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Issue no: 1183

• SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

FOCUS

ON GEORGIAN WOMEN

Women have always played a crucial role, President says. And yet they still receive a lower salary...

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... PMCG Research: Men Earn 37% More than Women in Georgia

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NEWS PAGE 2

Khajimba, Vote Hunter

POLITICS PAGE 4

5G to Boost Asia Pacific's Digital Economy Development

“There is even pressure for you to be happy” – Degot on the Steirischer Herbst Festival, the Contemporary World, Georgian Artists & Tbilisi EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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hat we call art now is mostly a 19th-century concept - Ekaterina Degot, art historian, writer, and curator, tells us in an exclusive interview. “Nowadays, art is an enormous field with a lot of directions based on everything from Modernist to Folklore ideas. This variety shows that art is the human desire to produce something that does not have a utilitarian task but at the same time is needed for the understanding and presentation of human nature and the world. This desire is very old, keeping in mind the art of indigenous people – and it persists even now.” Steirischer Herbst (meaning Styrian Autumn), one of Europe’s oldest interdisciplinary festivals of contemporary art, takes place in Graz (Austria) annually every autumn. Through art, the festival addresses the political and social issues of the local and international community. Steirischer Herbst 2019 is particularly interesting to Georgia as two Georgian artists, Guram Matskhonashvili and Giorgi Gagoshidze, are to

BUSINESS PAGE 4

Georgia Ranked 17th Country in World for Wine Exports BUSINESS PAGE 6

Up and Running: Mestia, Svaneti exhibit there. Last year, the festival got a new director, the Russian curator and scholar Ekaterina Degot. While visiting Tbilisi, Degot talked to GEORGIA TODAY about the festival, the challenges of contemporary art, the Georgian artists involved and Tbilisi, the city that, as she claims has ‘kept its soul’.

We ask her what got her into the field. “Well, everybody does what they love to do and I’ve always loved art. Growing up in the Soviet Union, I was not allowed to travel much and by studying world art history, I felt like I was traveling the globe. I think that played a big role in my interest.” Continued on page 9

SOCIETY PAGE 8

Capturing the Vibe: What Does Tbilisi Sound Like? CULTURE PAGE 11


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

PMCG Research: Men President Zurabishvili: Women Earn 37% More than Always Played a Crucial Role Women in Georgia in Georgian History BY THEA MORRISON

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alome Zurabishvili, the first female President of Georgia, this week highlighted the important role women have played in the history of the

Image source: australiapostcollectables.com.au

BY THEA MORRISON

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MCG organization has published an overview on the gender pay gap in Georgia and indicates that, as of 2018, the difference in salaries of men and women is 37% and if the trend does not change, it will take about 30 years to eliminate the existing differences. The organization says that last year the average salary of a man in Georgia was 1360.5 GEL ($458.53), and the salary of a

woman was 856.2 GEL ($288.6), which means a difference of 37.07%. “Analysis of unequal pay has been possible since 2001, when the pay of women was 49% lower than that of men. Although the absolute difference between the average salaries of the two sexes has been increasing, the percentage difference has been decreasing since 2005,” the survey reads. It also says that between 2005 and 2013, the pay gap fell from 51.06% to 36.43%, but then increased by half a percent, resulting in today's 37.07%. Continued on page 3

country. In her interview with French media outlet Le Figaro, Zurabishvili noted that the claims of some analysts that Georgian society was very conservative for a long time, and that women stayed at home while men worked, are incorrect. “This is a stereotype. Women have always played a very important role in the history of Georgia. First of all, Georgia was converted to Christianity by a woman. Then, during the Georgian Renaissance and the Golden Age, the country was ruled by a woman titled "King." All of this has had a huge impact on the relationship between men and women,” she said. The President noted that even in the Soviet times, everyone worked equally and after the collapse of the SSSR, the role of Georgian women was strengthened. “Women took over the country's destiny and adapted to the reality of the industrial breakdown. Georgia was lost, without a strong economy, standing before a world which was opening its door. Men had the mission to protect the country in olden times, and afterwards had to try to rediscover their places,” she added. Asked if this is an incentive for domestic violence in the country, Zurabishvili

said it is mainly connected to the fact that men do not want to lose their “rank,” adding one of the main examples of this is seen in emigration, where the majority of leavers are women who send their salaries back to their men, who stay in Georgia. Regarding the lack of women in Georgian politics, the President said that the number of women in Parliament is not impressive and amounts to only 15% of MPs. “However, I’m against gender quotas, which my female colleagues have perceived very badly. In my opinion, the lack of women in Parliament is further explained by the fact that politics is not yet an attractive field for women. For a Georgian woman, medicine, work in an international organization and law are more attractive fields than fighting for politics. Nevertheless, the Georgian government does boast five female ministers,” she noted. The President also underlined that being a woman has never been an obstacle for her to become successful and competitive in politics. “When I went to the French Foreign Ministry, I was pregnant and unmarried. It did not cause any problems,” she said. Zurabishvili became the first female President of Georgia in November 2018. She was born on 18 March 1952 in Paris into a family of Georgian immigrants. In 1974-2004, she worked in the diplomatic service for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France in several embassies and with French representations to international organizations (UN, NATO, the Western European Union, OSCE). In 2003, she was appointed as Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador

of France to Georgia and in 2004-2005 she served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. After leaving the post, she founded the political party ‘Georgia’s Way.’ In 2006-2015, she was an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, France, and from 2010 to 2015 she led the United Nations Security Council monitoring group on sanctions against Iran. In 2016, she became an independent Deputy in the Parliament of Georgia. During the 2018 Georgian presidential election, Zurabishvili ran as an independent candidate supported by the ruling Georgian Dream party. She prevailed in a run-off vote against candidate of the united opposition, Grigol Vashadze, and assumed the President’s Office in December 2018.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

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Zurabishvili Criticized for Pardoning Prisoner who Killed Police Officer BY AMY JONES

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resident of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili has been criticized for her decision to pardon Ramaz Devadze who was convicted in December 2014 for killing a police officer in Batumi. The court sentenced Devadze to twelve years in prison in 2015 after he fatally shot Tarash Mukbaniani, a 22-year old police officer, at Legas night club in Batumi. Devadze used Mukbaniani’s service gun, which Mukbaniani was carrying despite not being on duty. “Ramaz Devadze was released from prison yesterday,” his lawyer David Japaridze confirmed. He had served a third of his sentence. Devadze denied murder, claiming the killing was manslaughter. “Ramaz Devadze did not intentionally kill Mukbaniani,” his lawyer told news network Akhati Taoba. “None of the courts paid any attention to the nightclub’s video camera recordings which make it clear that the policeman initially started shooting at the club. Ramaz was able to confiscate his weapon and fired an accidental shot,” he continued. The police officer’s family, as well as members of the ruling party Georgian Dream, have heavily criticized Zurabishvili for including Devadze on her list of pardons released on August 28, the national holiday of Mariamoba. “On what grounds did she let him out of prison? She should be held responsible for her decision,” Mukbaniani’s mother told Imedi. Prominent members of Georgia Dream, such as Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze and the general secretary and Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, also publically spoke out against the decision, whilst others questioned the process by which Zurabishvili selects prisoners to be pardoned. Since taking office in December 2018, Zurabishvili has pardoned 91 prisoners. However, the process

is controversial. Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani criticized Zurabishvili’s pardoning list, claiming that it was not discussed with the justice ministry. Typically, the Pardon Commission, formed by members of civil society, composes a list of recommendations for a presidential pardon. In December 2018, the commission’s chair Zviad Koridze resigned, disagreeing with the way Zurabishvili appointed new commission members. The President’s office has not released information regarding Koridze’s replacement. Public Defender and former member of the Par-

