Zaza Shatirishvili and Paul Manning – Why are the Dolls Laughing? Tbilisi Culture between “High Art” and Socialist Labor.

In the mid-1990s at least two peculiar art exhibitions were held in Tbilisi.  One of them was called chemi tojinebi (‘My Dolls’), no one can remember what the other one was called, only that it happened. What is peculiar about these exhibitions is that they were exhibitions of dolls, made by Georgian artists and intellectuals.  These exhibitions of dolls illustrate the emergent antinomies of Georgian urban life under postsocialism in several ways. What could be more dissonant than the grim realities of everyday life in Tbilisi of the mid 1990s, a period of war, chaos, poverty, gloom, and the happy childlike figure of the doll?

Shatirishvili, Z., and Manning, P. (2011). “Why are the Dolls Laughing? Tbilisi between Intelligentsia Culture and Socialist Labour”. Caucasus Paradigms: Anthropologies, Histories, and the Making of a World Area,edited by Bruce Grant & Lale Yalçın-Heckmann. Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia 13. Berlin: LIT Verlag

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