Saturday, May 31, 2014

BBC: Georgia's gold mine dilemma. By Rayhan Demytrie (

Source & Video:

What is worth more: a unique historic site or gold that lies within it?

That is a question Georgians have been grappling with since their government gave permission for industrial excavation to start at what scientists claim is the oldest known gold mine in the world.

The archaeological area, known as Sakdrisi, is a small grassy hill in the Bolnisi region, in the picturesque foothills of south-eastern Georgia.

For 10 years Professor Thomas Stoellner, a leading specialist in mining archaeology from the University of Bochum, Germany, has been studying the archaeological record at Sakdrisi together with his Georgian colleagues.

"When we went to do the first survey we found hammer stones - typical mining tools - thousands of them," says Prof Stoellner, who believes that tunnels inside the hill date back 5,400 years.

"At once I realised the importance of the site. When we got the first value carbon dates, and they were around 3,000 BC, it was clear that this was an exciting find which had never occurred in pre-historic mining."

Recently discovered artefacts including a unique set of spiral gold earrings found in neighbouring Azerbaijan can be traced to Sakdrisi, according to Prof Stoellner.

'No proof'

The Georgian government used to share this excitement and Sakdrisi was a protected cultural heritage site. But that status has been removed, and Professor Stoellner's views are being challenged.

"It's not proven that Sakdrisi is an ancient gold mine - it's just an assumption," Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili recently said at a meeting with university students.

Does that change in position have much to do with the mine's potential as a source of employment and revenue in the region?

Sakdrisi sits on prime territory licensed to a commercial gold mining company, RMG Gold. The Russian-owned company is a major investor in the Georgian economy.

Mr Garibashvili was keen to emphasise this: "The investor has already invested $300m [£178m; 219m euros] in the Georgian economy. This company has 3,000 employees and those people represent 3,000 families."

According to RMG's commercial director, Soso Tsabadze, their products, which include copper concentrates and gold alloys, make up about 10% of Georgia's total exports.

Although Sakdrisi hill occupies only nine hectares out of 193 hectares of licensed territory, RMG says it is vital for their operation.

"We estimate the area holds a deposit of 14 tonnes of gold, 30% of which lies immediately under the hill." says Mr Tsabadze.

"Initially Sakdrisi was cut out of the licensed territory because of the archaeological site," he explains.

"We sent experts to study how far from the site we could mine. They concluded that we would not be able to use drill and blast methods within one kilometre of the protected site.

They then posed a question: is this really an ancient archaeological site? This was a legitimate question because there was no scientific evidence."

To study the issue, the government appointed a commission, which ruled that there was no scientific proof that Sakdrisi was a gold mine and that its historic status had been granted in "gross violation" of Georgian law.

Protest camp

Civil society activists in Georgia have staged protests against the site's destruction. A few dozen young students have been camped out near Sakdrisi since mid-April.

Organisers of the protests want the government to invite an independent panel of international experts to decide on Sakdrisi.

Marina Mizandari was formerly deputy culture minister. She claims she was fired for criticising the decision to allow mining to proceed at Sakdrisi, and believes there are other ways to develop the region.

"If this archaeological heritage is maintained, it could become an educational scientific centre," she says.

"We have other ancient settlements nearby from the same epoch. We can follow the gold processing step by step, develop cultural tourism and contribute towards the sustainable development of this region."

Activists have also been seeking to attract attention to the mining industry's "disastrous" environmental record in the region, and have highlighted what appears to be poor environmental practice.

A 2012 study by researchers at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University found that heavy metal pollutants from mining processes were entering the river system in Bolnisi.

"Mining is the biggest industry in our country and it's also the biggest pollutant," says Kakha Bakhtadze from the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network.

"The problem with Bolnisi region is that it's one of the main suppliers of agricultural produce to the capital Tbilisi. There are lots of farms here and they use water from heavily polluted local rivers to irrigate their crops."


But, RMG director Soso Tsabadze admits, dealing with environmental issues is not a priority. He says the company has already encountered losses due to delays in production over Sakdrisi.

And so, the work is under way. Mud tracks have already been formed in the ground by trucks and digging equipment passing back and forth.

To see the historic site destroyed will be a loss for the scientific community, says Prof Thomas Stoellner. He believes the oldest stages of mining have yet to be discovered: "In Western Europe we solve such problems by doing commercial rescue archaeology - excavate everything, study the details and then, okay, if there is a decision of the government, exploit the field."

The government may have already made its decision but protesters have vowed to stay on. They are hoping an independent panel of experts will be invited to judge whether this ancient mine is worth more than the gold that lies within it. 

Gold rush hits Georgian mountains Watch 22 NOVEMBER 2010, EUROPE

VIDEO: Campaign to save ancient gold mine in Georgia - Sakdrisi

Civil society activists in Georgia are campaigning to save what international archaeologists believe could be the world's oldest gold mine.

Scientists say it dates back nearly 5,400 years. But the Georgian government has recently allowed commercial mining to start there, saying the site has no historical value.

Rayhan Demytrie spoke to Dr Thomas Stoellner, of the Archeologist University of Bohum, Soso Tsabadze from RMG Gold, and activist Marine Mizandari.

A TIMELY EXHIBITION: Legacy at Side Gallery - Russia, Ukraine, Georgia & South Caucasus. Curated by George Georgiou

Legacy at Side Gallery, curated by George Georgiou, celebrates some of the best documentary photography coming out of this torn and fertile ground.

