Introduction Text

Thea Djordjadze: all building as making

Thea Djordjadze, She didn’t have friends, children, sex, religion, marriage, success, a salary or a fear of death. She worked, 2014 (detail)

Thea Djordjadze’s (b. 1971, Tbilisi, lives and works in Berlin) work is anchored in process, based on an ongoing flow of reusing, reconfiguring and rearranging objects. At the Gropius Bau, Djordjadze combines parts of previous installations with new objects. This creates a dialogue between her past and present works, as well as connecting respective institutions. The artist’s interest in shaping material in relation to space is precise, though too can be very subtle, and happens mainly during the exhibition’s installation. Wall texts are omitted so as not to distract from or interfere with the audience’s experience of space. The artist often dispenses with attempting to ascribe words to the feeling of space that she creates, opting instead to let visitors explore her installations intuitively while moving through the exhibition.

Influenced by both historical artefacts and modern art and architecture, her sculptural works have a distinctive aesthetic with unexpected contrasts, including small nuances, peripheral details and subtle perfections or imperfections. Djordjadze uses materials such as foam, textiles, wood, metal, plaster and glass. Some of her objects appear delicate, implying transience and changeability, while others are distinctly defined, suggesting the functionality of institutional display devices via frames and vitrines. The artist also references everyday objects such as chairs, shelves and architectural elements.

Thea Djordjadze, Installation view (detail): Projects 103: Thea Djordjadze. Space under, MoMA PS 1, New York, 2016

Thea Djordjadze, Installation view (detail): Projects 103: Thea Djordjadze. Space under, MoMA PS 1, New York, 2016 © Thea Djordjadze / VG Bild-Kunst 2021, Bonn photo: Pablo Enriquez

Introduction

Djordjadze highlights incidental things by actively pursuing elements like light and time within her exhibitions. She engages deeply with location and, as such, leading up to the show at the Gropius Bau, she spent extended periods in the exhibition rooms. She observed how the levels of light saturation differed according to the seasons, and even throughout the day, resulting in an ever-shifting experience of space. For Djordjadze, this feeling is also influenced by a building’s function or institutional status, as well as it use value or purpose.

The complex history of the Gropius Bau’s own building and its changing purpose influenced the artist’s feel of the rooms. The exhibition all building as making suggests ways in which a static building can be activated by the fluid act of making, energising both material and space to bring new life to architecture.

Thea Djordjadze, To be in an upright position on the feet (studio visit), 2016 Installation view, Secession 2016

Thea Djordjadze, To be in an upright position on the feet (studio visit), 2016, Installation view, Secession 2016 © Thea Djordjadze / VG Bild-Kunst 2021, Bonn, courtesy: Secession Wien, photo: Sophie Thun