T2, Theater 2
*Letters to Max*. 2014. France. Directed by Eric Baudelaire. Courtesy of director

Eric Baudelaire conceived The Secession Sessions as a way to explore the idea of statehood through the prism of the “stateless state” of Abkhazia, which seceded from Georgia, in the Caucasus, during a civil war in 1992–93. The project comprises various elements taking place in several regions of the world, including Paris, Bergen, Berkeley, and New York, including regular public office hours at the Embassy of Abkhazia, created for parts of the exhibition and staffed by Maxim Gvinjia, former Foreign Minister of Abkhazia.

Baudelaire explains: “Like all disputed lands, Abkhazia is entangled in a conflicted narrative. To many Georgians, the breakaway state is a rogue nationalist regime, an amputated part of Georgia. To the Abkhaz, independence saved them from cultural extinction after years of Stalinist repression and Georgian domination. To many observers, Abkhazia is simply a pawn in the Great Game Russia and the West have always played in the Caucasus. The Secession Sessions acknowledges these competing narratives...which makes the self-construction of its narrative something worth exploring.”

For this Modern Mondays event, held in conjunction with Documentary Fortnight 2015 and Discovering Georgian Cinema, Baudelaire screens his new film, Letters to Max (2014) and discusses the issues at stake in The Secession Sessions.