The second of Side Gallery’s Eurovisions exhibitions, linked to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Legacy looks at the new East-West borderlands of the former Soviet Union republics. Struggles for independence and identity take place against the intensifying backdrop of a geo-political battle between Russia and European Union. — mit Mila Teshaieva, Oksana Yushko, Kerry Side-Gallery, Justyna Mielnikiewicz, Rafal Milach, Maria Morina, Donald Weber, Olga Kravets und Lucia Ganieva hier: Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


( LEGACY: Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, & The Caucasus

George Georgiou, Lucia Ganieva, Mila Teshaieva, Rafal Milach, Justyna Mielnikiewicz, Donald Weber, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina, Oksana Yushko, Alexander Chekmenev

Saturday 17 May - Sunday 20 July

The second of Side Gallery’s Eurovisions exhibitions, linked to the 25th anniversary of the coming down of the Berlin Wall, Legacy looks at the new East-West borderlands of the former Soviet Union republics. Struggles for independence and identity take place against the intensifying backdrop of a geo-political battle between Russia and European Union. Through a series of imaginative landscapes the exhibition explores shared histories, isolation and engagement, tradition and the desire for modernity.

Curated by George Georgiou, who brings his own work, IN THE SHADOW OF THE BEAR, it celebrates some of the best documentary photography coming out of this torn and fertile ground.

In Udmurtia, in the heart of the Russian landmass, Lucia Ganieva explores DREAMING WALLS, the exotic photolandscapes opening up from domestic interiors that are a recurring motif throughout the region. From her Caspian Sea project, PROMISING WATERS, Mila Teshaieva shows her work on Azerbaijan, its vast oil and gas reserves shape shaping the senses of both state power and individual insecurity.

In BLACK SEA CONCRETE, Rafal Milach explores Ukraine and Crimea: ‘Once the whole Soviet Union took its holidays in the resorts of the Black Sea. Soviet vacationers left behind Soviet architecture, mentality and sentiment.’ Fellow Polish member of the international collective Sputnik Photos, Justyna Mielnikiewicz has lived in Georgia for 12 years – WOMAN WITH A MONKEY is her tribute to an ‘unpredictable, timeless, Fellini-esque country, both cruel and hilarious.’

Donald Weber’s INTERROGATIONS opens up on the policemen, working girls, thugs, dissidents and hustlers in Ukranian police stations, their disturbing portraits expanding or sense of what it means to be a bit part in the dark opera of encounters with power. In GROZNY: NINE CITIES, members of the Russian photography collective Verso Images, Olga Kravets, Maria Morina and Oksana Yushko have created a multimedia photo novel exploring the different aspects of the Chechnyan city reduced to rubble in two wars.

Legacy was planned in 2013, before the events in Ukraine, which continue to unfold. The portraits in Ukranian photographer Alexander Chekmenev’s WARRIORS are from the barricades of Euromaidan in Kiev and were taken during the February revolution.

In-Print Photobook Video #37: Promising Waters by Mila Teshaieva (

( Melanie McWhorter shares with us Promising Waters by Mila Teshaieva published by photolucida and Kehrer Verlag. Purchase the book from photo-eye Bookstore here:

Promising Waters.
Photographs by Mila Teshaieva.
Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, 2013. 120 pp., 52 color illustrations, 9½x8½".

Publisher's Description
»Everything is great on the Caspian Sea: the expectations for future oil and gas revenues, ambitious development projects, promises and hopes. Everything is uncertain on the Caspian Sea: the fate of the environment and the direction of its people; even the status of these promising waters is as yet undefined…« Christoph Moeskes

For over four years, photographer Mila Teshaieva has documented the transformation of the three former Soviet republics on the shores of the Caspian Sea: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The battle for control of the region’s vast oil and gas reserves and the search for a national identity have led to far-reaching changes for the population, the environment and general social values. Teshaieva’s images reveal an atmosphere of insecurity, where people pin their hopes and expectations on a transformation whose direction remains uncertain. The photos leave the viewer with unanswered questions as to the relationship between the state and private identity, the ties between past, present and future, and how to pinpoint the boundary between a region’s rise or fall.

Mila Teshaieva (b. 1974 in Ukraine) lives today in Berlin. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards – including the Prix de la Photographie Paris, the Humanistic Prize of Phodar Biennal, the NPPA Best of Photojournalism and the PDN Photo Annual 2013 – and has been exhibited at galleries and festivals across Europe. Teshaieva is the winner of Photolucida’s Critical Mass Book Award 2012, which made the publication of this photo book possible.

View the video presentation by Melanie McWhorter on photo-eye Blog

In-Print Photobook Video #37: Promising Waters by Mila Teshaieva from photo-eye on Vimeo.

Book Review: Promising Waters []

VIDEO: In the Picture: The Sochi Project with Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen (

( Photographer Rob Hornstra and writer/filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen have been working together since 2009 to tell the story of Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Together their images and text reveals a telling portrait of this complex region.

In a talk chaired by BBC Radio Current Affairs presenter Lucy Ash, Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen will present images from The Sochi Project and speak about the wider Caucasus region and its contrast with the glamour of the Olympic Games. They will also be discussing their approach to self-publishing.

Both based in the Netherlands, they have returned repeatedly to this region as committed practitioners of "slow journalism". Over four years, they have established a solid foundation of research on, and engagement with, this small yet incredibly complicated corner of the world, documenting changes as it finds itself in the glare of international media.

The Sochi Project is a dynamic mix of documentary photography, film and reportage about a world in flux; a world full of different realities within a small but extraordinary geographic area.

Friday, May 30, 2014

RADIO: Stephan Wackwitz, "Die vergessene Mitte der Welt" (

( Stephan Wackwitz ist ein weitgereister Intellektueller. Derzeit leitet er das Goethe-Institut in Tiflis - und als Autor beobachtet er seine Umgebung sehr genau. Sein neues Buch berichtet von Reiseeindrücken in Tiflis, Baku und Eriwan.

