a spindleful. here. again. / Casting an Echo: Architecture of Sericulture

Olaf Nicolai in collaboration with Nina Akhvlediani

Say the word silk, and it vanishes with the sound, but your senses, your memory and knowledge cast back an echo.
Inger Christensen

a spindleful. here. again. / Casting an Echo: Architecture of Sericulture combines materials created since 2019 in an engagement with the State Silk Museum, Tbilisi, its archives and local actors. What is now a museum complex with collections, a library and archives was originally a place of research, teaching and silk production. The site of today’s large-scale Tbilisi soccer stadium was once home to mulberry plantations and buildings used for silkworm breeding.

At the invitation of the museum, the artist Olaf Nicolai developed a project to work in and with the collections of the State Silk Museum. These included photographs, microscope images, silk cocoons, textiles and butterflies. In addition to the digitization of glass negatives and photographs, this resulted in the SERI(a) publication series, of which two issues are presented. They act as a platform for the various publishing activities of the State Silk Museum and are themselves a kind of archive for the most diverse documents, research materials and artistic projects available on the subject of silkworm cultivation (sericulture).

In the first issue, photographs by Italian photographer Giovanna Silva show what remained visible of the predecessor institution of the current museum, the Caucasian Sericulture Station, before a major renovation of the building began in 2020. In the second edition, the Ars Poetica of the Chinese poet Lu Chi, microscopic photographs from the world of silkworms and a text by the Danish author Inger Christensen meet. a spindleful. here. again also shows the digital archive of glass negatives from the State Silk Museum as well as an architectural history excursus that shows how much the infrastructure of silk production and the museum shape the urban topography and cityscape.

A poster series that takes up subjects from the photographic collections in Tbilisi is also part of the spatial intervention at HKW. The posters form the visual framing of the accompanying discourse program, which allows the archive to be experienced as a place of collection, research and, above all, productive speculation.

Together with Nina Akhvlediani, Nicolai developed the exhibition as a modular display in which the components can be combined in different ways. The archive materials thus also open up to new, associative forms of access.

With the generous support of the Goethe-Institut Georgia and the State Silk Museum Tbilisi.

Archival materials, photographs, digital collection, 2021/22