Andro Eradze: I’m interested in the liminal space between animality and society - Kauno Bienalė

Andro Eradze: I’m interested in the liminal space between animality and society


Andro Eradze (b. 1993, Tibilisi) is a visual artist working in video, photography and installation. Known for his distinctive post-human storytelling, Eradze explores the human impact on nature and interconnectedness of all living things in his body of work. He took part in several international group exhibitions and screenings including “The Milk of Dreams”, curated by Cecilia Alemani, at the 59th Venice Biennale (IT) and The New Museum Screen Series (New York, USA), amongst others. In the following conversation, Eradze discusses his art practice and new work to be presented in the 14th Kaunas Biennial.

Central theme in your practice is humans’ traces in nature and interspecies relations. How did you first become interested in these subject matters?

I can’t say how it first appeared in my work, but I can remember that, from the early stages of my practice, I was interested in observing abandoned and dysfunctional spaces. I was trying to activate these locations, giving them certain meanings and personifying them.

At this point, I find it appealing if work holds conditional quality, even when the material is documentary or rooted in factual. I believe this gives immunity to the piece being read in various ways and remaining open. I’m using the animistic method to animate the stillness of what’s in front of me, relying on the imaginative and virtual dimensions of these things by trying to give them space to breathe.

In addition to this, I’m interested in the idea of social construct and ways of living, how we intersect or coexist with other species and inhabitants in and out of the context of the urban landscape. With my work, I try to render the iconography of animality and vegetation in the form of a fable, serving as something that is misleading to the image but becomes its core element. The idea of otherness and togetherness between various entities explored through notions like sharing and care, also plays an important role in my work.

In the end, I can say that I’m interested in the liminal space between animality and society from an anthropomorphic standpoint. How these qualities intersect.

Andro Eradze, Installation view, Raised in the Dust, 2022,The Milk of Dreams, Arsenale, The 59th Venice Biennale, Photo: Roberto Marossi, Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

Humans never feature your work, yet one can always feel their looming presence. Why is that? Is this a deliberate choice?

It’s true, human figures are not often present in my work, however, I guess, you can still trace them in this absence. One of the aspects of my practice is to leave room for the viewer to finalize the piece with their own reading. My work often shows fragments where an individual or a community is present through a simple gesture or an encrypted manner that is not pushed to the surface. In this way, I do believe that what is not shown, hidden from the screen, or in the image is the most decisive part of the work and contributes to the piece. Like in Bressonian cinema, the gaps between the sequences are the tools for storytelling, I strongly share this principle in my practice.

Often your work is presented as ecologically driven and resonating with posthuman considerations. What’s your take on this?

As for ecologically driven works, I believe awareness of this subject matter takes a central role in growing and thinking about the future. However, when it comes to artistic expression and manipulation, I remain uncertain about how these works resonate with the audience or whether they can effectively deliver their intended message. My work has occasionally been labeled as an ecological commentary on the ongoing crisis, and while there might be some truth to it, I must say that this isn’t a conscious decision on my part. If ecological themes are present in my works, they emerge without planned intentions. If the audience sees this subject in my practice, I feel happy about it, but I recognize that the notion of ecology today is considerably more complex, as are the ways how we should speak about it.

However, I do think posthumanism is a tool for artists to create a form of storytelling that goes beyond conventional narratives and deals with ways of seeing from a non-human perspective. Posthumanism is interesting to me in many ways, I like how it deals with perceptions, imagination, mysticism, as well as, actual spaces or architecture in a wider understanding. It holds an uncanny and sublime quality to this world and also adds more layers on top, which are non-real but with variations of possible scenarios in which we all participate. I see posthumanism as a poetic way of expressing not only the ongoing crisis but also the fragility and diversity of our inner worlds.

Andro Eradze, Installation view, Mouth of Darkness, 2020, solo exhibition, digital print, metal fence, 63.4 x 93.1 cm. Tbilisi, Georgia.

