1/2 in Tbilisi — Interview #11 — Vato Urushadze
Who are you?
I am Vato. I recently graduated from the Center of Contemporary Art Tbilisi where I studied Mediation (Context Production). It was an interdisciplinary studies, so we also studied different subjects as photography, audio-visual art etc. Before that I was working as a financial analyst in Citi Bank and Bloomberg. So lately I had a radical career shift and now I'm working at GeoAIR.
What makes you or made you do what you do?
My grandfathers and aunts are all artists. When I was a kid, I was looking how they were painting and sculpting… But then I chose the wrong profession. I was working as a financial analys. I lived and worked for two years in Budapest and during that time I applied for the Art School there. So gradually I started to change my mind and at one point, I decided to move back to Georgia. I feel motivated in this environment, I feel desire to do things in here. No finances any more, no business-related things. There is a lot to do in Georgia. Culture and arts need more development, more attention.
What is your dream? or your ambition?
For years my dream has been to have my own art gallery and studio. It is like a long-term dream or strategy. I also want to see more people around me doing the things they want to do, and living their own dreams and not other people’s dreams.
Could you tell us a childhood memory?
I had a dog and she was very talented, her name was Pippi. Pippi because of Astrid Lindgren’s book ‘Pippi Longstocking’. And whenever I touched her stomach and scratched it, she ‘sang’ along with me. I was singing and she was singing. Then my sister was born and my father had to take our dog away. It was disappointing. I always have this thought that Pippi is still living somewhere.
What do you do when you don't do anything?
I think. Activity is usually connected with doing something physical, being active or productive. But for me activity has a more passive meaning. Actually you can reach the highest level of activity just in your head. So when I am not doing anything, I look passive but the biggest activity is happening inside me.
What is the place in Tbilisi you like the most?
I like roofs in Tbilisi. In the suburbs, there are sixteen-floor buildings and most of them are accessible. There are great views on the city, on people, on cars. You observe life from above, and nobody spots your presence. You can go up and just be there. It is very calm. I also like Vazha-Pshavela district. I grew up there and it still has a very strong influence on me. This place was built in the 60s. It is not old and it is not new, it is in between. There are Soviet type of blocks, called ‘Khrushovka’ flats. The ceiling is not very high, you can almost touch it, and the overall space is also very small. They have five or eight floors and they are all arranged in a symmetrical way. Between those buildings, there are some fields where neighbors used to grow vegetables and fruits. Having your own garden was more popular in the 90s. Now it is becoming less and less popular, as people don’t have time for that. In our yard there was a big walnut tree and every year the whole neighborhood was gathering walnuts and it was shared equally between the neighbors.
Could you tell us a Georgian personality you find inspiring?
Levan Gigineishvili, a young Georgian philosopher. I have attended his lectures. He inspires me because of his knowledge, his way of thinking. He is a very honest person. He’s just inspiring, it is hard to put into words.
What inspires you?
Individuals inspire me. People who do things which are courageous, or out of the ordinary. People who are not afraid to question taboos and go against limitations and fear. I respect when people say what they think.
Do you see any relationship between your work and the city of Tbilisi?
I think our task is to establish relationships and connections between on the one hand, the citizens of Tbilisi and on the other hand, people who are involved in artistic activities. Because art in Georgia is not very connected to the society. There is a big gap. People don’t go to museums. It seems like culture is not important here. The whole purpose is to make connections and bridge the gap between art and society.