1/2 in Tbilisi — Interview #7 — Tamta Tamara Shavgulidze
Who are you?
My name is Tamta Tamara Shavgulidze, I am an art historian and I am specialized in Georgian Contemporary Art. I am giving lectures in the Academy of Fine Arts in Tbilisi, Georgia. My main interest is how to read contemporary art, the cultural context and forms, to explain the language of contemporary art to the students.
What makes you or made you do what you do?
When I was around 10 years old, I wanted to be an archaeologist, so it started from the very beginning. I loved the adventure that art and archaeology offer. That’s when I decided to get involved with art. Well, I was 14 years old when I decided to study in the college, it was a humanitarian college. I studied everything there, philosophy, contemporary dance, film. After finishing this college, three years later I had many choices what I could do with my life and I decided that art and visual art was something that attracted me.
What is your dream? Or your ambition?
My dream or ambition? They are a bit different. I don’t think that I have an ambition actually. I just think that I have reached the point at this moment of my life, the point that I have always been moving towards. Now I’m just getting pleasure from this style of life I have, because I love to be an observer. I love to look at art pieces or art processes, to analyze them, to be involved partly, to be in contact with the people who are making art and culture. Somehow this is a great moment for me to be in the middle of creating something. I think this was my dream and it came true. I think ambition is always changing, it depends on the stage of your life. I have always wanted to be a professional and this is the main thing I wanted to do all my life and just to improve myself all the time. This is what I’m trying to do all the time.
Could you tell us a childhood memory?
I have a lot of memories from my childhood and sometimes I even think that maybe I have not finished something in my childhood and I’m still strongly connected to it. There are many adult emotions that are bringing some pictures and images from my childhood. What I remember mostly is the Soviet period of my childhood. I don't like to remember the period which came after Soviet times. It was not horrible — the Western culture came and the Western cartoons — but I loved the colors and images and everything that was connected to the Soviet childhood culture, the Soviet cartoons. This is quite strong in me at the moment. What is coming is always the Soviet period of my life, strange but still.
What do you do when you don't do anything?
This is my favorite moment in life when I’m doing nothing. Mostly when I’m doing nothing I try to have coffee in the room where I’m sitting. I love to dream, I love to think about everything and nothing, about nothing serious. I have my most favorite armchair in my room, the red carpet and this is the ideal situation for me. It makes me relax. So when I’m doing nothing, I am sitting in the armchair drinking coffee.
What is the place in Tbilisi you like the most?
The place is on Freedom Square, when you are going down from the square to the Baratashvili Bridge. This is the moment when there is a small corner, and you are going and suddenly, the huge space is opening. This is the place from which you best can see the sky. When I come back from my vacations, I try to go first to this place, have a walk and rediscover the sky of Tbilisi. For others it might be the most ordinary space, but somehow I found something that is very personally mine.
The suburbs are typical Soviet places. They were built during the 60s when Khrushchev decided the re-urbanization process in Georgia. Many people who were coming from the villages needed places to live. This is the moment when Tbilisi culture changed again, because the new blood from the villages rushed and it was all mixed again with the village life. It is the main fight in Tbilisi for Tbilisi, to survive the urban culture. It is getting more and more difficult because the people from the villages are coming and coming. There are one million original citizens and another million who have moved from the villages. There is a real fight on everyday level between the city and the village. That is quite obvious and is discomforting on the level of the communication. It’s not like in Europe when you know each suburb has a type of people to expect. Here all social layers are living together, so it’s a bit of a met farm.
I am never sad about the changes and I am never sad about losing something, it’s more natural to lose something and gain something new. If you are not losing something you are not getting anything new. Georgians are always very sad about losing something and they are always afraid of getting something new. We are somehow stuck in the middle of the past and future and it is not present time.
Could you tell us a Georgian personality you find inspiring?
You know it’s quite difficult and when I am thinking about the Georgian educational system it is complicated. You are growing up in the situation where there are a lot of heroes who must inspire you and you don’t have a choice. There was a moment when I decided I did not want to be inspired by historical people. I was protesting against this situation. After thinking a lot, I understood that my father is the person that inspires me. He researches contemporary Georgian literature. And actually because of many moments in his life and his character, he inspires me. This is the most honest answer.
What inspires you?
The feeling of success, this is something very incredible. When you feel your success, you always want to recreate this feeling, because success is not with you for ever. You have to fight for it again and again. This feeling is something that inspires me and drives me foreword. The feeling when you discover and understand the things in the world, the clearness when you understand that now you know something. It comes from working and education, you somehow always try to overcome and understand something new in your life. This broadens your horizons and it is nice. Success and this feeling come together for me.
Do you see any relationship between your work and the city of Tbilisi?
My work is not so strongly connected with Tbilisi. It is much more connected with larger Georgian culture. I do not focus on Tbilisi, because Tbilisi is like a vampire-whole Georgian culture, everyone is so focused on Tbilisi that we are forgetting about the other parts of our own country. I try not to be focused on it. I prefer to have links with the whole country.