Experimental documentary focuses on railroads as political borders

A State in a State, an experimental documentary by Georgian artist, filmmaker, and essayist Tekla Aslanishvili, is being screened for free at Bacolod City’s Art District.

The 2022 single-channel film traces the construction, disruption and fragmentation of railroads in the South Caucasus and Caspian regions. It studies the tracks as the technical materialization of the fragile political borders that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It likewise explores how the iron foundations of connectivity can be used for exclusion and geopolitical sabotage.

A State in a State was developed through an artistic-scientific collaboration with Dr. Evelina Gambino, Margaret Tyler Research Fellow in Geography at the Girton College of the University of Cambridge. It was produced by the Han Nefkens-Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Grant 2020 in cooperation with Art Jameel Dubai, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design Manila of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore, and WIELS Brussels. It was supported by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

Scene from ‘A State in a State’ by Tekla Aslanishvili. | photograph courtesy of MCAD

Stationed in Berlin and Tbilisi, Aslanishvili’s creations emerge at the intersection of infrastructural design, history, and geopolitics. She graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 2009 and holds an MFA from the Department of Experimental Film and New Media Art of Berlin University of the Arts. She is a fellow of the 2018–2019 Digital Earth, a nominee for the 2021 Ars-Viva Art Prize, and a recipient of the 2020 Han NefkensFoundation-Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Award.

A State in a State is an exhibition under MCAD Commons. Removed from the main gallery of the museum, it brings MCAD’s singular programming to a larger audience to allow for engagement with creative development, exchange of ideas, and support of the artistic process across the areas of research, art practice, and curatorial discourse.

A State in a State runs 23 September to 23 October. Included in the line-up is an in-person artist talk with Aslanishvili, who will walk the audience into the process of A State in a State. She will likewise talk about Scenes from Trial and Error, her 2020 experimental documentary that examines the failed development of a port and city on the Black Sea shore.

She will share her ongoing project on renewable energy infrastructures in the South Caucasus. It will be conducted on 22 October.