Sophio Medoize at Outpost

It’s not often you see something like Sophio Medoize’s Artificial Sleep (Her her her her her her her HER). The short film Let us flow!. Accompanied by sculptural work, Let us flow! premiered at Outpost on the 27 January, shaking off any last semblance of new year inertia I had by reminding me of the velocity of life in a world that is almost completely digitised. The piece explores remote communities in Tusheti, Georgia and the threat their impending digitisation can have on ritual practices as a nomad community. Artificial sleep (Her her her her her her her HER) kicks off their programme of 5 contemporary art exhibitions across the year, supported by the Arts Council England.

The film follows the traditions and rituals surrounding bareback horse racing in the remote communities in Tusheti, Georgia, a community so detached from the digital world that before the government introduced Wi-Fi into the remote villages, phone signals couldn’t be found for ten kilometers. This absence of technology is evident throughout the film, as most of the technology seen in shots is of the camera itself. The Tusheti communities are one of the last true nomadic communities, migrating across the Georgian landscape throughout the year and partaking in a mixture of Christian and Pagan traditions which closely follow their ancestors.

Medoize ‘s work depicts the intricate rituals involved in the midsummer celebrations of ‘Atingenoba’, a two-week long festival occurring 100 days after Easter. Medoize explores the importance of horse racing within the festival and the practices surrounding the races, exhibiting several rituals held before the racing begins. The film depicts the Khorbeghela ritual, a practice involving five men in a circle with another five men standing on their shoulders which is a deeply spiritual ritual occurring before the horse race begins.

Medoize explores the complicated conflicts between the modern and traditional thereby allowing you to consider how these traditions are maintained in a modern, globalised era where the deeper meanings and connections of such traditions can easily be lost. Medioze introduces her work with the poem ‘Madoli’, ‘others were always louder, happier, more wrapped up in their own world and less interested in her than she was in them’. Medioze indicates here the deep connection these communities have with their traditions and rituals, and the absence of a modern, or perhaps postmodern, pace of life allows for a deeper sense of community. 

The significance of this work cannot be overlooked, and the difficulty maintaining spiritual connections within a community in an increasingly digital world is becoming impossible. There is a sense that if these traditions were to die, then not only are they gone, so is a frontier of human society that remains untouched by the digital, the replicable, and homogenous. Therefore, the exploration of the Tusheti community’s problem to ‘modernise, or remain faithful to tradition’ is of increasing importance.

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Poppy Miller

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August 2022
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