Freedom in Art and Culture (Europe in the Suitcase)


From 20-24 November Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) organized “Europe in a Suitcase” event, 4 days international project, which took place in two cities of Georgia – Tbilisi, Gori and in one Art-Villa Garikula. It involved participants from 7 countries: Armenia, Turkey Belarus, Georgia, Poland, Russia Federation and Czech Republic. 

It was 3rd time “Europe in a Suitcase” was hosted in Georgia. This year it consisted of four-day workshop sessions on a range of topics on Freedom in Art and Culture. The purpose of the "Europe in a Suitcase” was to create an exciting opportunity for young experts of different nationalities by allowing them to share their own knowledge and experience as young experts.  

The project has symbolic name – it means that each participant come from their respective countries with a suitcases to bring their experience and knowledge to Georgia. At the same time they are taking from Georgia some experience and knowledge with their suitcases back to the home countries.

On the first day, the participants held a meeting in Betsy’s Hotel, Tbilisi. The project was opened with welcoming speech by the Mr. Peter-Andreas Bochmann - Head of  FNF South Caucasus Office, Gia Gugushvili - Rector of Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, Monika Lenhard - Representative of German Embassy to Georgia.

After that, invited guest Rusudan Mirzikashvili, Head of Cultural Heritage Department at Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection talked in her presentation on the topic of Defending Artistic Freedom. In Tbilisi following the project presentation also did Georgian participant, Art Critic Nino Macharashvili on the topic of Art and Culture as a Tool for Freedom. The meeting was attended by members of political parties, students, civil society and media organizations.

On the second day, the project moved to Gori and held at the Gori Municipality Council where Representative of Czech Republic, Sarka Prat, spoke about The Right to Freedom of Artistic Expression and Creativity. In Gori Belarusian participant Ekaterina Andronova. did a presentation on the topic of A Work of Art as a Scream of Freedom in Post-Soviet Counties. The Audience: students, youth workers, civil society activists, young professionals, representative of local government had an opportunity to join the discussion and ask questions. After the meeting participants of “Europe in a Suitcase” have visited Joseph Stalin Museum.

In the evening, young experts moved to Art-Villa Garikula. The meeting was organized at the Regional Center for Contemporary Arts “Garikula”. Turkish participant Melek Huma Kabakci spoke with audience invited from Tbilisi about The Role of Arts and Culture in an Open Society in Turkey. She analyzed current political climate in Turkey and spoke about influence of political regimes on art and culture. After the presentation in frame of the project held Lecture about Freedom of Arts and Culture in Former Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Countries.  attending the lecture was Kote Natsvlishvili, Expert in UNESCO Affairs, National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation, Georgia.

On the third day the project participants returned to Tbilisi.  They had a meeting with Yuri Mechitov, Photographer and Lecture at MD Workshop and had lecture about Sergei Parajanov Art.  After the meeting participants of “Europe in a Suitcase” visited Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art (MOMA Tbilisi). On the second part of day participants visited Art Studio of Georgian Artist, Rector of Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, Gia Gugushvili and had a Lecture on the topic of Freedom in art on his own art’s example. After the meeting “Europe in a Suitcase” moved to Tbilisi State Academy of Arts where Russian participant Oxana Budulak spoke about The Fundamental Freedom of Artistic Expression. At the Academy  following the agenda presentation also did Polish participant Jan Kapela on the topic of Right to Culture and Freedom of Arts under the Nationalistic Regime.  In the end of day during the dinner at the Restaurant “Keto and Kote” participants of “Europe in a Suitcase” had a chance to meet and speak with Tbilisi Open Air organizers and ask questions invovling the organization of big musical events, as Tbilisi Open Air represents one of the largest international music festival, with the emphasis on electronic and rock music, in Caucasus region.

On the Fourth day of "Europe in a Suitcase” the project started with Tbilisi guide tour. The participants visited old part of the city and Tbilisi. In the end of guided tour participants visited Project ArtBeat Gallery where participants saw new exhibition by modern Georgian Artist. Afterwards, “Europe in a Suitcase” moved to Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom South Caucasus office, where communication officer Iago Tsitaishvili in his keynote speech spoke about the work Foundation does. Later the participant from Armenia Ani Gevorgyan shared her knowledge regarding to the topic Art of Freedom or Freedom of Art in Post-Soviet Countries.  In frame of the project participants also visited Caucasian House - regional non-governmental organization in Tbilisi and had lecture on the topic of political, cultural, public, historical relations of Caucasus Nations. The presentation was done by Ana Dvali, Head of peace and integration Program of Caucasian House. At Caucasian House within the frame of the project  young German youth worker Frederik Nikolas Pitz spoke about Why Art should not be censored. In the last meeting of “Europe in a Suitcase held at Bassiani Nightclub, participants had a chance to meet representative and founder of the club. The club was named number ONE nightclub in the world in 2017, winning over competitors from Berlin, Kiev, Paris, Tokyo and Ibiza, and others.