Five years ago, Georgian and Abkhaz research teams, with the support of the international organisations Conciliation Resources and swisspeace, began to collect eye-witness accounts and a wide range of original print, photo and video materials related to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in two parallel archives.
Since then, the teams have worked to expand these archives of collective memory, designed to provide as full and balanced a picture as possible of events before, during and after the armed phase of the conflict.
Several thousand items have already been collected and catalogued in the archives to date, including documents, newspapers and photographs, and most importantly, video and audio interviews with participants and witnesses to the events at that time. The voices of people living directly through the violence are complemented by accounts from political and military decision makers active in Sukhum/i and Tbilisi.
'The Corridors of Conflict: Abkhazia 1989 – 1995' is the first attempt to talk to the wider public about this archive.
Over the three weeks of the exhibition, regular discussions and events will be held which the public are encouraged to participate in. The exhibition tells stories from a period which determined the fate of Georgia: the Soviet Union collapsed and Georgia became an independent state; the Georgian-Ossetian armed conflict began in 1991; Georgia was thrown into a state of civil confrontation; the Georgian-Abkhaz armed conflict followed in 1992-1993, which claimed thousands of lives on both sides and led to mass displacement.
Hundreds of thousands of people remember and are shaped by that time. Some of them were at the epicentre of the conflict, others have lived their lives for many years in its shadow. The exhibition is spread over four rooms focusing on the period leading up to armed conflict (1989-1992), during the hostilities (1992-1993) and the post-war period (1993-1995).
The archival materials on display provide unique information to the public about Georgia’s relatively recent past, and encourage visitors to reflect and interact with them. Excerpts from video and audio interviews tell very different, often contradictory stories, and thereby create a basis for reflection and rethinking the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.
Organisers and supporters of the exhibition
The exhibition is funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, with additional financial support from the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund. Financial support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, and Sigrid Rausing Trust has enabled the creation and development of the collective memory archives that are the foundation for the exhibition.
Conciliation Resources, GoGroupMedia, Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, Studio RE, swisspeace, the archive research teams, curators and many others have made this exhibition possible. We are grateful to our donors, to numerous individuals and organisations who have given their time or contributions in kind to this initiative, and to all those who have donated materials to the archive.