1/2 in Tbilisi — Interview #1 — Data Chigholashvili
Who are you?
I am Data Chigholashvili, and officially my name is David. But Data is a short form of David in Georgian, Davit. You can call me David. I prefer Data. And by profession I am an anthropologist. I am doing my PhD for the moment at Tbilisi State University and I also work at GeoAIR. I usually work in visual and urban anthropology and I’m very interested in the collaboration that can happen and happens between social anthropology and contemporary art, predominantly in visual art.
What makes you or made you do what you do?
Good question and very self-reflexive. I was always interested in researching and studying, knowing more about how things work, how cultures work, how societies work, how all of this are linked, what processes are going on and also I was interested in arts. I’ve never really studied arts particularly, neither am I an artist, nor an art historian. But I always had this huge interest. And when I participated in a few projects, I realized that there is so much in common between what I was studying, which was anthropology, and contemporary art. I like the ethnographic approach in contemporary art and I find it interesting to link it with anthropology. Working with the people that you are writing about is the most important thing for me. To have them involved in a way. So I am developing it here, and it is really rewarding to see it happening in some projects.
What is your dream? Or your ambition?
My dream is to be able to fly. With or without wings, but fly.
Could you tell us a childhood memory?
The best thing that comes to me is rather general, referring to summer holidays when you go out at a countryside with your family and you do all kind of crazy things. You don’t have to study, but read books, once in a while, go out into the garden, go to swim… The whole family is around, all relatives, cousins, everyone. So many children. You basically are very creative in this kind of time. The games you are going to invent and play. It is just a nice whole childhood memory.
You know when you are a child, you don’t perceive negative things as badly as you do when you grow up. I grew up in the 90s and it was a really hard time in the country. Everything was kind of falling apart. It was because of the war and the period after war. There was no electricity, no running water for a few hours or sometimes a few days, and it was hard. I think it was hard especially for my parents’ generation who had small children in this period.
I remember it and of course it was strange, like you have a TV at home and you cannot turn it on because there is no electricity, that kind of things. You wanna watch something because you are a kid. If there is no electricity, you have to be creative, you cannot really read on the candle light that much, because it can hurt your eyes. So you would play with shadows and it was funny. It was a lot of fun. But it links to the period that we don’t really favor a lot.
What do you do when you don't do anything?
Daydreaming. It is what I do when I do nothing. I take some time to relax and daydream. It is a very creative process, I think.
What is the place in Tbilisi you like the most?
I like GeoAIR, here. And I love Betlemi district, because it’s very beautiful there. It’s so alive, nice view, nice people around.
Could you tell us a Georgian personality you find inspiring?
Let me think. It is more international in that sense. There are some writers, but it is not like I open their books and there is going to be a solution. It’s usually friends. They inspire me. And students inspire me a lot. Especially those I have worked with and I see that they are so open to new ideas and produce new stuff. It is just the best thing that can happen, you see the result that comes from them through the collaboration and that really, really inspires me.
What inspires you?
I find a lot of things inspiring, starting from everyday life situations. If I see people being happy, that is expressed in so many different ways, different things, that’s basically inspirational for me, I think.
Could also be objects, some things that you can relate to as a process and you can see the result of it.
Sometimes weather inspires me, a big wind or…
Do you see any relationship between your work and the city of Tbilisi?
Tbilisi is basically my work. It is my “field”. You know when you do a field work as an anthropologist in the “classic” version you go somewhere and you work in the field, for a year or so. And you come back and write about it. In my case it’s basically having a field in the city where I have lived the most of my life and it’s a bit confusing sometimes, but it is also great. Just having this open, interested attitude towards a lot of stuff is great.