Wackwitz' Buch versammelt Stücke, die zwischen September 2011 und Juni 2013 in Georgien entstanden sind und ist aus bewusst subjektiver Perspektive geschrieben. Stephan Wackwitz setzt auf Beschreibungen, schildert Blicke und Erlebnisse, ist nicht so sehr auf Pointen oder Anekdoten aus, sondern eher auf atmosphärische Dichte. Und immer wieder stellt er Bezüge zu seinem eigenen, in der westlichen Kultur und Theorie verankerten intellektuellen Universum her.

Die Zukunft der Vergangenheit

Die Silhouette einer Frau, die eine Straße heruntergeht, sieht für Wackwitz aus "wie eine Tuschezeichnung von Saul Steinberg", im Mtatsminda-Park von Tiflis mit seinem Riesenrad, seinen Karussells und Geisterbahnen erinnert ihn die Koexistenz des Absurden mit dem Poetischen an Fellini-Filme, die Bemalungen eines Betontrogs für Blumen aus der Sowjetzeit lassen ihn an Sigmar Polkes Gemälde "Moderne Kunst" von 1968 denken. Solche Verweise illustrieren auch das sperrige Zeitverhältnis, das den Besucher aus dem Westen im postsowjetischen Georgien erwartet: Vieles, was ihm hier begegnet, stammt aus einer anderen Ära und ist doch, wie es ist, weil die Gegenwart ist, wie sie ist.

Für diese Erfahrung findet Stephan Wackwitz eine Formulierung bei Walter Benjamin. Der schreibt in seinen Erinnerungen "Berliner Kindheit um Neunzehnhundert" von besonderen Orten, an denen es scheine, "als sei alles, was eigentlich uns bevorsteht, ein Vergangenes". "Prophetische Winkel" nennt Benjamin solche Orte, und Stephan Wackwitz trifft auf sie auch im Mitteleuropa von heute: Bauten, Stadtsituationen, Szenen, die zugleich Erinnerungen und Utopien verkörpern. Und die von einer Zukunft zeugen, die längst vergangen ist - oder nie Wirklichkeit wurde. Wackwitz hat in sein Buch Fotografien von Bushaltestellen eingefügt, deren futuristische oder anarchische Architektur und Ausstattung, inzwischen dem Verfall überlassen, an einen speziellen Gestaltungswillen von gestern für mögliche bessere Zeiten erinnern.

Das Georgien-Gefühl

Die Verbindung des Europäischen mit dem Orientalischen, das ihm in Tiflis begegnet, zieht Wackwitz an, er erkundet Georgien mit einem sehnsuchtsvoll-melancholisches Gefühl. Der Autor beschreibt es, ist aber reflektiert genug, ihm auch zu misstrauen. "Die kämpfende Modernisierung ist ästhetisch, politisch, moralisch interessanter als die siegreiche Moderne", weiß Wackwitz, gegenüber die Politisierung eines solchen Gefühls, wie sie etwa Peter Handke in den 90er-Jahren in Bezug auf Jugoslawien unternommen hat, ist er aber durchaus skeptisch. Wackwitz beschreibt Georgien als ein Land im Umbruch, dessen Ziel Demokratie und Moderne heißt und der in zwei Jahren einen Wandel mit sich bringt, wie er im Westen nicht denkbar ist: Das Stadtbild der Hauptstadt hat sich radikal verändert, Politiker, die 2011 fast allmächtig schienen, sitzen 2013 in Untersuchungshaft.

"Wir Bürger der reichen und freien Gesellschaften diesseits und jenseits des Atlantiks vergessen manchmal, dass Demokratie ein Experiment und der Ausgang von Experimenten offen ist. Der postsowjetische Transformationsprozess im Südkaukasus kann uns daran erinnern." (Stephan Wackwitz)

Die Gegenwart der Geschichte

Um Transformationsprozesse zu verstehen, muss man die Geschichte kennen. Sie ist auch im Buch von Stephan Wackwitz präsent. Er berichtet von der in den 20er-Jahren erbauten sowjetischen Modellstadt Eriwan, vom Schicksal historischer Bauten wie der Bagrati-Marienkathedrale im georgischen Kutaissi, für die eine brachiale Restaurierung des hochmittelalterlichen Baus mit Betonkuppel, Panoramafenster und Personenaufzug geplant wurde. Wackwitz schreibt über eine Gesellschaft, die um ein neues Selbstverständnis ringt, über Demonstrationen für die Rechte von Homosexuellen und gewalttätigen Gegendemonstrationen überzeugter Orthodoxer, die sich auf alte Werte berufen. Als Zugereister, der für längere Zeit in Georgien arbeitet, ist der Autor nah genug dran, um solche Entwicklungen genau beobachten zu können. Und zugleich hat er ausreichend Distanz, sie zu den eigenen, den westlichen Erfahrungen mit dem komplizierten Projekt der Modernisierung ins Verhältnis zu setzen.

Stephan Wackwitz, geboren 1952 in Stuttgart, leitet heute nach Stationen in Neu Delhi, Tokio, Krakau, Bratislava und New York das Goethe-Institut in Tiflis. Er hat Romane, autobiografische Bücher und Reiseberichte geschrieben. Für den Diwan hat Martina Boette-Sonner mit Wackwitz über sein Buch "Die vergessene Mitte der Welt" gesprochen, zu hören ist das Interview in der Sendung am Samstag, 24. Mai 2014 ab 14.05 Uhr auf Bayern 2 (Wiederholung 21.05 Uhr).


