The dusty cosmos on a gymnastic carpet, made all blurry by magnesium powder.”
David Meskhi’s childhood memories were shaped by sports – the gyms, athletic competitions, and training camps his father repeatedly took him to as a child and teenager. His father was (and still is) a coach as was his father, too. Everything revolved around sports – youth, training, the body, the competition mixed with health propaganda posters made by masters of soviet fine art – Meskhi’s photo albums and memories are full of such images and also form the basis of his artistic vocabulary. His final project at the arts academy in Tbilisi thus dealt with documentary photographs of gymnastic sport school as well as the later 2015 documentary film he co-directed, When The Earth Seems to be Light, focusing on the founding of the skater scene in Georgia, which began under very different conditions than the California movement in the 1970s.
Like creatures from another world, the half-naked, well-trained bodies of young gymnasts in Meskhi’s photographs in the exhibition Carpet Sunrise seem to plummet from the sky. Hanging upside-down and flying weightlessly through the air, they seemingly resist the laws of gravitation with ease, bleached out by gleaming sunlight that projects the brightly glowing form of windows onto the walls and the huge carpet floor of the hall. The effortless movements of their bodies, the act of letting go, takes on more complex meanings given the geographic and social background of the photographs. Memories of the golden era of Eastern European gymnast triumphs are seemingly brought to life. Nevertheless, Meskhi’s photographs do not explicitly point to a specific time or societal order; a historical classification is not really possible or even intended. The bodies are liberated from time and space.
Meskhi’s characteristic images in the exhibition are paired not only with photographs from his time in the military but also with long-distance and close-up photographs of sun- and moonscapes, whose qualities and traits captivate the artist to a similar degree as human body movement. His interest in celestial bodies is based on his childhood memories of outdoor nights at camp spent observing the moon, but also on the aesthetic aspect. They basically continuing subject of the body and giving human and celestial different meanings and qualities. It is practically irrelevant whether the bodies are shot in color or black and white – what’s important is how they are modeled, their texture, the form and ultimately the conditio (humana).
David Meskhi was born in 1979 in Tbilisi, Georgia, and lives and works in Berlin. He graduated with a degree in photography in 2005 from Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film University in Tbilisi. Meskhi has worked as a photographer for numerous magazines, as a film director, and with artists like Thea Djordjaze. His works have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, the Braunsfelder Family Collection, and the Calvert 22 Foundation in London. This is David Meskhi’s second solo exhibition (#1) at the Galerie für Moderne Fotografie.
Text: Carolin Leistenschneider