PMCG Research: Men Earn 37% More than Women in Georgia Continued from page 2 “If the above 10-year trend does not change, it will take 30 years to eliminate the wage gap and, according to the statistics of the last five years, the average salaries of men and women cannot become equal,” the organization says. It was also noted that in 2018, Georgia's potential workforce, 15 years old and up, was 3.034 million people. Women represent 53.6% of this 15+ population, but only 46.6% of the workforce, which means fewer women participate in the workforce than men. “The level of women's activity has increased from 54.4% to 55.6% since 2010. The main cause of the slight increase may be the decline in population, as the number of women in the labor force has not increased,” says PMCG, adding women’s activity level of 2018, which is 55.6%, is not a satisfactory number, especially when the activity level for men is 73.6%. It added that this difference can be explained by certain stereotypes, and based on empirical examples it may be argued that the low activity level contributes to the pay gap. PMCG believes one of the main reasons for the pay gap may be the disproportionate distribution of men and women in different sectors. For example, in the five highest-paid sectors, women exceed men only in one sector, while in the lowest-paid sectors, they are represented as a majority in the top three sectors. In particular, men are predominant in sectors such as construction and in the electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply sectors. The average wages in these sectors are GEL 1513-1757, making them the fourth and fifth highest paid jobs.

For comparison, in the education sector, which is considered the lowest-paid sector, 82% of employees are women. PMCG says another important factor that also contributes to unequal salaries is the type of activity in the sector. In particular, in the financial and insurance sectors, where the difference between salaries is most noticeable, 74.2% of women work as office staff while only 56.2% of men also do so. In high-paid jobs, such as specialist-professional, the percentage of men is twice that of women. “Based on the available data, it may be inferred that some of this difference is due to the different working hours of men and women and the different career decisions they make at an early age. Traditions may also greatly influence these decisions,” the organization stated. In late August, the Women’s Movement in Georgia protested the existing pay gap in the country, saying the difference between men and women’s salaries in Georgia is 36%. The organization said studies show that high wage differences directly increase the number of economically inactive women and also have a bad impact on child poverty. “The government must ensure a non-discriminatory wage and labor conditions that will empower women and boost the country's economy,” they said. The Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, also commented on the issue, confirming that gender equality in labor relations and economic empowerment of women remains a challenge in Georgia, which in turn has a negative impact on women's legal status, including increasing their vulnerability to discrimination and domestic violence.

don Commission Ucha Nanuashvili told OC Media that to his knowledge “the Commission is not active under the current president.” “It is not clear how the President makes decisions [to grant pardons]. Some general criteria exist but the point of the commission is to ensure the risks, like the one which was not avoided in this case, are considered,” he reported to OC Media. Zurabishvili is not the first Georgian president to be criticized for her choice of pardons. In February 2018, Iago Nebieradze was released from prison

after Giorgi Margvelashvili, then-President, halved his sentence. Originally imprisoned for robbery, Nebieradze raped and murdered an 8-year-old girl in Gori in October 2018 following his release. Margvelashvili also pardoned Vepkhia Bakradze, convicted for domestic violence, who slit his stepdaughter’s throat following his release. Zurabishvili, who was on a state visit in Poland at the time of the criticism, told Imedi that she would not justify her decision to grant clemency as it was at the President’s discretion.


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POLITICS

Khajimba, Vote Hunter

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

BUSINESS

5G to Boost Asia Pacific's Digital Economy Development

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Image source: alchetron.com

OP-ED BY ZAZA JGARKAVA

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he events surrounding the so-called presidential elections in occupied Abkhazia exceeded all expectations. Although the second round was predicted by all election observers, no one was able to foretell the results. Who could have imagined that the favorite candidate of President Putin, the current “president” Raul Khajimba, would fail to get even a fourth of the total votes. But he wasn’t alone, as neither of the other eight candidates were able to gather 25% of the votes and all this in light of the fact that the number of voters on the occupied territory doesn’t exceed 129,000. Khajimba, who got the most votes, received only 20,304. Oppositional candidate Alkhas Kvitsinia gathered 19,032 votes, while the favorite of former “president” Ankvab, Oleg Arshba, got 18,931 votes. The rest of the candidates got no more than 6,000 votes altogether. Khajimba and Kvitsinia will participate in a second round and now everything depends on those 45,000 voters who did not show up on polling day on August 25. Khajimba believes that he has the relevant resources to increase the number of voters and states that he will work on this part of the electorate during the time that is left before the second round. “We know where we failed and which votes we will be able to get,” he told journalists on August 26. This resembles the events that took place during last year’s Georgian presidential elections, when the fate of the chosen was determined by the voters who didn’t vote during the first round: it was these people whose votes were “bought” by the Georgian Dream for Salome Zurabishvili. But how President Putin will act in this situation, we will find out on September 10. The similarities between elections go further: remember when the electorate from Ninotsminda mixed up Mikheil Saluashvili and Mikheil Saakashvili? Likewise the Abkhazian voters confused Artur Ankvab for Alexandre Ankvab. With the help of Saakashvili and the Ninotsminda voters’ mistake, Saluashvili got the votes, as Artur Ankvab got 1403 votes from the Gudauri electorate. If we recall the parliamentary elections of 2012, the United National Movement