( Elizabeth Cullen Dunn and Martin Demant Frederiksen, Special Section Guest Editors
Elizabeth Cullen Dunn and Martin Demant Frederiksen 241

Void Pasts and Marginal Presents: On Nostalgia and Obsolete Futures in the Republic of Georgia
Katrine Bendtsen Gotfredsen 246

Once Upon a Time, There Was Sex in Georgia
Paul Manning 265

Humanitarianism, Displacement, and the Politics of Nothing in Postwar Georgia
Elizabeth Cullen Dunn 287

The Would-Be State: Reforms, NGOs, and Absent Presents in Postrevolutionary Georgia
Martin Demant Frederiksen 307


Christian Hajjis-the Other Orthodox Pilgrims to Jerusalem
Valentina Izmirlieva 322

Reconstructing the Meaning of Being “Montenegrin”
Jelena Džankić 307


David Frick, Kith, Kin, and Neighbors: Communities and Confessions in Seventeenth-Century Wilno (Theodore R. Weeks) 372

Keith Brown, Loyal unto Death: Trust and Terror in Revolutionary Macedonia (Isa Blumi) 375

Derek Sayer, Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History (Thomas Ort) 378

Omer Bartov and Eric D. Weitz, eds., Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands (Mark von Hagen) 381

Katherine Lebow, Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949-56 (Anthony Kemp-Welch) 384

Diane P. Koenker, Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream (Polly Jones) 387


Pauline Fairclough, ed., Twentieth-Century Music and Politics: Essays in Memory of Neil Edmunds (Linda Edmondson) 391

Albert Kaganovitch, The Long Life and Swift Death of Jewish Rechitsa: A Community in Belarus, 1526-2000 (Eugene M. Avrutin) 392

Walter Richmond, The Circassian Genocide (Sufian Zhemukhov) 393

Benjamin C. Fortna, Stefanos Katsikas, Dimitris Kamouzis, and Paraskevas Konortas, eds., State-Nationalisms in the Ottoman Empire, Greece and Turkey: Orthodox and Muslims, 1830-1945 (Evguenia Davidova) 395

Olga Litvak, Haskalah: The Romantic Movement in Judaism (Israel Bartal) 396

Marcin Wodziński, Hasidism and Politics: The Kingdom of Poland, 1815-1864 (Gershon Bacon) 398

Joshua M. Karlip, The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe (Barry Trachtenberg) 399

Karen Auerbach, The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust (Antony Polonsky) 401

Marinia Cattaruzza, Stefan Dyroff, and Dieter Langewiesche, eds., Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War: Goals, Expectations, Practices (Nancy M. Wingfield) 402

James Mace Ward, Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia (Melissa Feinberg) 404

Olaf Leiße, Martin Roth, and Christian Gesellmann, eds., Die Republik Kosovo-Der jüngste Staat Europas: Eine politische Bestandsaufnahme seit der Unabhängigkeitserklärung (Sabrina P. Ramet) 405

Anna Moskal, Im Spannungsfeld von Region und Nation: Die Polonisierung der Stadt Posen nach 1918 und 1945 (Winson Chu) 406

Cathleen M. Guistino, Catherine J. Plum, and Alexander Vari, eds., Socialist Escapes: Breaking Away from Ideology and Everyday Routine in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989 (Scott Moranda) 408

Charles King, Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams (Rebecca Stanton) 409

Alex Drace-Francis, The Traditions of Invention: Romanian Ethnic and Social Stereotypes in Historical Context   (Keith Hitchins) 411

Mark Thompson, Birth Certificate: The Story of Danilo Kiš (David A. Norris) 412

Catherine Portuges and Peter Hames, eds., Cinemas in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 (Gordana P. Crnković) 413

Ewa Stańczyk, Contact Zone Identities in the Poetry of Jerzy Harasymowicz: A Postcolonial Analysis (Charles S. Kraszewski) 415

Katka Reszke, Return of the Jew: Identity Narratives of the Third Post-Holocaust Generations of Jews in Poland (Genevieve Zubrzycki) 417

Jesse Paul Lehrke, The Transition to National Armies in the Former Soviet Republics, 1988-2005 (Dmitry Gorenburg) 418

Richard Connolly, The Economic Sources of Social Order Development in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe (Béla Greskovits) 419

János Mátyás Kovács and Violetta Zentai, eds., Capitalism from Outside? Economic Cultures in Eastern Europe after 1989 (Ivan T. Berend) 421

Marlene Laruelle and Sebastien Peyrouse, Globalizing Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Challenges of Economic Development (Emilian Kavalski) 422

N. N. Pokrovskii and G. D. Lenkhoff [Gail D. Lenhoff], eds., Stepennaia kniga tsarskogo rodosloviia po drevneishim spiskam: Teksty i kommentarii, 3 vols. Vol. 3, Commentary, G. D. Lenkhoff (David K. Prestel) 424

Alanna E. Cooper, Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism (Albert Kaganovitch) 425

Anna Kuxhausen, From the Womb to the Body Politic: Raising the Nation in Enlightenment Russia (Katherine Pickering Antonova) 426

A. S. Tumanova, ed., Samoorganizatsiia rossiiskoi obshchestvennosti v poslednei treti XVIII-nachale XX v. (Lynn M. Sargeant) 428

Ol’ga Malinova-Tziafeta, Iz goroda na dachu: Sotsiokul’turnye faktory osvoeniia dachnogo prostranstva vokrug Peterburga (1860-1914) (Natalia Baschmakoff) 429

