Jacek Dominiczak’s reflections…The Ruins of Modernism
Adam interviewed Jacek: ’I am not so interested in documenting poverty. But what really astonished me in Tskaltubo was the ruins of modernist buildings. The older buildings are in better shape than the new ones. Modernism needs wealth to be good. It needs maintenance and up-keep, extreme cleanliness and precision. In Mexico, in the poor areas, the people repair their part of the roof and their part of façade. The problem is when you design a building which the occupants cannot repair themselves. In the Soviet area the state had the machines and resources to build these big edifices. When Communism fell suddenly there was no one to fix them. So they decay. And they stand in the landscape like wrecks of ships.
Social housing should mean a house that people can repair their own roof. Modernism is unprepared for change. If an old building settles in the ground it adjusts. If a concrete and steel structure settles probably it will crack, probably it will fall down. You can see from the houses we passed that these modernist structures are not typical for Georgia – the private homes are of a classic design with a balcony.
At the same time as looking at the buildings I am trying to understand the local culture. It’s hard to find. I look for things people like to do, their habits and routines. I remember the owner of the café on the North Xpedition who had a regular customers from his village. When he told them we were coming they said, oh OK we won’t come that day…and we never met them because we had changed the situation and decided to wait until we left and things went back to normal.
I can’t really see local culture like this in the streets of Batumi orTskaltubo. In Turkey there are the tea places where old men sit and chat. In Batumi, even in the old town which is really inauthentic, there are no cafes. In Poland the church plays an important role as a place where people, especially old peope, meet. But Tskaltubo does not seem to be a religious place. And there are few cafes (the one in Batumi Old Town was completely empty) Where do they go to drink their favourite vodka?’