I was expecting to spend a typical Sunday afternoon in Tbilisi relaxing, but an email from a Georgian activist inviting me to attend a graffiti and street art event held at the Alternative Cultural Centre of Tbilisi (ACCT) in a derelict building close to a city park was to change all of that.
Hello Onnik, There is a first time in Caucasus kind of squatting and social center experience.
I think it’s an important moment… and it’s at the beginning stage…
I really recommend visiting this space.
As my work also covers alternative and contemporary culture from time to time, and especially when underground, it was definitely of interest even if I almost didn’t go. But I’m glad I did.
The idea is to create an open, safe and free space for independent art and culture, a place where we can be free to express ourselves; free to think, create, and share; to inspire and be inspired.
To give a new life to one of abandoned Tbilisi buildings and make an alternative cultural center with lots of art studios, concert halls, theatre performances, exhibitions, cinema screenings, DIY laboratories, creative workshops, free university, alternative library, vegan cafe and anything u want
Because we make it ours, a space open for everybody. A communal space created by collective action.
A derelict space in the centre of the Georgian capital was being reclaimed by a small group of street art and graffiti artists, complete with accompanying DJ, and other activists.
What I wasn’t expecting to run into, however, was a nomad, possibly from France, on his way through the South Caucasus from Afghanistan. “Have you met Goran yet?” asked one friend, Christina Maza, who was also at the event. “No,” I replied. “Where is he?”
“Oh,” she said. “He’s with his camel.” And so we went off to find him.
And thus I encountered Goran and the Gittaohan Nomadic Camel Caravan.
Git: to go [Turkish], Song (of god) [Sanskrit],
Gitanos Romani peoples of South France
Tao: the way, the balance (Chinese)
Han: the travellers inn (Turkish/Arabic), the king
Gittaohan is a collaboration Project group comprising people of mixed nations that promotes an international message of peace and sensibility. We research and share this message on multiple levels:
# The truthful way of Nomadic Cultures.
# The respectful and ecological use of animals, training with non-violent techniques.
# The connection between human and animal for human psychological, health and educational benefits.
# The value of travel for the correct exchange and understanding of culture for a global evaluation of humanism.
# Educating and sharing with children, who will put into practice this global message of unity and diversity.
# Protection and Husbandry programs for the Bactrian camel.
Had a fascinating chat with Goran about materialistic and spiritual values as well as the fusion of cultures and importance of open borders in all aspects of life, let along between countries.
There’s more about him here.
The project originated in the mountains of Switzerland, France and Italy when Goran, Master camel man, shepherd and spiritual researcher began to study the Silk Road and the nomadic traditions. They lived a highly sustainable life, extremely healthy for both humans and their animal companions, and were at one time the most important cultural group. […]
Goran began to research of nomadic practices and started looking for nomadic families in Turkey with knowledge of the camel and camel caravan. At this time he was introduced to a man who was to become his teacher and would pass on to him all the knowledge of his ancestors about this life. Mustafa Urgur was the last of his line of cameleers who gave away his traditions in search of wealth. He had observed his trade and culture move from the height of importance to a non-existent way of life. Goran spent ten years researching and receiving knowledge from one of the last cameleers of Turkey. He funded this period selling organic and biological products to Europe, which were almost unobtainable at that time. Collecting many interested people to work together on this project in Turkey and Europe
In 1990 Goran headed beyond Turkey to broaden his research of nomadic traditions and their animal practices. As he Travelled through the Stans, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, enjoying the hospitality of Nomadic families he began to envisage the possibility of obtaining his own camels to emulate this style of life. […]
All photos © Onnik Krikorian 2013