Supra of Her Own is a collaborative project dedicated to the problem of the invisibility of women’s painful experiences. I was approached by the anthropologist, Agnieskza Dudrak, to develop a project based on the topic of domestic violence in Georgia. The project developed in close collaboration with the women survivors over the period of a year and a half.
My inspiration for this project came from the Georgian supra, a highly cultivated traditional feast that is an important part of everyday Georgian life. Everybody knows the ‘supra’ in Georgia and everyone has his/her own attitude towards it and memories of it. Even though generally the women are responsible for the preparation of the feast, the men are accountable for the most valued and visible activities at the table, such as toasting, speaking, singing, and reciting poetry. The ‘supra’ can be perceived as a collective, public space for sharing food and time with each other. The word ‘supra’ also means a tablecloth and is an important attribute to the feast. Traditionally the tablecloth are decorated by women and kept within families often for decades despite stains and mends they accumulate. These family treasures, like diaries, hold personal memories the traces of which remain invisible. My aim was to create an installation where public and private spaces would continuously overlap. With its manifold meanings, ‘supra’ could function as such, providing interesting context to the entire project.
The family tablecloth was the main material of the installation. I collected worn tablecloths from various families and used them to build the installation in the shape of an apartment. The apartment was based on the drawings (emotional maps) that were made during our meeting with the women’s group. Through those drawings, I could approach their private space and try to picture the “stifling domesticity” of their homes.
I used text to decorate each tablecloth, letting the content define the technique and the material (painted, collaged, embroidered or stamped). The text was based on the quotes from the interviews we conducted with women’s group. Each room of the installation represented a crucial moment in the woman’s life that brought drastic changes in her life. Walls made out of tablecloth were soft and flexible. The quotations were arranged thematically in different rooms, such as the wedding room, the room of hesitation, the childhood room, and the room of explosion, the room of help/stigmatization. The spectator was invited into the imaginary apartment, a private space that is generally kept away from the public view. Moving freely inside the space offered to the viewers the possibility to experience the intensity of the content and to construct their own stories out of the given narrative.
As an additional layer to the project, we created a publication under the same title ‘Supra of Her Own’, translating the physical experience into a two dimensional space of a book.