Have you ever experienced something like this: you have such a strong memory about a place, that you think this place will never change? Pirimze was like that for me. I remember going there as a child and a teenager, it was kind of a public space, or more like a market where everyone could wander around.

In summer 2007, Pirimze was emptied and reconstructed. That's when I realised I had not made a single photograph or a moving image of the place. Even though I was aware that it was a special place, I believed it would always exist.

What I remember most strongly is the ground floor where there was a semi-dark corridor with private-like booths on both sides, in which craftsmen worked. One could get a glimpse inside these booths and discover personalised interiors, covered with cut-outs from foreign glossy magazines and photos of naked girls. It was a man’s world. The men working there had their own rules and often cheated, one could have got lost in the dark corridors of it, and one’s foreign watch batteries would surely get lost in there, in the hands of anonymous men, that all looked the same.

This corridor was a starting point of my (re)search.
Photo by Eka Bibileishvili

I started going to the neighbourhood where Pirimze stood, not knowing how to start this project. To my surprise I discovered that many of the former workers have stayed there, in rented workshops scattered around the former Pirimze. I rented one table in one of the workspaces and started meeting former workers. To begin with, I asked them to draw me a map of the ground floor of Pirimze in order to remember who sat where, who was specialised in what, and what the workers’ ethnic backgrounds were. On the base of these hand-drawn maps, I made a paper reconstruction of the ground floor that can be cut out and put together.

Reconstructed paper Pirimze.
In collaboration with Shota Demetrashvili

One of the workers I met during the research was Koki Beridze, who specialised in belts and buttons, lady’s bags and zippers. He was the only person I met who was not dreaming to return to the renovated "Pirimze Plaza" and to set up his workspace there. Unlike others, he had no illusion that things would naturally become better because the space was renovated. I asked him questions and he answered me with exact dates and years, he was a true archive. He helped me enormously in conducting my research, as he trusted me and let me copy all the material and information he had collected throughout the years: newspaper clippings, TV reportages and documents.  

Koki Beridze in his workspace.
Photo by Tato Kotetishvili

During the research, it became clear to me that the problem of destruction of Pirimze was hiding a larger picture and the social and political agendas of different players involved in this process. I had to find a way of showing the fights about the building and registering the changes and mechanisms that are used in identical cases, so I decided that a documentary film would be a good medium to show the complex story of this building. 

Model built for the documentary.
Photo by Sophia Tabatadze

This project is not a nostalgic try to reconstruct a certain aspect of the past, or the building which is no longer there. Instead it analyses and shows how these kind of changes take place, who benefits from it and how these fortunate ones beautify and sell their story back to people, who lost everything. It is also a time document of something disappearing, which is craftsmanship. 

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