lost in those election districts where it had worked most: Batumi and Sighnaghi. The same happened to Khajimba: he lost the districts where his campaign had worked hardest. There hasn’t been a yard or a road which wasn’t repaired in the new district of Sokhumi; Khajimba was even named Concrete Raul for the endeavor, which obviously proved futile. Despite Khajimba’s hopes, everyone in Sokhumi is convinced that the presidential prospects for both candidates are in the hands of Alexandre Ankvab, whose favorite candidate got only 102 votes less than Kvitsinia before the elections, Ankvab was asking for the post of so-called Prime Minister and for the completion of the government. Naturally, after August 25, his ambitions only increased. As for the Kremlin, it seems to be in a win-win situation. Khajimba is known to be Putin’s favorite, and the two met in Sochi before the elections, which obviously didn’t make a difference. Maybe Putin’s neutrality is the result of the 2004 experience, when Putin openly supported Khajimba and called Abkhazians to vote for him and instead the elections were won by Sergei Bagapsh. Today, Khajimba’s situation is far more difficult: where in 2004 he was only known as being the colleague of Putin in the KGB, today everyone knows that Khajimba is the protector of corruption and criminals. Compared to this, Kvitsinia has a good reputation. He has been working as the Deputy Major of Sokhumi for years in a territory still considered an oasis for corruption, with candidates including Khajimba unable to discredit him. Kvitsinia’s clean reputation has made him known as a person who fights corruption and criminals, which is what he has based his election campaign upon. As for the approach of the Kremlin, it hasn’t shown any pretentions yet. It will likely be supporting this candidate too, as Moscow needs to have a leader in the occupied territory with such a clean reputation. At the moment, Khajimba is 1615 votes ahead of Kvitsinia, about the same number difference seen between Salome Zurabishvili and Grigol Vashadze after the first round of presidential elections last year. Whether the same scenario will repeat in Sokhumi, we will see soon. What Khajimba needs now is a protector who is willing to spend his money on votes, just like Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream did for Zurabishvili.

uawei is enabling sustainable development of a digital economy in the Asia Pacific region by leveraging on 5G. The company also seeks to help carriers across the Asia Pacific region to deploy 5G faster and fully leverage the advantages of 5G. Announced at the 5th Huawei AsiaPacific Innovation Day, the conference also saw more than 200 representatives from government, industry and academia across the region get together to discuss 5G technologies and applications. “5G is arriving at the right time. More specifically, it can provide wide coverage, large bandwidth, and low latency on the basis of traditional connections. It can also provide network slicing for different applications. This new feature makes it adaptable to a variety of complex industrial applications. With the advancement of 5G, there will be many 5G-enabled applications that will change the world. At the same time, 5G, AI, IoT and cloud are improving everyday life and nature, making the world a better place,” said Huawei’s board director and president of the Institute of Strategic Research, William Xu. Asia Pacific is leading the world in terms of 5G deployment, with South Korea being the first country to commercial the use of the technology. Xu said since the rollout of 5G in early April, the number of subscribers have exceeded two million. Three major carriers in China, namely China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, have also deployed 5G networks in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu. To date, Huawei has secured over 50 5G commercial contracts worldwide and shipped over 200,000 5G base stations. Meanwhile, at the event, China Mobile Sichuan and Huawei launched a 5G stereocoverage network to achieve seamless 5G coverage. Other than carriers, Huawei also partners with industry players to demonstrate various innovative industry applications, including 5G+VR, 5G+8K video, 5G telemedicine and more. All these indicate the infinite potential applications of 5G in the era of commercial use.

HUAWEI IS HELPING CARRIERS ACROSS ASIA PACIFIC TO DEPLOY 5G FASTER Asia-Pacific is leading the world in terms of 5G deployment. South Korea is the world's first country that has realized large-scale commercial use of 5G. Since the rollout of 5G in early April, the number of 5G subscribers in this country exceeded 2 million. South Korea has become the global benchmark for the commercial use of 5G. China has built a large-scale 5G network for pilot commercial use. The three major carriers have deployed 5G networks in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chengdu. The tested downlink rate

is as high as 1 Gbps, which means it takes only seconds to download an HD movie in 1080P. 5G is becoming a reality. Around the world, 35 carriers in 20 countries have launched 5G and 33 other countries have distributed 5G spectrum. Huawei has secured over fifty 5G commercial contracts worldwide and shipped over 200,000 Massive MIMO AAUs. With rich exaperience in 5G pilot commercial use and active exploration of 5G innovative applications, Huawei is committed to providing the safest and most advanced 5G products and solutions, as well as application scenarios. Huawei seeks to enable carriers in the Asia-Pacific region to deploy 5G faster and fully leverage the advantages of 5G. The aim is to empower numerous industries, improve social efficiency and accelerate industrial digitization.

WITH THE LAUNCH OF 5G STEREO-COVERAGE NETWORK, THERE WILL BE MORE 5G-ENABLED INNOVATIVE APPLICATIONS At the event, China Mobile Sichuan and Huawei launched a 5G stereo-coverage network, which consists of a basic coverage layer, a capacity experience layer and indoor coverage for high-value scenarios to achieve seamless coverage of 5G. In addition, Huawei has partnered with carriers and other industry partners to demonstrate various innovative industry applications, including 5G+VR, 5G+8K video, 5G+drones, 5G telemedicine and 5G ambulances. All these indicate the infinite potential applications of 5G in the era of commercial use. Guests from government, industry and academia gave speeches from various perspectives, such as policy-making and regulation and industry digitization. They talked about how innovative technologies can support the development of the cultural industry and natural ecological protection and shared typical cases on how "5G+AI"canempowernumerousindustries.

TECHNOLOGY FOR GOOD - THE USE OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES OPENS UP A

BETTER INTELLIGENT WORLD StorySign is an AI-enabled application that uses image recognition and optical character recognition technologies to translate children's books into sign language, helping deaf and mute children learn how to read. In Costa Rica, a company called Rainforest Connection has deployed solarpowered monitoring equipment in 2,500 km2 of rainforest. With the massive data storage and intelligent analysis capabilities of Huawei Cloud, the monitoring equipment can process complex audio data in the rainforest in real-time, and identify the noises of chainsaws and trucks in an accurate and timely manner, so as to prevent illegal logging. Helping vulnerable groups, protecting the earth, and realizing the harmonious development between man and nature are issues that concern everyone in society. New technologies like 5G, cloud, IoT and AI are shaping a world where all things will be sensing, connected and intelligent. The intelligent world is coming to all individuals, all companies, and all industries. Technologies are making the world a better place. Since 2013, Huawei Innovation Day has been held in different cities, including London, Milan, Munich, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Dubai, and São Paulo. Following the principles of openness, innovation, collaboration and shared success, Huawei is committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of HUAWEI's three business units, mainly focusing on Smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications business and serves to provide innovative technologies to customers around the world.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

