facing a dilemma now: properly consider them, sort which one of them has some value to us and which not and act according to that.
However, these beautiful mosaics probably don’t need any sorting, only a restoration and public showing can save them.
Author: Nanuka Zaalishvili
English Edit: Meri Khamkhadze