1/2 in Tbilisi — Interview #2 — Tamrika Khvtisiashvili
Who are you?
My name is Tamrika. Tamrika Khvtisiashvili is my full name. I am Georgian. But I haven't lived here for 20 years, so for me, coming back is kind of a process every time. I have just started to come back the last five years. I am just finishing my dissertation. My specialization is language documentation. I work in Azerbaijan on indigenous languages of the Caucasus. And then I do films. Film is what I studied before I got into linguistics.
What makes you or made you do what you do?
I studied film in the US and then I decided that I wanted to continue, to get my masters and PhD, but I did not want to do it in film, because film, you just have to do it. So I got interested in formal, theoretical linguistics, and then I was trying to reconnect to the Caucasus. There are indigenous languages all over the world and my professor said why not study some of the languages that are disappearing in the Caucasus, either in Georgia or Azerbaijan or Armenia. So for me it was a way to kind of give back, or somehow reconnect to the Caucasus, without moving back.
What is your dream? Or your ambition?
I would love to do film as not a way of income, but as a way of living. I would love to just make films. Without having to be a professor. Be able to do that full time.
Could you tell us a childhood memory?
I do not know if this is a memory, but one thing I laugh about to myself is growing up in Georgia during Soviet times. I was obsessed with native American cultures, because in Georgia we did not know much about it of course, because we were so cut off from the other world because of the Soviet Union. But I read all of Mark Twain and anything that dealt with native American cultures in North America, or Canada. I would find the photographs of native Americans and I had them all over my room and everybody in my family and my friends thought it was really strange, because they did not know why I was so interested in it. Ironically, the state where I live and where I moved to is Utah, where there’s lots of native American tribes and I work with lots of them. I got into linguistics by working with native American people.
What do you do when you don't do anything?
I walk a lot, randomly. I do not know if that’s doing something. Because of the kind of work I do, I end up spending a lot of time alone. I travel a lot. Walking is a nice way to not be in your room and feel like you are not really alone, because there’s people around.
What is the place in Tbilisi you like the most?
I really like going outside to the suburbs where Tbilisi is less pretty. It’s almost more real there, you do not see tourists and you do not see people that have money, maybe. You see people living, sometimes I go to Varketili, Didube… It’s really interesting to go to that places.
Could you tell us a Georgian personality you find inspiring?
Yes, there is a woman I've just learned about. Elene Dariani. She’s Georgian and she wrote in 1920s. She was writing erotic poetry under her husband’s name. I think Georgia is still a very conservative country, quite sexist and chauvinist, even to this day and especially then. To write erotic poetry as a Georgian woman, I think this is fascinating. She was married three times, which is really unusual even now for a Georgian woman. And I like her writing not only because it’s erotic, she’s also a good writer.
What inspires you?
I guess I really like when I meet people that somehow manage to do what they want to do. I think that's really rare. There are very few people that are really doing what they want to do. Not because it is cool, or interesting, or beautiful, but because that’s just what they want. When I meet them I get really humbled, I really like that.
Do you see any relationship between your work and the city of Tbilisi?
When you leave your roots and not go back for a long time, that really affects you. Coming from Georgia, I felt like I was raised in this really conservative way. In the US, because I went there alone, I had to figure out how to live on my own. I became more extreme with everything. All my friends just want equal rights, for instance, but I go extreme with my feminism. And I really think it has to do with being raised in Georgia. I almost try too hard to prove certain things. I think it’s connected to being Georgian.