Georgia Ranked 17th Country in World for Wine Exports BY AMY JONES

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he Association of American Wine Economists (AAWE) has ranked Georgia in 17th position in their list of wine exporting countries in the world, released on 30 August. Based on data from 2018, Georgian wine companies exported 86.2 million bottles of wine totaling $196.6 million in value, the AAWE reported. A total of 284 wine companies, 34 more than in 2017, sent bottles to 53 countries around the world. Georgia placed behind The Netherlands and Austria and ahead of Lithuania and Belgium. A well-known wine nation, France topped the list, exporting wine with a value totaling $11,055.9 million. Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile, the USA, Germany, New Zealand, Portugal and the UK all ranked in the top ten. Georgian wine exports have been increasing year on year. In August, Forbes Magazine reported that wine exports from Georgia to the United States grew by 88% in the first half of 2019. As one of the oldest wine regions in the world and with 525 grape varieties, Georgia has a strong winemaking tradition. Indeed, unique wine methods, such as Qvevri, which is a UNESCO-protected winemaking technique, have helped to

put Georgian wines on the map. “Wine professionals have discovered Georgia’s indigenous varieties, which reflect a deep sense of place,” Julie Peterson, Managing Partner of Marq Wine Group told Forbes. “There is growing interest in low-intervention wines, and because Georgians have continually produced wines using natural, ancient methods for 8,000 years, they stand at the epicenter of this practice.” However, despite Georgia’s historic link to wine, companies have faced setbacks over the past decades. Winemakers have worked to bring back unique varieties of grapes that were phased out during the Soviet era to make way for generic sorts that were easier to produce for the mass market. In addition, a Russian wine embargo imposed in 2006 forced the industry to diversify its market. At the time, Russia was the biggest export market for Georgian wines, as the destination for a staggering 92% of wine exports. Russia is now once again an important market for Georgian wines. In 2018, Georgian wine exports to Russia totaled 15% of the total exports by value. This year, Georgia may also face difficulties due to a challenging grape harvest and further Russian sanctions. Chairman of the Georgian National Wine Agency reported in August. “Producers say they will buy less grapes than planned as they could face problems selling wine,”

Image source - Just a Glass of Wine

he said, adding that Georgian wine exports to Russia had decreased. Nonetheless, today, Georgia’s wine industry is transforming from small

home-based makers into an important industry, using both qvevri and European methods. Despite being a small country, there are more than 500 wine

companies and 100,000 home wineries registered in Georgia and the number of wine exports is expected to continue to rise.

Natia Turnava on Need for Deep Sea Port The Minister added that container shipping in January-August grew by 37% compared to the same period of last year, which was the highest indicator in the last decade. “Nowadays, Georgia is really transforming into a regional transport hub. Working on the trans-European transport network and integration of the country’s transit systems into the network will continue. This is a project that brings us closer to Europe. In response to the challenges in the field of transport and the development of the transit corridor, we are planning to digitize the transit corridor through Georgia with our partner countries. This means not only the physical existence of the infrastructure but also a high-tech model of management, which will further increase the attractiveness of our corridor,” Turnava said.

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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atia Turnava, the candidate for the post of the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, has pointed out the importance and necessity of a deep sea port for the country at today’s committee hearing in Parliament. “Such high growth in container shipping once again shows that there are all the prospects necessary for developing our port infrastructure even faster. The country has long needed a deep sea port. We are doing our best to ensure that this project is implemented and supported. We are looking forward to the moves of the investors involved in this project," Turnava said.

Georgia Ranks 68 on Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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ecently published data from the World Economic Forum shows that Georgia is the 68th country in Travel & Tourism Competitiveness out of 140 countries. Published biennially, the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report and Index benchmark the T&T competitiveness of 140 countries and their different economies. Measuring the set of factors and

policies that enable the sustainable development of the T&T sector, the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report shows the development and competitiveness of a country. The report put Georgia in the subgroup of Europe and Eurasia. The world rating puts Georgia in 68th place, ahead of neighbor Azerbaijan (71th) and Armenia (78). The ranking gave Russia 39th standing. The top five countries most competitive in Travel and Tourism according to the report are 1. Spain, 2. France, 3. Germany, 4. Japan, 5. USA


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

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Georgia’s Linguistic Delusion OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he average Georgian parent sounds awfully funny when it comes to the problem of enlightening their precious posterity. I fall into hysterics hearing them reiterate absentmindedly the popular but terribly trivial wisdom about a knowledge of foreign tongues, perpetuating the idea that the more languages we are fluent in, the more of a person we are. In fact, it is a curse for smaller nations to be so egregiously coerced, for cultural reasons, into learning somebody else’s tongue, be it an ally or a nemesis. Georgia, for instance, was historically compelled at various stages of its development to speak Greek, Arabic, Mongolian, Turkish, Persian, Russian and now English, in addition to its native tongue. For plain survival, Georgians have always needed to be at least bilingual, if not trilingual, for that matter. The historical multi-lingual indispensability persists even today, and it will not end in future either. The logic of the imposed ‘sweat’ is not rocket science: no matter how lovely and unique our native Georgian is, it is still not enough for us to stay in active touch with the world. And without a tight interconnection with the rest of humankind, we can hardly survive, especially because the world is not prepared at this time to master the Georgian language to communicate with us. This is just one side of the medal. The other side is that knowledge of foreign languages is in no way a sufficient device for staying alive and sated. We also, if not in the first place, need knowledge of many other instruments of survival,

like math, science, computing, technology, genetics, engineering and what not. This is just a short list of tools for our continued existence. Axiomatically, time for human life is strictly limited, and one third of that god-allotted instance is spent on sleep. The remaining amount of lifetime has to be broken up with utmost reason and precision and given to what we truly need to learn to stay alive. The balance in this kind of time allotment would serve the nation perfectly well. So, if we persist with our kids in talking them into learning as many languages as they can, we might find our-

selves on the verge of a precipice of irrationality. Our children should only learn what needs to be learned, and what is dictated by absolutely existential necessity. In the very first place, they need to learn what makes their survival realistic. Meanwhile, the subsidiary lore like a knowledge of languages has to be subject to very serious deliberation and decisionmaking. If we spend most of our children’s energy on learning languages, we will never make survival-oriented moneymakers out of them. Languages do not make money unless they are professionally used by teachers and translators or as an auxiliary qualification for a spe-

cialist. Well, if we want to learn a foreign language for fun, that’s OK of course, but spending most of our time on languages, hoping that a polyglot has a better chance of survival, is simply wrong. It might be plausibly helpful to learn the language of the country of which we want to become a permanent citizen, but this is a horse of a totally different color. So, let us tell our kids that the connection with the rest of the world may be made and maintained via the most usable language of the world. The main sense that I am trying to put into this didactic piece is that we should not overload our kids with learning every lan-

guage in the world that they come across accidentally, but only the one that makes their future life definitely more qualitative than without it. And time must be given to learning sciences in their stead, which will determine what kind of people and what sort of survivors our little ones are going to make in the future. The delusion that we are overwhelmed with, only in terms of our education in general, would not allow us and our children to be as reasonable as we should, but this does not mean that our eyes must be closed forever. We will certainly see the light someday. The matter is how soon!