Catherine Wanner, ed., State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine (Roy R. Robson) 431

Annie Epelboin and Assia Kovriguina, La littérature des ravins: Écrire sur la Shoah en URSS (Leona Toker) 433

Gary Rosenshield, Challenging the Bard: Dostoevsky and Pushkin, a Study of Literary Relationship (Ian Helfant) 434

Boris Dralyuk, Western Crime Fiction Goes East: The Russian Pinkerton Craze 1907-1934 (Elena Baraban) 435

Greta N. Slobin, Russians Abroad: Literary and Cultural Politics of Diaspora (1919-1939), ed. Katerina Clark, Nancy Condee, Dan Slobin, and Mark Slobin (Adrian Wanner) 436

Lidiia Ginzburg, Prokhodiashchie kharaktery: Proza voennykh let; Zapiski blokadnogo cheloveka, ed. Emily Van Buskirk and Andrei Zorin; Emily Van Buskirk and Andrei Zorin, eds., Lydia Ginzburg’s Alternative Literary Identities: A Collection of Articles and New Translations (Evgenii Bershtein) 438

Simon Morrison, Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev (Neil Minturn) 440

Stephen M. Norris, Blockbuster History in the New Russia: Movies, Memory, and Patriotism (Anna Lawton) 442

Carol Apollonio and Angela Brintlinger, eds., Chekhov for the 21st Century (Andrew R. Durkin) 443

Brian Donahoe and Joachim Otto Habeck, eds., Reconstructing the House of Culture: Community, Self, and the Makings of Culture in Russia and Beyond (Melissa L. Caldwell) 445

Denis Kozlov, The Readers of Novyi Mir: Coming to Terms with the Stalinist Past (Donald J. Raleigh) 446


PORTRAITS: Tiflis - Leben in einer neuen Zeit. Von Lisa Fuhr (

( Tbilisi – Life in a New Era – 34 Portraits

Interviews in photographs and text conducted in Tiflis with 34 women and men from various social strata, age groups, ethnic and religious communities. Because the subjects are inter-generational some still bear the mark of the Soviet era while others can hardly remember that time. Prospects for many have radically changed, when looking back, often for the better. In some cases people have had to abandon the future they had envisioned completely and reinvent their lives entirely. The portraits presented here show individuals in their immediate surroundings at work and at home. 

in german >>>

FERNSEHEN: Tbilissi - Georgiens multikulturelle Hauptstadt findet zu sich selbst - Sonntag, 01. Juni um 16:50 Uhr (

( Tbilissi - Georgiens multikulturelle Hauptstadt findet zu sich selbst. Sie ist kreativ, geistreich und schön: die sich entlang der Kura in Terrassen an die weinbelaubten Hänge schmiegende 1,4-Millionen-Metropole.

Sie ist kreativ, geistreich, schön: die sich entlang der Kura in Terrassen an die weinbelaubten Hänge schmiegende 1,4 Millionen-Metropole Tbilissi, gegründet 485 durch König Wachtang I. Gorgassali. Die heutige Hauptstadt des Kaukasusstaates Georgien, der sich gerne als „Balkon Europas“ versteht und dessen Regierung derzeit die Annäherung an Europa betreibt, hat eine bewegte Geschichte. Einst an der Kreuzung der Karawanenstraßen vom Schwarzen Meer nach Persien, Indien und China gelegen, wurde Tbilissi oft von fremden Herrschern regiert, war oströmische Provinz, wurde im 7.Jht.arabisch, dann persisch, byzantinisch, seldschukisch und türkisch. 1801 annektierte der russische Zar die Stadt und machte sie zur Verwaltungszentrale für den Kaukasus, 1918 wurde Georgien Teil der Sowjetunion. Nach der Unabhängigkeit 1991 und dem Militärputsch gegen Swiad Gamsachurdia geriet das Land an den Rand des Bürgerkriegs, versank in Korruption, Kriminalität und Hoffnungslosigkeit, bis 2003 die Rosenrevolution eine reformerische Wende in Georgien brachte.

Tbilissi ist eine charmante Stadt, mit ihrer kopfsteinbepflasterten Altstadt, durch die einst die Seidenstraße führte, mit den geschnitzten Holzbalkonen und Vestibülen, ihrem 700 Jahre alten Bäderviertel, der mittelalterlichen Burgfestung, den Prachtbauten des 19.Jhts. mit dem Rustaveli- Boulevard als Flaniermeile sowie einer Vielzahl alter Gotteshäuser. Die meisten Intellektuellen und Künstler verließen in den 1990-er Jahren ihre Heimatstadt Tbilissi, wie die Eltern der heute international renommierten Geigenvirtuosin Lisa Batiashvili. Regelmäßig besucht sie ihre Familie und engagiert sich in der Musikförderung. Vor einigen Jahren zurückgekehrt nach Tbilissi ist die Filmemacherin und Drehbuchautorin Nana Ekvtimishvili, die mit ihrem deutschen Mann Simon Groß nicht nur den 0scar-nominierten Film „Die langen hellen Tage“ über die Entführung und Zwangsverheiratung eines Mädchens im Georgien der 1990-er Jahre gedreht hat, sondern auch gemeinsam mit ihm die erste Eisdiele in Tbilissi betreibt.

