1/2 in Tbilisi — Interview #8 — Katharina Stadler
Who are you?
My name is Kat, or Katharina. I work as an artist, sometimes as a curator and I curate the educational programs here at the Center of Contemporary Art Tbilisi.
What makes you or made you do what you do?
Actually, I always wanted to work in theater, and that’s how I started off, in theater production. And then it went from one medium to another, from theater to film etc. I do that because I think that’s the only thing I know how to do. It just comes to me. I usually say that the only thing I always have are the ideas and I think this is the right way to follow that, despite all the obstacles. About the education part, the idea behind is that I had a lot of great people in my life who taught me and I just want to pass it on. Those people over the last 20 years were really important for me. And I am not convinced that I am that important to my students, but I like the idea of sharing the knowledge and practices, so that’s how I ended up in education.
What is your dream? Or your ambition?
Ambition, I don't know. But dream is to be always able to continue working on exactly what I want to work on at the moment and to work together with the people who I really like and trust. And not get into that whole art education, art world business, because there is too much ego and elbows out there. Ambition, I don't know really. Maybe get more professional in the work I am doing. That’s one of those ambitions that will never stop. That is not an ambition or a goal that you can reach at some point. I don't want more responsibilities. I want to be a teenager again, please no more responsibilities… (laughing)
Could you tell us a childhood memory?
To be honest, I do not have that many childhood memories, but I think what I remember the most is being in the mountains. I was sick as a child for 8 years and did not have energy in my daily life and as soon as we went to the mountains, I could breathe and I really loved the mountains. Connected to that, I collected everything I found and made sculptures out of that. My family was kind of disgusted by that, because I collected bones and trash and everything and I wanted to have that stuff in the house. But this mix of being in the nature and just doing this working for myself, I would not call it working as a child, but gathering everything and producing stuff.
What do you do when you don't do anything?
I never don't do anything. I am one of those workaholics. I chose the life I live very consciously. I love what I am doing, but I have a tendency to totally overwork myself and then I end up just crashing and sleeping… but just doing nothing, even when I sleep I dream a lot so I am not sure if that is relaxing.
What is the place in Tbilisi you like the most?
My apartment. I love it because it’s an own world and has nothing to do with Tbilisi or anything else. It’s just mine, “Katland”. I have my studio there. I don't have all my books, but at least some… And my kitchen. I can just pretend to be, not necessarily somewhere else, but in my space. It’s a beautiful old apartment, it is inspiring, it has a good atmosphere. I also like people coming over, it’s not that I am hiding there and fencing myself off Tbilisi, even though I do that once in a while. It’s just an island, separate land in the middle of the world.
Do you see any relationship between your work and the city of Tbilisi?
Yes, but not Tbilisi, Georgia. In my educational work, I always liked cooperation. Here it is even more necessary to get people and students to talk to each other, accepting different opinions, working with each other or helping each other. So in that sense I think the whole surrounding influenced my educational work a lot. Also the whole idea of being western... I think a lot about those issues about neocolonialism, this whole idea of bringing democracy and whatever kind of lifestyle to a country like this. It influences me. I think I would be even more arrogant if I was doing the same in Berlin, more sure of myself and my decisions. Here, I always try to find the middle way, which causes other problems. In my artistic work, I was always a feminist. The society, by imposing these weird ideas about gender roles and no sex before marriage, and homophobia and, and, and… made me become so radical in my feminism, in my political views. I became very antireligious. And that all ended up in my work. More the issues about gender roles, not the religious ones, but in a way they are also connected.
Is it something you can share with other people here?
With a few people. There are few great people here, but really few. I miss radical discussions, I miss this kind of rage that you want to change something and even if it's just in this small context. Rage sounds so negative, but I think it's a good notion for working. In that sense, this May 17th thing was quite good, as I realized there are more people with anger inside them, not just me. I think we do not express it enough here. There is a very small group who has this rage and there is a very big group which is against this small group.
Could you tell us a Georgian personality you find inspiring?
It’s the philosopher Merab Mamardashvili. He totally inspires me. He was very like a public figure during Soviet times, well-known for giving public lectures which were attended by a weird variety of people. He was an icon. Even though he talked about consciousness in his philosophical lectures, he managed to address a wider audience. I am very inspired by him but I'm stuck in language, as all those lectures are in Russian and I only get the context. I read most of the translations I could find. Now I‘m reading the Georgian translation of his talks, because I am preparing a project which will hopefully be finished next summer in Tbilisi. The idea is to make a project which is connected to a Georgian philosopher but does not only work here, that’s the aim I have. He has some kind of revival, but he is a bit forgotten and he is not really known outside of former Soviet Union. So I want to have those two things, have his voice again here in Tbilisi and also introduce his voice to the West.
What inspires you?
At the moment, love. At the moment it works for me as an inspiration.