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GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

Up and Running: Mestia, Svaneti

BLOG BY TONY HANMER

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ow I can cross off “eat cake with a printed icing top” from my bucket list. Also, “meet an ambassador from Japan”. Both events happened at the same time: the official opening of the Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities in Mestia, named after the late Kakha Paliani. This project, long the dream of Ruta Casabianca who runs Together for Real Changes, and many local families with members with disabilities, is now fully operational, with a capacity of over 100 people! It includes easy access to residential facilities for those wanting to stay and receive rehabilitation and training in family units, the first such facility in all Georgia! A large and well-equipped kitchen and bathroom facilities; and a number of rooms for the various types of rehabilitation offered. It was funded largely by the Grassroots and Human Security Grant Assistance Program of the Government of Japan; thus the presence of H.E. Mr Tadaharu Uehara, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan for Georgia and several of his staff. 10 Members of the internationally famous Riho Svan singing ensemble opened the day with a couple of their best songs. The Mayor of Mestia, Kapi-

ton Zhorzholiani, and his deputy, the Ambassador, TRC Board head Nana Lomadze and Ruta all gave speeches about the importance of this facility and this day. Two local boys with special needs dazzled us with some Svan dancing. The ribbon was cut, we toured the facility, had cake and champagne along with families of disabled children. As I have written before, it is most encouraging to see such centers being opened here in the far-flung regions of Georgia, away from the big urban areas with their multiplicities of available infrastructure and help for the needy. And these largely hidden away people, traditionally unacknowledged as existing at all in society, can finally come into the light, receive help, be taken care of, their families be given training and a break and support for their heroic work. This is profound. If 20 and more years ago special needs children in Georgian orphanages were… dying of malnutrition in their own excrement, unschooled and practically untouched and ignored, now at least some of them have the possibility not to live in institutions but to stay at home and in society, loved and looked after. The Georgian government and people of Japan, along with those of Bulgaria and others who have also contributed to the building and running of places like this and more over more than 20 years, are to be applauded for their humanitarian work to improve life in Georgia for

many of its most vulnerable citizens. As I watched the Ambassador sitting down to eat cake with several of the attending children, shrugging off any special status which might cling to someone of his long title, I was impressed. He has a genuine interest in what is happening here, and neither is this his first (or last) visit to Svaneti. I was able to tell him that while my teenage dream of becoming an apprentice to a Japanese potter was never fulfilled, I still have enormous respect for the arts of his country, the highest practitioners of which are given the title of Living National Treasure. One day I’ll go and see it all myself. Who knows which of these children present and the others who will join them are just as talented? Whether they are or not (and we will be given the chance to find out at last), they are being recognized as people like anyone else, which will make all the difference to their young, newly allowed to be blossoming lives. Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with nearly 2000 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/ He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: www.facebook.com/hanmer.house.svaneti


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

“There is even pressure for you to be happy” – Degot on the Steirischer Herbst Festival, the Contemporary World, Georgian Artists & Tbilisi Continued from page 1

SOME OF YOUR EARLIER WORK, LIKE THE EXHIBITION OF UNDERWEAR IN SOVIET TIMES, COULD BE DESCRIBED AS A PROTEST. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT ART SHOULD SERVE THE STATE IN THE FORM OF SOCIAL ACTIVISM? ARE YOU AN ACTIVIST? Social activism today is something that goes against the state, working in opposition to it. Many artists see their role in some sort of social activism. I’m not a part of the movement and I don’t live in Russia right now, and being in Russia would probably require me to be an activist. I live in a quiet town in the quiet country of Austria, where I can be critical of art and politics without being labeled a ‘social activist’. There’s no need for me to fight for artists’ rights.

TELL US ABOUT THE STEIRISCHER HERBST FESTIVAL. WHAT IS ITS AIM? It started in 1968 on the border with the Soviet Union and quite far from the big center of European culture of the time. The former Nazis were still in power in education in Austrian universities. Avant-garde artists were feeling very lonely in a hostile environment and this defined the whole energy of the festival – the confrontation with society. At the same time, of course, we have to win society over. So this festival strives to make a big social impact. Steirischer Herbst mainly consists of visual art but the festival also includes literature, theater, music and discussions. We want to stimulate society to political and social discussions through art.

THIS IS YOUR SECOND YEAR CURATING THE FESTIVAL. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE? We do not have our own spaces, so each year we have to find space in Graz and other towns for our exhibition of concepts both practical and historical. It needs to be a place with a great story that not only tells of the past of the location but is somehow connected to the story of international society. Then we have to find artists that fit into the specific theme and space. This is what we call a challenge but at the same time is what brings us the most interesting results. Installations in former shops… exhibitions in churches…

LAST YEAR’S THEME WAS ‘NEW SOFT FASCISM,’ THIS YEAR ‘HEDONISM.’ HOW ARE THESE ‘LITTLE FASCISMS’ RELEVANT IN SOCIETY TODAY? Unfortunately, all over the world, conservatism is on the rise. It has different forms, different faces. In Austria, like in many European countries, the right-wing nationalist party has the legacy of the Nazis. Of course, we have to deal with this. Plus, we are surrounded by a lot of countries like Hungary, where this political tendency is much stronger – we are reflecting on this phenomenon.

ANOTHER THEME THIS YEAR IS ‘THE GRAND HOTEL ABYSS.’ WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS METAPHOR BY GEORG LUKÁCS? We had the city of Graz in mind. The architecture there is really old, mostly baroque. There is almost no modernist architecture. This style on churches and apartment complexes serves as propaganda. It, along with the culinary pleasure that is a big part of the culture in the region, shows a great deal of hedonism. Enjoying life on the verge of the apocalypse – which is what the Grand Hotel Abyss is all about. There is this feeling that we enjoy life while the catastrophe is building up outside – that is the phenomenon of hedonism we are looking at in the exhibition of Steirischer Herbst ’19.

THE METAPHOR CONSISTS OF TWO CONCEPTS: THE HOTEL OF PLEASURE AND THE ABYSS OUTSIDE OF IT. IN TODAY’S WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE GRAND HOTEL AND WHAT IS THE ABYSS? The hotel is this life in Europe. I’m not talking about the whole world, but Europe enjoys this fortress that it has built which does not let outsiders in. For the enjoyment of their lifestyle, each day’s pleasure and happiness has become more conceptualized. There is even pressure for you to be happy. It is constantly published on social media. This is new to European culture, maybe it is something that came from America. In Europe, in Austria and Russia at least, you are rather supposed to complain. It’s impolite to say you are so well. But now there is the pressure. Consumerism is a part of it, but maybe the needing and feeling

of pleasure are more enhanced by the feeling that our civilization is coming to an end. The abyss is the future of our civilization which is very much under question, ecologically but more so politically. I would say very few people have an optimistic view of our future. Most people can’t help but feel that the world is going in the wrong direction.