Tbilissi, was übersetzt „warme Quelle“ heißt, ist eine Stadt des Wandels, deren rasante Veränderung sich nicht nur im Straßenbild, sondern auch in einer quirligen Kulturszene manifestiert, in der sowohl traditionelle Folklore und die Wiederentdeckung des Jahrhunderte alten Liedguts (UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe) angesagt ist, wie hippe Experimente, moderne Kunst und zeitgenössisches Design. Da gibt es etwa das „Open Window-Projekt“ zur Förderung der neuen visuellen Kultur, das die Galeristin Irena Popiashvili leitet und Künstlern in Fenstern von leerstehenden Gebäuden Ausstellungsflächen bietet. Dokumentiert hat den Wandel auch der Fotograf Guram Tsibakhashvili. Sein besonderes Interesse gilt den Friedhöfen der Stadt, die Zeugnis ablegen von ihrer Geschichte, den unterschiedlichen Ethnien und den Gewohnheiten der Tbilisser im Wandel der Zeit.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

GEORGIEN: Das Goldbergwerk von Sakdrisi in Georgien in Gefahr (

( Im Sommer 2003 bewilligte die Volkswagen-Stiftung dem Deutschen Bergbau-Museum Bochum eine Förderung des Projekts „Auf- und Ausbau interdisziplinärer Konzepte in Forschung und Lehre im Bereich der Montanarchäologie und Archäometallurgie in Georgien“, das gemeinsam mit dem Georgischen Nationalmuseum, Otar Lordkipanidze Zentrum für Archäologie durchgeführt wurde. Bereits 2004 entdeckten die georgischen und deutschen Forscher bei einer Lehrausgrabung in Georgien ein frühbronzezeitliches Goldbergwerk bei Sakdrisi aus der Zeit von 3.000 vor Christus. Es ist ein sensationeller Befund, da es sich um das älteste bekannte Goldbergwerk handelt. Die archäologischen Arbeiten wurden an der Oberfläche als auch unter Tage durchgeführt, Tausende Funde geborgen, Materialien in Bochum mit dem Elektronenmikroskop auf Struktur und Zusammensetzung analysiert und dabei ein hoher Goldgehalt nachgewiesen. Die Verwendung von Steinschlägeln legt ein hohes Alter dar, was durch 5000 Jahre Holzkohlefunde bestätigt wurde. Aufgrund seiner Bedeutung wurde Sakdrisi 2006 in die Liste von Denkmälern des georgischen Kulturerbes eingetragen. Nach einer Verordnung des georgischen Präsidenten wurde ihm ein Statut als nationales Denkmal verliehen.

Unweit der Fundstelle wird seit 1975 durch die JSC RMG Copper kommerzieller Abbau von Metallen betrieben. Diese soll auf das prähistorische Goldbergwerk von Sakdrisi ausgedehnt werden. Die Minengesellschaft beauftragte den „Klub Tazari“, unter Einbindung georgischer Archäologen, mit einer Analyse und Stellungnahme zu den wissenschaftlichen Ergebnissen. Diese unbegründeten Zweifel an dem deutsch-georgischen Forschungsprojekt wurden dem georgischen Kulturministerium übergeben, um den Denkmalstatus des Bergwerks von Sakdrisi aufzuheben und das Areal zur kommerziellen Ausbeutung freizugeben. Der DVA bezieht zu der Gefährdung eines Denkmals von internationalem Rang in Briefen an die verantwortlichen georgischen Ministerien Position.

Weiterführender Link:

Position to Sakdrisi Gold Mining Complex

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Georgian Singer: Sophie Villy - Dress (2014) Album Sampler

A selection from the second album "Dress" by Sophie Villy.
Out on May 27, 2014. Available from itunes and spotify.

3.I Told You
5.They Worry
6.Man In The Mist
7.Quiet Again
8.Drift Around
10.His Grandma
11.Need To Share

Music and Lyrics by Sophie Villy.

Sophie Villy - Vocal, Guitar, Piano, Organ
Dima Zinchenko - Drums, Percussion, Organ
Levan Mikaberidze - Bass
Stas Kononov - Guitar
Zura Dzagnidze - Guitar
Elene Jimshitashvili - Cello
Strings - Just Quartet (GE)
George Gabrielashvili - Trumpet

Recorded and mixed by George Gvarjaladze "Gvaji" at Georgian Film Studios in Tbilisi.
Mastered by Ron Boustead @ Resolutionmastering, Los Angeles, CA.
Produced by Sophie Villy and Gvaji.
Artwork photo by Sergey Sarakhanov.
Design by Vaniko Katamashvili.

More Info on release date.

All Rights Reserved.
2014 Sophie Villy


NEW ALBUM "DRESS" COMING OUT IN MAY 2014!!! Single "Position" now in heavy rotation on KCRW (US) and also featured on BBC2.

In her 23 Sophie Villy is well known for her unique performing style. Minimalistic arrangements, vintage guitar's distinctive twang and soulful timbre of voice open up another deep world, full of grace and intelligence, nurtured in the bohemian quarters of Georgian culture. Artists were common visitors to Sophie's childhood home in Tbilisi, they undoubtedly left their mark. We hear, as a result, both the voices of modern neighbors and the echoes of twelfth-century poet Shota Rustaveli. Grounded in that multifaceted heritage, Sophie's debut album "Mother Fish" now takes a wide range of private stories to the outside world. The singer and her catalog are one and the same: wholly sincere and full of incisive observations.. You can feel a kind of 'eastern' power, even spirituality, within her work. At times it seems to adopt the illusionary forms of mirage: if you can see or hear Sophie - even once - you'll be unable to forget her.
Sophie Villy's new single "Position" is one of her most acclaimed songs, released after her first US tour (2012). "Position" is louder than any demonstrations and revolutionary speech.

