Glory to Ukraine: what made the first Culture Week Tbilisi memorable
Culture Week Tbilisi took place on November 3-7 in Tbilisi. Violett Fedorova, editor-in-chief of vogue.ua, shares her impressions of the event.
"Glory to Ukraine" are the words you hear and see everywhere in Tbilisi, from self-made murals to flags hung in the city and large billboards that are simply impossible not to notice. These words were constantly heard from the stage of Culture Week Tbilisi. Large-scale marathon designed further to strengthen the cultural bridges between Georgia and Ukraine and to remind that both countries are victims of russian imperialism today, and part of their territories are occupied. Sofia Tchkonia oversaw the organization of the event. Several years ago, a well-known person in the country, Sofia already managed to reveal all the diversity and potential of the Georgian fashion industry to the world. Her Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi became a must-visit point in the program of foreign fashion insiders. Today, she focuses on culture and reminds the whole world that the war in Ukraine is not over, and Ukrainian children continue to die every day
Tchkonia has always had in her heart a special place for Ukraine. Last year, she participated in Kyiv Art & Fashion Days project, demonstrating Ukrainian talents to an international audience. Then, in October 2021, she shared plans to prepare an event in May 2022. But so far, these plans were not destined to come true. Yet.
Due to new circumstances, the idea developed and transformed into Culture Week Tbilisi, and well-known Ukrainian art experts Serhiy Kerbitskyi and Yevhen Bereznytskyi were involved in its implementation. "The event aims to highlight today's painful reality, in which we are fighting against colonialism and imperialism," said the organizers. The culture was always ahead of social changes and acted on a large scale, despite the cannonade of war. It is even more relevant now, during the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine."
They created the entire program based on an organic combination of creative views of Ukrainian and Georgian artists. So, in the main exhibition hall, you can see the works of the Ukrainian artist Viktor Sydorenko about man's search for himself in a new reality and witness a performance by the Georgian art collective Fungus, which raises the issue of Russia's appropriation of the heritage of the Caucasian peoples.
At personal exhibitions, one could get acquainted with the reflection of artists known in their countries – Levan Songulashvili and Roman Mykhaylov. Both express their inner emotions on large-scale canvases. The first work with bright colors inspires the viewer to immerse himself in this colorful world in search of his answers, while the second boldly uses fire and asks archival and truly burning questions with his works. One of them: "What is the price of Ukrainian bread today?".
Various art programs and musical performances characterized Culture Week Tbilisi. "We have set ourselves a difficult task – to bring here not only people who are interested in modern art but a much wider audience," says Sofia Tchkonia. — The evening concert program helped to do just that. Besides, Georgia and Ukraine are melodious nations, and music is in our blood." You could ensure this on the first evening when Nino Katamadze and Katya Chilly appeared on the stage. You could see tears in the hall during the performance. It was difficult to contain emotions.
If you describe Culture Week Tbilisi in one word, it will be the soulfulness that was revealed in everything. In the long evening feasts, which demonstrated genuine Georgian hospitality, and in the reaction of the guests of the event and the residents of Tbilisi to what they saw. In the performance of their national pride, Beka Gogiashvili, a virtuoso pianist who does not often perform in her native country. And the exhibition of Ukrainian photographer Maryna Karpiy is dedicated to Ukrainian and Georgian children who suffered from the wars.
"Georgia understands very well what Ukrainians are going through today," adds Tchkonia. "Our countries have much in common, and joint victory is ahead." The audience generous ovation to the Ukrainian dancers who appeared in the finale of their performance with the flags of both countries confirming her words.
On the last evening of Culture Week Tbilisi, on the National Opera of Georgia stage, the ballet Radio & Juliet was performed – a modern interpretation of the eternal love story of Romeo and Juliet, set to the poignant vocals of Radiohead. There is nothing extra on the stage, pure emotions, complete dedication, and the same spirit in Ukraine and Georgia. Glory to Ukraine! Slava Ukraini!