WHAT BRINGS YOU TO TBILISI? I’m here to assist the rehearsals for the play we are putting on for the festival. The festival tries to do exclusive pieces of theater, which is never easy. The play that I commissioned is written by Keti Chukhrov who is an important poet and philosopher living in London and Moscow. She wrote a satiric comedy titled Global Congress of PostProstitution, which takes place in Zugdidi. It is about love and sex between the genders but also between the West and the East. We are very happy that we have found a great, young and talented theater director for this play – Guram Matskhonashvili. We are here to get a glimpse of how the production is going.

WE UNDERSTAND YOU WERE LAST HERE DURING THE SOVIET PERIOD. HOW WOULD YOU SAY TBILISI HAS CHANGED? Actually, probably less than Moscow. Tbilisi has kept its charm and soul. Everybody loves it and, though I’ve been here only two days, I’m totally in love with it. I’m already making plans to come back and go to other places in Georgia. The Tbilisi landscape is very picturesque, but I rather feel that human relations are something that makes Tbilisi unique. I haven’t been here long, but I think that even the architecture of Tbilisi shows how social the city and its habitants are.

THERE ARE TWO GEORGIAN ARTISTS INVOLVED IN THE STEIRISCHER HERBST 2019. HOW DID THEY END UP PARTICIPATING? Keti wanted a Georgian artist to direct the play. And the other artist, Giorgi Gagoshidze, I came across accidentally. The film he has made is rather new but fits perfectly with the theme of the exhibition. He’s directed a very beautiful movie about his father and his lost hand. I found the humor of the movie very nice – the lost hand and the invisible hand of the market. And I see a great art potential here in Georgia, and the originality of Georgian artists.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR ARTIST’S TODAY? As always, the challenge is to say something about the contemporary world. Through realism, art is some sort of mirror to the society he or she represents, which simultaneously lets you see what that society is like. The challenge for an artist is to be heard, to access the world and to put himself in that mirror of art.

THE CURATORIAL CONCEPT OF THE FESTIVAL READS: “MANY OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS TO STEIRISCHER HERBST ENGAGE WITH APOCALYPTIC IMAGERY, NOT ONLY AS A MIRROR OF DYSTOPIAN TENDENCIES IN THE PRESENT BUT AS A SPACE FOR HOPE AND RENEWAL.” WHAT IS THIS HOPE AND WHAT RENEWAL SHOULD WE HOPE FOR? I think what is specific for visual artists, they like negativity. They feel very comfortable in catastrophic situations because they see it as a great environment in which to make art. The other thing is that they see the apocalypse as a form of revolution, too. Revolution is the moment when things turn around. I think this is the hope that sees the apocalypse as some form of revolution. There is a potential for more authentic popular forms in pop culture; theater is emerging. I am interested in parts of art where theater and visual arts come together. We have great potential there.

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CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY

SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

WHAT’S ON IN TBILISI THEATER

GABRIADZE THEATER 13 Shavtelis St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 65 93 September 6, 7 RAMONA Playwrite, director, and Art director: Rezo Gabriadze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL September 8 STALINGRAD The Autumn of My Springtime Playwrite, director, and Art director: Rezo Gabriadze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL September 11 REZO Directed by Leo Gabriadze Script: Rezo Gabriadze Producer: Timur Bekmambetov Genre: Animation, Biography Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 15 GEL September 12 The Autumn of My Springtime Playwrite, director, and Art director: Rezo Gabriadze Language: Georgian English Subtitles Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 20, 30, 40 GEL MUSEUM

GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM SIMON JANASHIA MUSEUM 3 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 299 80 22, 293 48 21 www.museum.ge Exhibitions: GEORGIAN COSTUME AND WEAPONRY OF THE 18TH-20TH CENTURIES NUMISMATIC TREASURY EXHIBITION STONE AGE GEORGIA ARCHEOLOGICAL TREASURE NEW LIFE TO THE ORIENTAL COLLECTIONS Until September 10 Under the joint initiative of Georgian National Museum and Georgian Post, Exhibition: STORY TOLD BY POSTAGE STAMPS Dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first Georgian stamp.

Until September 8 The Georgian National Museum and the Embassy of Japan in Georgia present Japanese CALLIGRAPHY MASTER KOSHU'S (AKEMI LUCAS) EXHIBITION "ECHO" IOSEB GRISHASHVILI TBILISI HISTORY MUSEUM - KARVASLA 8 Sioni St. TEL (+995 32) 2 98 22 81 Until September 10 The Georgian National Museum within the project "Contemporary Art Gallery" presents VAKHO BUGADZE'S EXHIBITION: ‘THREE, FOUR" Together with Vakho Bughadze are artists Gogi Okropiridze and Katrin Bolt. MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION 4 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 2 99 80 22, 2 93 48 21 www.museum.ge The exhibition hall is equipped with monitors, where visitors can see documentaries of various historical events. MUSEUM OF ILLUSIONS 10 Betlemi Str. Discover the Museum of Illusions Be brave enough to jump into an illusion created by the Vortex, deform the image of yourself in a Mirror Room, be free in the Infinity room, resist the laws of gravity and size ratio, and take selfies in every possible pose. Enjoy the collection of holograms, and discover optical illusions. GALLERY

THE NATIONAL GALLERY 11 Rustaveli Ave. TEL (+995 32) 215 73 00 Until February 26 (2020) GRAND MASTERS FROM THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION XIX – XX CENTURY CINEMA

INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FILM FESTIVAL “NIKOZI” Nikozi Village, Gori Venue: Bishop’s Palace September 6 FESTIVAL CLOSING 11:00- French Animation films,

Film of Animation Film Festival ‘Suzdal’ 13:00- Animation Film Retrospective and Master Class of the Director and animator Michael Dudock de Wit (The Netherlands) 15:00- Festival Closing Ceremony 16:30- Concert of Gori Women’s Choir MUSIC

TBILISI STATE CONSERVATOIRE 8 Griboedov St. TEL (+995 32) 2 93 46 24 September 6 PIANO MUSIC CONCERT Soloist- Irma Gigani In program: Works by Schubert, Liszt and Schuman Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 5, 10 GEL FOLKLORE CONCERTS FOR TOURISTS 4 Sanapiro Str. Every Sunday EGARI The concerts presents songs, trisagions, instrumental music, dance, urban folklore from different parts of Georgia and ethno-jazz music. The guest will listen live polyphony, diversity of instruments (Salamuri, Panduri, Chonguri, Chiboni, Doli) and it is amazing performance. Start time: 20:00 FOLK SHOW 10 Rustaveli Ave. September 6, 8, 10 FOLK SHOW The first full and systematic folk show made for tourists Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-55 GEL ELEKTROWERK 4 K. Cholokashvili III turn September 7 THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE- LIVE IN TBILISI Special guest- Backwarmer Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-55 GEL TSINANDALI CLASSICAL MUSIC FESTIVAL Tsinandali, Kakheti September 8 GUSTAV MAHLER Repertoire: Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 2 in C minor, "Resurrection" Soprano: Ying Fang