Sophie whispers to all the people to be strong and wiser, to stay away from all the dirty political games, stay free inside of your heart. Sophie Villy is an author of soundtracks for French, Georgian, American and Ukrainian films.
"Her voice is transcending; it sounds worldly and magically. She has a unique, yet common spirit." Richard Galliano

Sunday, May 04, 2014

ARTE: Gérard Depardieu: Lieben, essen, vögeln - im Kaukasus. Von Katja Nicodemus (

( Eine Arte-Dokumentation schickt den Schauspieler Gérard Depardieu auf den Spuren von Alexandre Dumas in den Kaukasus. 

"Schöner Text. Ich glaub das wird eine Katastrophefilm fürs Gemüt oder ein unbeabsichtigtes Meisterstück. Aber was sich da wieder unseren kulturellen Fernseheliten ausgedacht haben? Sie kungeln auch mit jedem ... Der Obelix soll uns den Braten vor die Füße werfen. Es geht wohl nur um die Quote, da sicher am Ende des Films einfach nichts ... aber auch gar nichts relevantes herauskommt!!!

Im Zeitartikel wird der wohl treffliche Satz formuliert: "Man könnte sagen, dass hier ein Promi-Konzept zu etwas Tragikomischem implodiert" - worauf mir einfiel, dass das wohl beinahe schon eine universelle Aussage ist ... ich bin gespannt, wie das abgeht ... heute abend. Ich vermute, da es äußerst selten in unseren spröden Zeiten vorkommt, sich selbstironisch in Szene zu setzen und sich dabei auch selbst nicht zu ernst zu nehmen. Ich vermute, dass das ganze mehr als peinlich wird. Depardieu hat sich ja ernsthaft in merkwürdige Situationen begeben. Ich sage nur Busenfreundschaften mit den richtigen Kerlen aus einer anderen Welt, weil er sich zu Hause gelangweilt hat. Und das meint er auch so ... Wenn das heute abend nicht funzt, dann muss ich schon mal die Redaktion in Frage stellen, die das veranlasst hat. Dann ist das eine ganz billige Nummer, und ich muss teils den Spartenkanal in Frage stellen oder fragen, wer hat denn da schon wieder seine Hände im Spiel gehabt hat ... und sein Gehirn nicht eingeschaltet." (Ralph Hälbig)

Der Zeitartikel hier >>>

Reise durch den Kaukasus. Gérard Depardieu auf den Spuren von Alexandre Dumas 

Sonntag, 04. Mai um 21:55 Uhr (54 Min.)   


Im Buch "Gefährliche Reise durch den wilden Kaukasus" hielt Alexandre Dumas seine persönlichen Reiseabenteuer des Jahres 1858 fest. Seine Intuition, Leidenschaft und seine Unvernunft inspirierten Gérard Depardieu rund 150 Jahre später, einen Teil der Reise auf Dumas‘ Spuren nachzuerleben. Ähnlich wie sein Vorgänger wird er von einem Zeichner begleitet ...

In einer Suite des Pariser "Hôtel des Trois Empereurs" entschließt sich Alexandre Dumas 1858 aus einer plötzlichen Anwandlung heraus, zusammen mit dem Maler Jean-Pierre Moynet in den Kaukasus zu reisen. Festgehalten haben sie dieses Abenteuer im Buch "Gefährliche Reise durch den wilden Kaukasus (1858-59)“. Der französische Schauspieler Gérard Depardieu ist sowohl ein begeisterter Leser von Dumas als auch ein Kenner und Liebhaber des Kaukasus. Es entstand die Idee, dem Text zu folgen und eine Reise auf den Spuren des berühmten Autors zu unternehmen - begleitet wurde er dabei vom Zeichner Mathieu Sapin. 

Im Zwiegespräch zwischen den beiden erfährt der Zuschauer mehr über die Person und den Künstler Gérard Depardieu, dessen Stimme zuweilen eins wird mit der des Autors. Während der Reise liest der Schauspieler immer wieder aus Dumas‘ Originaltexten. Die grandiosen Landschaftsbilder und die Entdeckung des heutigen Kaukasus schlagen Brücken zu den damaligen Erlebnissen und geben dem vor rund 150 Jahren verfassten Reisebericht eine neue, aktuelle Dimension. 

Unter anderem besuchen Depardieu und Sapin die aserbaidschanische Hauptstadt Baku. Dort gesellt sich der lokale Journalist und Historiker Fuad Akhundov zu ihnen. Natürlich hat sich die Gegend seit Dumas‘ Besuch 1858 stark verändert. Baku ist eine hochmoderne Großstadt geworden – eingebettet in die aserbaidschanische Tradition mit all ihren Widersprüchen. 

Gérard Depardieu führt auf eine abwechslungsreiche und humorvolle Exkursion in eine wenig bekannte Region. Es geht um deren Geschichte, die Menschen und Kulturen, aber auch um Dumas und Depardieu, die beide - im Leben wie in der Kunst - ständig auf der Suche geblieben sind.

TV-Kritik: "Reise durch den Kaukasus" - Abenteuer und Unvernunft, das gefällt ihm []

PHOTOGRAPHY: Guram Tikanadze Exhibition - TBC Art Gallery, Tbilisi

Guram Tikanadze, 1933-1963

The photographer and mountain-climber, G. Tikanadze tragically perished in 1963 while descending from Shkhara in Svaneti.

During the thirty years of his life he was managed do a lot. He made a success in his favourite trade. He took up photography from childhood, under the tutorship of the famous photographers Niko Sagaradze and Sergo Akhvlediani at the Pioneer's Palace. As a university student he became keen on mountain-climbing. In 1959 he started work as a photocorrespondent for the journal "Drosha", in 1962 he was appointed as a chairman of the Tbilisi photo-section of the association of Georgian Journalists. G. Tikanadze's creative work combined publicistic genre with poetic thinking. His pictures were published in Poland, Cheskoslovakia, Germany, he participated in international exhibitions.

