There aren’t any direct flights from Rome to Tbilisi, so the idea to stop over in Athens for a day seemed to come at the right time and place.
I woke up at 4 am to catch a flight at 6 am, in order to be in Athens in the early morning, it felt like being a marathoner rushing to the Athenines stadium on my way to take a portrait of an artist. Soon enough the smell of the sea was swirling through my mind, the idea of Homer and the great storytellers and philosophers of all time makes you wonder about everything you have encountered in your life, but in front of a statue of a Greek Goddess you can realize immediately how pure and simple the meaning of beauty is.
Next day you get in Tbilisi with a bang at 5am, you don’t realise where you are, there aren’t links with anything you’ve ever seen or studied in your life, so you decide to go for a run and get lost in the city. It seems like a place that has been forgot and destroyed for many years, what you’re looking at is what sometimes we might find inside all of us and as soon as we realize we must deal with it, we are already in a place of ease.
I am lucky enough to meet with a few artists that represented Georgia on the previous editions of the Venice Biennale, listening to stories about their life, their country and of people who left it for other other places in search of fortune. The nature is stunning and the Caucasian mountains that divide the middle east with South Russia are impetuous. To get to the border, about 150 miles north of Tbilisi, there is only one road built many years ago by the Soviets to transport troops to Teheran in the Cold War. During the 4h drive to get there the crippled conditions of the road reminded me of the one I once took from Dar es Salaam to the border of Mozambique.
But it wasn’t about the road, what surprised me were the the people living around it, a shepherd with a smile welcoming me back from the trip north.
This isn’t the end of our journey, it was just the beginning of the return. Stopping by in Istanbul to change our flight to Venice, the door to the West used be called and while you land you think about Orhan Pamuk’s “The Museum of Innocence”.
Travelling at night, living in the daytime, the world is here, where we are now, sharing a boat taxi with Yuri Ancarani on our way to enjoy a breakfast at Cafe’ Florian in Venice.
The Biennale is about to start, we spend the day with Carlos Amorales, discussing together while photographing his Mexican pavilion. We head towards an opening, in the street we bump into Mark Bradford and we introduce both artists to eachother, they feel very connected.
Where next? Someone calls you and tells you to meet in the South of France: the address is “Colombe D’Or”, not far from the canyons of “Gorge du Verdon”. Suddenly you are swimming in one of the coldest waters you’ve ever felt, the water pours directly from the snows of those mountains, it takes your breath away like the first kiss.
There are other friends to meet and the city is overwhelming, the parties until late night are stunning and when you see a man having a cigarette break right outside the Bauer Hotel at dawn, you realise that it’s time to go home.
Surrounded by art, the sun reflecting in the Mediterranean landscapes, you breathe and think, everything comes together.