Mezzo-soprano: Ketevan Kemoklidze Chorus: Tbilisi Z. Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre Chorus Principal Chorus Master: Avtandil Chkhenkeli Chorus Master: Shalva Shaorshadze Orchestra: Pan-Caucasian Youth Orchestra Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 150-300 GEL September 9 HAYDN, BEETHOVEN, CHOPIN, LISZT Repertoire: Joseph Haydn Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob. XVI:52 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2, “Moonlight” Frédéric Chopin 4 Mazurkas, Op. 24 Franz Liszt "Reminiscences de Don Juan", S. 418 George Li (Piano Recital) Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 9 LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Repertoire: Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 Piano: Sir András Schiff Orchestra: Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra Conductor: Gabor Takacs-Nagy Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 150-300 GEL September 10 MENDELSSOHN, BRAHMS Repertoire: Felix Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49 Johannes Brahms Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8 Violin: Renaud Capuçon Cello: Edgar Moreau Piano: Nicholas Angelich Start time: 12:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 10 GEORGIAN NATIONAL BALLET SUKHISHVILI Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 30-100 GEL September 11 SHOSTAKOVICH, TCHAIKOVSKY Repertoire: Dmitri Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67 Pyotr Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50 Violin: Pinchas Zukerman Cello: Amanda Forsyth Piano: George Li Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-180 GEL September 11 BACH, MENDELSSOHN, HAYDN Repertoire: Johann Sebastian Bach Keyboard Concerto in G minor, BWV 1058 Felix Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 Joseph Haydn Symphony No. 88 in G major, Hob. I:88 Violin: Renaud Capuçon Orchestra: Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra Piano/Conductor: Sir András Schiff Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 25-300 GEL KHIDI Vakhushti Bagrationi Bridge, right embarkment September 12 CIRCE Experimental Platform for Dance and Theatre presents an event with Italian dance company Dewey Dell: Deriva Traversa, à elle vide, music

collaboration & Storm Altas live concert Start time: 20:0 Ticket: 10-30 GEL RUSTAVELI THEATER 17 Rustaveli Ave September 12 SOUNDWAVE: Zola Jesus New wave of live music Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 30 GEL AJARA

BLACK SEA ARENA Shekvetili September 7 FOLKLORE FESTIVAL Folk Songs and Dance Ensembles from Georgia and abroad. France (Corsica)- Spartimu, Italy (Sardinia)– Castelsardo, Georgia- "Bermukha" (Adjara), "Shilda" (Kakheti), Trio "Shalva Chemo" (Guria), "Riho" (Svaneti), "Basiani" and "Qartuli Khmebi" (Tbilisi), The State Song and Dance Ensemble of Kutaisi, Enver Khabadze State Choreographic Ensemble "Batumi" Start time: 20:00 Ticket: 10-50 GEL INTOURIST LOUNGE 11 Ninoshvili Str., Batumi September 7 E-STARR FROM OTTAWAN Start time: 23:00 Ticket: 40 GEL BATUMGORA Cable car Argo DAILY FOLKLORE SHOWS The whole summer through, you will have a wonderful opportunity to attend traditional folk shows every day from 8 pm. Enjoy UNESCO recognized traditional folk dances and songs, Georgian drum show and master classes in dancing 250 meters above the sea. Start time: 20:00 BATUMI BLACK SEA MUSIC AND ART FESTIVAL September 6 METHOD MICHEL SOGNY SOS TALENT Foundation Michel Sogny Start time: 14:00 Lydie Solomon; Recital; Beethoven; Ravel; Sogny Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL Venue: Batumi Drama Theater September 7 HENRI MATCHAVARIANI EXHIBITION Venue: Ajara Art Museum Start time: 17:00 Guram Odisharia Poetry Evening Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL Venue: Batumi Drama Theater September 8 OPEN AIR GALA CONCERT Venue: Dadiani Palace in Zugdidi Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL September 9 MICHEL SOGNY Impact of Musical Education Seminar Start time: 15:00 Art Palace of Western Guria ‘Piano Virtuoso Barbare Tataradze, Ilia Lomtatidze Start time: 18:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL Venue: Batumi Drama Theater September 10 GALA CONCERT Stars of Tomorrow: Liza Megrelishvili, Anahit Stelmashova, Eka Nikoladze, Barbare Chkhaidze, Barbare Tataradze, Lia Lomtatidze Start time: 19:00 Ticket: 10-20 GEL Venue: Batumi Drama Theater


CULTURE

GEORGIA TODAY SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2019

11

Capturing the Vibe: What Does Tbilisi Sound Like? THE MANY FACES OF GEORGIAN HIP-HOP

The Soundtrack of Tbilisi - by Magnus Lorenz

BY LORRAINE VANEY

O

n August 29, a new record appeared on the market. The Soundtrack of Tbilisi compiles 42 minutes of contemporary music from 11 Georgian artists. Each of them brought their own musical universe in a mix that captures the vibe of this fast-changing city, made of sharp dissonances and subtle harmonies. The record is the basis for the 2020 documentary by the same name, directed by Magnus Lorenz. Interestingly enough, Magnus turned the creation process upside down and created the soundtrack before the movie. This do-it-yourself project came to life thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that raised nearly €5000. Independent artists also contributed for free, which somehow reflects on the indie mood and visuals of the album. Natia Benashvili created the cover: a typical old Soviet elevator, dusty and full of stickers, totally relatable for anyone living in Tbilisi. “We are looking for authenticity” said Magnus at the release party during his short opening speech about both the playlist and design. Indeed, in the last years, foreign media have talked a lot about the striking development of the electronic scene in Georgia. Tbilisi has been pictured as

the next techno-destination in Europe thanks to underground clubs like Bassiani, Khidi and Café-Gallery; they have shaped the musical tastes of the new generation and raised awareness on important social issues. One can dance to electronic music every single day of the week in Tbilisi, which makes the city somewhat unified in one musical genre, but gives few spaces for other tastes. However, this is the visible part of the iceberg: below the surface is a broad and vibrant scene that grows in smaller recording studios and venues.

