In 2014 artasfoundation initiated a choir project in Georgia: we invited the Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta Kalleinen to realize a Complaints Choir together with the Georgian villagers and the refugee population. The project was scheduled between February 23 and March 23, 2014. Link to the film.
The Complaints Choir (www.complaintschoir.org) is a way to trigger occasions for gatherings and conversations through art. People, who have experienced the powerlessness of expulsion, prevented return and unemployment, were invited to discover, use and present their potential of creativity and productivity. The choir lent a public voice to an often silenced population of refugees.
To realize the Complaints Choir, inhabitants and refugees from various emergency shelters and villiges around the provincial capital Gori were invited to participate in the project. The choir was established together with a local musician/composer and choir leader. Contrary to our hope of involving mostly adult people, in particular young women with children, it was mainly children and youth who took part in the choir. About 35 of them met for regular rehearsals in Khurvaleti settlement. At the end of the workshop period concerts of the Complaints Choir were held in the villages and settlements of the participants as well as in Gori and Tbilisi.
After the series of concerts, artasfoundation attempts to establish regular weekly choir rehearsals, once more trying to especially invite young women from IDP settlements who already have a family. They are those with least mobility, most tied to the traditional family structures, with reduced space for a personal live and an accomplishment of other wishes and needs. Perhaps choir rehearsals can create occasions for new encounters and opportunities.
Choir singing is deeply rooted in the Georgian culture. Georgians have originated the tradition of polyphonic singing and sustained, nursed and practiced it even under the most adverse conditions.
The two Finnish artists stayed both in Tbilisi and Khurvaleti, a refugee settlement near Gori where artasfoundation already had worked the year before. artasfoundation continued working with the local NGO Biliki from Gori, who had helped us in establishing contacts with the inhabitants and delegates of the lDP population. Together with the Georgian architect Natia Kapanadze, the artist Linda Pfenninger from Zurich supported the project on behalf of artasfoundation.