From top literature awards to big rugby wins, here’s everything you need to know about Georgia’s breakthrough success stories this season.
Georgia’s national rugby team clinched the Rugby Europe championship after defeating their Spanish counterparts 49 to 15 at Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi on March 20. Akaki Tabutsadze, Otar Giorgadze and Giorgi Ckoidze scored five tries in the match, while Vasil Lobzhanidze was named MVP of the game.
The win came after the Georgian squad did not play its scheduled game against Russia due to sanctions and the full suspension of the Russian team by the world governing body, with the Georgian team instead being awarded four points.
And the rugby team’s championship win wasn’t the only major sporting event to happen in Georgia this season. In addition to Bakuriani’s hosting of several stages of the European Cup in February for giant slalom and parallel slalom in snowboarding, the slopes in Svaneti also received international attention. Between February 8 and 12, more than 120 athletes from 20 countries took part in the Freeride World Qualifier at Tetnuldi peak. Mountain Resorts of Georgia, the national body overseeing winter resorts, called the tournament a “unique opportunity”, adding that a successful hosting of the event would enable the country to hold the Freeride World Tour, a higher-level contest, in the future.
This growing interest in Georgia as a destination for high level winter sports competitions follows the announcement that Georgia will host the World Ski Championship next March in Bakuriani.
Culture & Art
The Lithuanian Mint announced in February that it would be releasing a brand-new coin designed by Georgian creatives Iva Janezashvili and Mamuka Mikeladze.
The design, which depicts an episode of a glorious struggle involving a heroic protagonist from Georgia’s iconic medieval poem The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, is the latest design in a series of coins minted with Georgian historical themes.
The face of the coin illustrates the scene with the addition of symbolic details, like the natural rock formation in the background that represents Georgia. The reverse side shows a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, a characteristic of coins minted by Lithuanian Mint due to their cooperation with the central bank of Niue Island, a subordinate of New Zealand. And those interested in adding this unique depiction of Georgian literature to their own collection better act fast; while the coin is available for purchase online, only 1000 have been minted.
Another exciting moment for Georgian art? The announcement by Paris-based Galerie Frank Elbaz that it is now hosting an exhibit that features three Georgian artists. The work of the women – Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia – will be featured in a display described as “meditative” and entitled The Wet Material.
In Berlin, works by young queer artists from South Caucasus are being displayed at The Institute for Endotic Research to explore experiences of the community throughout the tumultuous three decades since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The exhibition, entitled Post-Post: Queer Caucasus, was curated by Giorgi Rodionov (a Tbilisi-based artist and Untitled Gallery Tbilisi founder) and offers a look on both the challenges and artistic opportunities brought to the societies in question by the historical era.
Elsewhere in Europe, Georgian opera singer Anita Rachvelishvili is preparing to take the stage at Milan’s famed Teatro Alla Scala as Princess de Bouillon in the opera classic Adriana Lecouvreur.
Selected for David McVicar’s staging of the four-act co-production between five major opera houses (the Royal Opera House, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Wiener Staatsoper, Opera National de Paris and San Francisco Opera), Rachvelishvili will be in the roster of performers featuring other big names including Anna Netrebko, Freddie De Tommaso, and Alessandro Corbelli.
Georgian illustrators and children’s writers, along with a stand organized by the UNESCO program Tbilisi – World Book Capital, was hosted at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair from March 21-24 in Italy.
The Georgian program at the event included two Georgian children’s writers Mariam Tsiklauri and Vasil Guleuri from the Tbilisi-based Writers’ House of Georgia, who discussed their works and the importance of children’s literature along with a presentation of the Italian translation of Mariam Tsiklauri’s Unusual Sunday. Also featured at the fair was an exhibition of the Tbilisi Illustration Festival, where prints of around 40 works by 10 illustrators working in Georgia were exhibited.
In late February, it was announced that Georgian author Iva Pezuashvili’s novel A Garbage Chute had been included in the nominees of this year’s European Union Prize for Literature. The novel, which also won the 2020 Tsinandali Award for Fiction Literature, follows a family that has fled armed conflict in the South Caucasus’ Karabakh region.
On March 9 and 10, the Vinexpo America International Wine and Spirits Exhibition was held in New York. As the largest international presentation of Georgian wine since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 23 Georgian wine and spirits companies participated in the exhibition with the support of the National Wine Agency.
At the event, American sommelier, Judy Gildin, noted that when Americans hear the 8000-year history of Georgian wine, they want to taste it. “Everyone is familiar with French, Italian and American wines. Customers want to taste something new and different, something like you have never tasted before, they are ready for something new. This is exactly what Georgian wine is like; I think more and more people will get familiar with it in the near future.”
This positive reception comes on the back of increased efforts in recent years to target the United States as a new strategic market for Georgian wine and a record export number of more than 1 million bottles of Georgian wine in 2021.