Hip-hop is certainly the most emergent genre of all at the moment, to the point that the BBC World Service’s team came in person this July to cover its blossom. The two prominent bands, MokuMoku and Kayakata had the floor to share their vision of art, music, and society in Georgia. They later released their first album ‘Sadaa,’ in August, which is infused with psychedelic trips and arty animations. The experimental hip-hop duo rap in Georgian, exploring and enhancing the musicality of their native language. They create a surreal language to talk about their Tbilisi, an urban jungle hidden in the Eurasian corner of the world. Although not on the record, Kayakata is a major player in the Georgian hiphop scene at the moment. They have featured with other Georgian rappers on many occasions, including DRO and Kordz, who are present on the face B of the Soundtrack of Tbilisi with their atmospheric, new school track “Rita”. It follows “Sleep on Me” from Creams, who delivers her nimble and confident flow to harsh deep beats. The only female rapper reflects here on her changing lifestyle, in an intimate and personal song. MokuMoku is a bigger ensemble of 10

Isodrome - Source film by César Tresca

musicians, bringing more old-school, jazzy and funky vibes to Georgian hiphop. They were touring in most of the summer festivals in Georgia and are currently working on their next album. Two of their members, Moku J and Moku T were gigging in Dedeana Bar on August 25 for the now traditional Sunday Hiphop night, going from 90s trip-hop to new school rap with ease and taste. It was surely a prolific summer for the band, with Moku T releasing his first solo instrumental album this June, ‘In Thru Mentals,’ made of underrated samples and lo-fi beats from diverse influences. MokuMoku appears on The Soundtrack of Tbilisi with their song “Sugar Glider” on face A.

AMBIENT TBILISI Fitting perfectly with the grey and brutal architecture, ambient music is also defining the musical universe of Tbilisi. The Soundtrack of Tbilisi actually opens the song “Daisi” from the two experimental musicians TeTe noise & VAZHMARR. On his webpage, TeteNoise describes his music as a “sound/noise collage [...] recorded in his home studio the Tbilisian streets.” The musician and producer has been crafting his own universe since 2009 and lately worked on the soundtrack of Uta Beria’s new movie, Negative Numbers, released in July 2019. Theosophy is another label that supports and promotes niche ambient artists, such as Saphileaum, Mind Static and Isodrome. The later dedicated one of his new tracks, ‘Source,’ to Tbilisi; the deep sonorities lightened by some

MokuMoku - by Giorgi Zatiashvili

melodic notes, capture the melancholic feeling that sometimes penetrates the city. The label describes itself as a “bright, living beam of light in our troubled world”, mixing cosmic-like sounds to more tribal, hypnotic rhythms.

ALWAYS ACOUSTIC Georgians’ passion for singing is nothing new; polyphonic singing is the cornerstone of Georgian traditional music, and probably the most well-known genre among tourists. The women’s choir Ialoni perfectly illustrates this unique culture with their song ‘Patara Zvima,’ on face A of the Soundtrack of Tbilisi. The record is also making rooms for acoustic and rock bands such as Ara, Bedford Falls, Ezos and Kid Jesus who close the record’s musical journey. Last but not least, Lua, winner of Georgia’s Newcomer Award, is of course part of the project with a brand new song ‘Hello Yellow Lady Sun.’ She gave a live performance in Zoestan during the release party; the bar was literally crowded with Tbilisian music enthusiasts, and with the artists themselves. Although the Soundtrack of Tbilisi is not setting new trends, it successfully shows the multiple colors of contemporary Georgian music. It is a musical illustration of the many layers that make Tbilisi a vibrant creative capital. The record is released in a very limited edition and only 100 copies are available for free sale. Copies can be purchased in the two branches of Dodo Beach Records in Berlin and in the Vinyl Salon Kiel. Both shops also offer international shipping. For the complete playlist, visit the website soundtrack.ge.

ARTTENT Tbilisi: The Newcomer to the Georgian Art Scene EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY LORRAINE VANEY

S

itting on the top of Mtastminda with a spectacular view over the city, the new contemporary art gallery “ARTTENT” opened in the midst of the summer on July 25. It took just one month for a handful of energetic Tbilisians to turn a spontaneous idea into an innovative cultural hub. The multifunctional space has many upcoming projects, and strong vision for the development of the local art scene and cultural ties between Georgia and the rest of the world. Maya Bichikashvili, who initiated the project, aims to make ARTTENT the next key actor of the Georgian art scene.

HOW WAS THE PROJECT BORN? I have done many things in my professional life, but eventually, everything boiled down to art. So, even if the idea of an art gallery came somehow spontaneously, it was clear to me that art is at the basis of everything. Art is something that brings you back to the roots

and to the original meaning of any kind of creation, regardless of the fields and purposes. This tent was here, on the historic site of the Tbilisi Funicular’s upper station, for four years. It was used for many events but when I contacted the owner, Alexander Tsivtsivadze, he saw the potential of the project and became our partner. Then, everything sped up thanks to the motivated and committed people I had the chance to gather around the idea.

ARTTENT IS NOW HOSTING MORE THAN 200 ARTWORKS CREATED BY GEORGIAN ARTISTS FROM DIFFERENT GENERATIONS. WHAT IS THE ART DIRECTION OF THE EXHIBITION? ‘The Anatomy of Existence’ was curated by professional art manager Thea Goguadze and a talented artist known as Tea Nili. She was the only one in town who was up for such a challenge; opening a contemporary platform in just one month. She used her contacts and her notoriety to select the pieces that, once combined, best express the variety of Georgian perspectives on their city and

PUBLISHER & GM

George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT

Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze

GEORGIA TODAY

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Art takes many forms and so does ARTTENT. The aim is to create something new, and meaningful for Georgia, where people from various backgrounds can mingle and exchange. People here are sometimes reluctant to get out of their own circles, which is at the end damaging to the development of our potential as a society. ARTTENT provides this inclusive venue for anyone involved in or attracted to art, from Georgia or from abroad.

ARTTENT opening - by Alexei Serov

BESIDES THE EXHIBITION ITSELF, WHAT DOES ARTTENT AIM TO BRING TO THE GEORGIAN ART SCENE?

is a way to strengthen cultural exchanges with foreign countries. It has to do with public diplomacy, and it can surely benefit Georgian society as a whole. For the art scene itself, we are supporting emerging artists by promoting their work to curators and doing consultancy for companies looking to purchase art. We will also organize educational activities and workshops, bringing artists and art lovers closer together.

The exhibition is a great platform for Georgian artists to show their work to a wide audience. Mtatsminda is obviously a strategic touristic location, and ARTTENT is building up the artistic reputation of Georgia among foreigners. It actually goes beyond tourism, as art

YOU ARE ALSO OPENING A CAFÉ, A CO-WORKING SPACE AND A CONCEPT STORE. WHAT KIND OF COMMUNITY WOULD YOU LIKE TO ATTRACT OR CREATE?

country. The exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of Georgian art and of the diverse mediums used by artists to express their visions. After our successful start, she became the ARTTENT director.

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Nini Dakhundaridze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

HOW DO SEE THE FUTURE OF ARTTENT? We want to team up with international partners and go global. Of course, there will be challenges on the way but with the right vision and the right team, it is possible to overcome them. Challenges are actually opportunities to learn on the way. The artistic scene is developing in Georgia and I wish it to get more and more attention from specialized media and professional art managers from overseas. Art is a way to secure the reputation of Georgia as a creative and welcoming place. It opens a lot of opportunities, and ARTTENT is ready to take up the challenge.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1183  

September 6 - 9, 2019

Issue #1183  

September 6 - 9, 2019

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