What’s your personal relationship with nature? Are you a nature person during your leisure time?

That’s a hard question, I can say yes and no at the same time. I do love to find myself in nature, with its full wilderness and enigmatic aspects. I’m driven by the feeling of going back in time when it comes to walking in the woods, it almost feels like I’m connected to something before me and like time didn’t pass at all. I link this feeling with dreaming. Dreams seem to possess this timeless quality too, bridging us to those who came before. We can connect to them at some point with dreaming, as we can with spending time in nature. I often use dream logic in my works, especially when it comes to vegetation or animality.

But also, at the same time, I am social and love to connect with people. I can say I’m a city person with full understanding, I like to observe the urban landscape and realize that I’m part of it.

I can say that I can see myself in both places simultaneously, and I guess that could be a central source of inspiration for me.

What’s your modus operandi? Do you start with research, observations, imaginary, literature, etc.? What inspires you?

It is something undefinable for me, it could be everything you mentioned, just a spark from seeing a scene in the street, or a vivid memory of something. It is always hard to specify the source of inspiration.

I can say that I’m a cinema person, watching a film could make an impact on me, or reading a book or poetry. I do make research and observation when I already have a thought. I always spend more time with the subject matter to dig and examine various perspectives on it. I can’t say my practice is research-based, but it holds different stages, from the excitement of the idea to researching it. Yet, the most valuable part is the studio practice, the routine and intimacy of it.

When it comes to exhibitions, your works are usually very interestingly staged. What’s your approach to exhibition making?

I think for me, the only possibility for work to be finalized, or in other words, to happen, is at the exhibition, it has to become activated in the context of a space. I like when the exhibition feels like a staged, manipulated space that is deliberately constructed for the viewers. It depends on what I’m working on at that time. For example, in “Raised in the Dust”, I had an impression that the film did not require much interaction and assistance, so I made a simple minimalistic intervention into the space. In contrast to the video work “Nightvision, Limited Access”, I felt that the enclosed quality of the work had to be accompanied by an installation that would push the same subject matter by using different elements. I presented the work with the metal fence that was dividing the room into two sides, the other side of the space was inaccessible for the viewers. This way, the video work and the installation interplayed in an interesting way. I want to say it depends on what I have at the moment and what my intention is at the time, but in all the given circumstances, thinking about the final installation is an integral aspect of my working process.

Your video works usually have distinctive otherworldly soundtrack. Do you work on soundtracks yourself?

I see a score as one of the leading elements that helps to reach the exact mood to the moving image and, therefore, accomplish the work. Sometimes, I collaborate with a sound engineer, and as I already have something in mind, we try to develop and enrich it in the studio. Otherwise, I constantly search for and listen to the music or available online sound libraries, and if I grab a feeling out of it in relation to what I do, I make a sample, a short excerpt, and try to build something new on top of it.

What are you preparing for the 14th Kaunas Biennial?

I’m working on a new five-minute video work titled “At the Same Time” commissioned by the Kaunas Biennial, which will be shown at the historical building of the Postal Office. The piece explores the ideas of friendship as well, as ownership, and questions various power dynamics between entities. Depicted are stray dogs living in a city. I try to think about these dogs independently as well as in reference to society, reflecting on the burned bridges of companionship. The work is filmed from the perspective of a camera in the car, which is driving through the territory of dogs while provoking them to follow, barking furiously at the intruder, which is the camera and/or the viewer. It is a projection of domination, vulnerability, and fragility, a menacing determination to defend what they consider as their own. The film questions belonging and the instinctive desire for claiming, reclaiming, and defending territory. The camera becomes an outsider, the stranger in this realm of ‘otherness’, a foreign object that disrupts the delicate instability and provokes the dogs to action. In this way, the film highlights the tension between these two entities sharing the same urban landscape. It emphasizes the importance of respecting and understanding the marked territories of the city’s inhabitants while departing from the physicality of actual territories into more abstract notions.