Guram Tikanadze's early death deprived Georgian community of a talented photographer entering creative maturity, whose exquisite taste and skill were generally recognized.

“A fine fellow's name is a flare”(

“The flash light that Guram had presented to me is still giving out light reaching the other bank of the Mtkvari River… But the traces of his footsteps are no longer to be seen… Under dim light I am trying to find Guram's footprints but all in vain… A man's heart is definitely not like sand brought by the wind. It is more like a vessel storing inside everything until it gets carried away by floods ….. Even now when I recall my young friend, I bend my steps towards the Mtkvari and watch its flowing waves excitedly… Here is my “Saguramo”, and whenever I notice a deer on a sandy riverbank leaving its track on the sand, memories of Guram always come to my mind.”

From the Deer's Trace by Levan Gotua

This year in September, Guram Tikanadze would have turned seventy… There are people who are always in haste. They always hurry but, most importantly, they manage to do everything in a relatively short time. It is strange but frequently this rapidity carries a seal of fatality, as if destiny hastens them to do as much as possible in their youth. And it was under such an accelerated pace that Guram lived…

Nature endowed this young man, distinguished by his infinite energy, versatile talents, crystal honesty and love for his homeland, with an impressive appearance: “His figure resembled a specimen of art - a powerful physique, with pure blue eyes on an elongated face, an antique nose and soft skin, somewhat unexpected on the face of such a manly fellow,” writes Sargis Tsaishvili. “The laughter bursting out from his heart would immediately make you feel his moral purity. He had an infinite faith in men and he always created an atmosphere of warmth and cordiality around him. Perhaps that is why upon first acquaintance he immediately won confidence and sympathy.”

In his student years he became interested in boxing and mountaineering and in 1952 he passed the first-class sport norms. In 1954 he became an instructor of mountaineering and tackled several difficult ascents on the Caucasus and Pamirs. Mountains became an integral part of his life, the subject of his love and his destiny. In an essay “Defeated Giants” Guram Tikanadze writes: “People often ask us, mountaineers, why we are so keen about mountains. We think such a question is out of place and often leave it unaddressed. Now, for the sake of explanation I shall resort to certain experiences. We don't talk with the mountains and don't communicate our love in words. We know very well that here danger is waiting for us under every stone and in every snowflake. Overhanging clouds spread thunderstorms and snow over the mountain slopes and the burning sun alerts the mountain ranges with falling stones and a multitude of avalanches. There is constantly something new, there's always motion and cheerfulness. We find a common language more with mountains and ice than with lowlands and sea.”

They used to say that those who wanted to see strength, beauty and courage should have watched Guram Tikanadze in the mountains where, as distinct from others, he had to drag photo-cinema equipment (not many people know what each additional gram means for a mountaineer) and overcome additional complexities. He would leave the group behind or would follow an unbeaten track or at times would risk his life for the sake of a good shot. He never asked for a privilege.

He was in the seventh grade when he became interested in photography and published his first shot “Christmas fair in Tbilisi” in 1950 when he was still at school.

Later he debated whether he should follow the career of a geologist, go in for press photography, or become a cameraman. “I am amazed… I let everything go with the flow. I feel the stream will bring me to photo reporting…”

In Georgia the art of photography has deeply rooted traditions. Remarkable photographs of Alexandre Ermakov, Engel, Vittorio Sela, Alexandre Roininshvili and others depicting the recent past of Georgia, today represent an invaluable treasure, not only for the funds of the museums and archives where they are kept, but also for every Georgian.

In the fifties, however, when Guram Tikanadze took an interest in photography, this art form was in the background in our country. Guram was one of the first who broke away and introduced a sharp topic into the cadre. He turned the photography business into art, bringing it close to painting. Along with the recording of actual events, Guram Tikanadze's pictures have purely scientific, historical and ethnographic implications. This is an artistically depicted photo-chronicle of Georgia of the fifties and sixties, with its people. “It seemed as if he was looking at the world with three eyes but all three were focused on one thing. And this was his homeland and his people,” writes Kote Javakhishvili.

From the fifties onwards Guram Tikanadze regularly published his pictures in the republican, union and foreign press. He took part in photography contests and exhibitions held at various times. “You are a real poet. I am so sorry that I had no opportunity of knowing you earlier,” a Czech writer said after one of the exhibitions and perhaps that is why Georgian, German, Czech, Polish and Italian magazines and newspapers selected him as their reporter.

“But, your greatest and kindest gift was the skill and perception of friendship,” says Levan Gotua. “You were born for friendship and that is why being a single child you had a great many friends and brothers.” It was the gift of infinite love that he gave out so generously. His contemporaries note a rare skill of his: the ability easily to become a close friend of people, to take their joys or misfortunes close to his heart, sympathize and lend a helping hand whenever he was able to do so and support a good cause.

Very often people have amazing premonitions. We know several artists who have predicted their own death. Such is Guram's picture: “Falling from the Ailama Ridge”, as well as the last entry made by him in his notebook in 1961: “Jumber, Kukho and Iliko, It's something terrible! Mountaineering is impossible without sacrifice…”

He perished on August 27, 1963 when descending the mountain Shkhara…

At exhibitions, in the press and other publications we often come across Guram Tikanadze's pictures, which have become classics of photography. Today they are as relevant as they were 40 years ago.

It is a long time since unknown pictures from his album have been published…

This year on September 12 Guram Tikanadze would have turned seventy…