Georgian artist ANDRO WEKUA opens his exhibition “Pink Wave Hunter” tonight at the Benaki Museum in Athens, inaugurating a new collaboration between the Benaki and the Deste Foundation. Wekua uses mixed media, sculpture, and installation to channel personal memory and the political history of his native Caucasus region into narratives that vacillate between the ultra-real and dream-like fictions. For “Pink Wave Hunter” the artist presents a series of sculptural models of buildings drawn from memories of his childhood in the popular seaside town Sukhumi, Georgia, where Wekua lived until his family was forced to flee during the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict of the 1990s. The town was subsequently devastated by the civil war, leaving the artist and his family part of the Georgian diaspora unable to return to home.
Like a post-Soviet iteration of Superman’s Kandor—the capital city of the superhero’s devastated home planet, Krypton, which was preserved in miniature in a glass jar—Wekua’s Sukhumi is a sentimental play between reality and representation. The sculptures are conjured from the artist’s personal recollection (and supplemental online research) and therefore contain blank spaces that correspond to what Wekua terms “memory gaps.” “I am more invested in the architecture of this city, and how its nature is being conserved and untouched while being allowed to deteriorate,” Wekua says. “For me this city is constantly unreachable, a mirage of sorts. Maybe this city does not and has never existed.” Presented on simple tables or risers, the moderately scaled architectural forms offer a melancholic presence synonymous with empty stage sets and movie facades, an enigmatic tableau that questions the intersections of history, memory, and fantasy.
For more information on Andro Wekua, see 032c‘s portrait of the artist.