1/2 in Tbilisi — Interview #9 — Sophia Lapiashvili
Who are you?
I am Sophia Lapiashvili, I work at GeoAIR. Managing several projects and partly in the residency program. I am a cultural manager.
What makes you or made you do what you do?
It was just my interest to work in this field. I wanted for a long time to be involved in residency programs. Actually, my interest for contemporary art came through my voluntary job in Switzerland. I studied Art History and I just visited one exhibition in Basel. It was so amazing for me, I just went to the director and asked to get non-paid voluntary job there. So I started to work there and it was the first step when I entered in the Contemporary Art field. Afterwards, with friends who were dealing with homeless children, we decided to build a residency outside of Tbilisi where they live. We wanted to combine this two components together. We started to think about the residency program, involving the homeless children and we were looking for money. So the interest of the residency comes through this project.
What is your dream? Or your ambition?
I don’t know. I don’t think about global ideas that I wanted to reach. I am quite happy with my life. I just think about having a structured job and not to think permanently about funding and how to survive. This is the main point what makes me feel uncomfortable in my professional life. On the other hand, I want to be connected with ecology and countryside. This is like dream to have a small country house, to have much more time to carry on ecological issues.
Could you tell us a childhood memory?
I can tell you my childhood in Abkhazia. My family from my mother’s side is from Abkhazia which we lost like 20 years ago. It is in West Georgia, on the Black Sea, near Russia. It is a conflict region. We spent every year the whole summer. It is painful when I am thinking that it does not exist anymore as it is in my memory. It was very nice. This surrounding which was there, the people who lived there, the families, the relationships, even the houses and city structure, the environment… it is not any more in this condition. It is very sad for me. There are no Georgians anymore, just Abkhazians. There are Georgians who are registered as Abkhazians and having Russian passport, they are not speaking Georgian anymore. We cannot go anymore and people who lived there either died, or were moved from the place. It’s totally abandoned, even our house, I do not know if it is still standing there.
What do you do when you don't do anything?
I do something all the time. Even when people ask me what I do in my free time, when I am thinking about it, I don’t really have a free time. Also because of my family. If I am not working, I am busy with the kids. I don’t have private time to use just for myself.
What is the place in Tbilisi you like the most?
Gudiashvili square. When I discovered this place, it was for me like a dream. Because it was very quite in the middle of the center of the city and surrounded with very nice buildings. I remember when I first discovered this place, I went every evening there, it had something very special. It became too popular and it lost the soul because of the renovation. It is still nice. Everyone likes it, but there are already two building which are completely destroyed.
Do you see any relationship between your work and the city of Tbilisi?
Yes, definitely. Because we are also dealing a lot with socially engaged projects and urban problems and it is quite related to each other. I wish I was more active in this field. To be closer to the city in terms of populations and urban planning.
Could you tell us a Georgian personality you find inspiring?
My husband. He is a molecular biologist. I think he is a very interesting person. Not because he is my husband, but in general. You can share with him everything and you can deliver any kind of ideas from any kind of field and talk about everything. It makes also the relationship comfortable, that you can really rely on his ideas.