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Interview|Nestan Nijaradze 

As part of the HARIBAN AWARD 2023 programme, we interviewed one of this year’s Juror Nestan Nijaradze, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Tbilisi Photo Festival and Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum.

First, let us ask you a personal question about yourself. Tell us about the first time you were introduced to photography and the event that led you to pursue a career in photography.

Nestan Nijaradze (NN):  I’m lucky – my love story with photography started in Paris.  After finishing my studies of the journalism in the Tbilisi State University, I moved to Paris in mid 1990s where I entered the faculty of Audio-Visual Studies at Université Paris 7. It’s in Paris that I’ve discovered the magic of photographic image and its strong influence on me. Paris is the capital of photography, the epicenter of contemporary photographic scene and thus the best place to develop the passion for photography. And that’s exactly what happened: I started learning a lot myself, visiting exhibitions, meeting photographers, discover photo institutions and galleries, photo books and… of course photographing. But I was again lucky – very quickly, I’ve realized that I should channel my passion for photography in something else and not in being photographer myself. I think it is one of the cleverest things I have ever done in my life: I stopped imagining myself as a photographer and I started exploring the curatorial practices. And I never regretted it. 

You are the Co-Founder and current Artistic Director of the Tbilisi Photo Festival and the Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum. How did you establish this institute and how do you expect it to impact the surrounding & worldwide community?

NN:  Tbilisi Photo Festival (TPF) is the first international photography festival that has been established in Georgia back in 2010. 2 years after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, we – a group of friends – wanted to use all possible means to communicate about Georgia and we have realized that putting Georgia on the international map of the contemporary photography and making of Tbilisi a hub of visual storytelling could be a way to gather in Georgian capital leading photographers and editors from all over the world and support the development of the medium in the country and the region. And it’s exactly what has happened. During 10 years of the festival we have accumulated a great experience of doing different scale photo projects, we have accumulated important knowledge, international and regional networks and finally have realized that we are ready to create the first institution entirely dedicated to contemporary image in its different forms – photography, video, new medias. That’s how Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum (TPMM) was born.   We have conceived it and it works as an alternative artistic and educational platform that uses the power of visual storytelling as a catalyst for important social and cultural changes that are needed in our society.  Through exhibitions and associated programs, the museum together with Tbilisi Photo Festival provides new educational and artistic opportunities to local, regional and international artists. TPMM remains one of the rarest organizations operating in art & culture field in South Caucasus region that regularly implements verity of programs aiming at professional and financial empowerment of emerging artists in wide region – from Georgia to Bangladesh passing by Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan, India, Armenia, Thailand etc. For years we do support women photographers, video artists or curators, as well as representatives of ethnic and religious minorities etc. 
Museum Mediatheque and photo book library


Museum Mediatheque


The festival and the museum work together to offer many great educational programs. You have developed a wide range of projects that transcend generations, subjects, and nationalities. What are the guiding principles that you always keep in mind?

NN:  We are guided and inspired by the idea of sharing our knowledge with others. We speak magic language of photography that helps us to be opened to the world, to perceive the reality and ourselves, to reflect and to better understand who we are and the world we live is, to be more empathic … we want others to speak this language too… 

After many years of working on development of educational programs, Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum and Tbilisi Photo Festival have designed the concept of Visual Education Centers  (VEC) that aims at decentralization of educational activities and creation of small centers in different regions of Georgia that are geographically remote. The centers consist of accessible mediatheque, photo book library, rich multimedia archive and a strong educational program initiating teens to photography.  The first center has been inaugurated in May 2022 in the East of Georgia – un Pankisi Gorge, the second one in May 2023 in the high mountainous region of Adjara in Western Georgia.


Ukraine Runs Through It by Justyna Mielnikiewiczu | Tbilisi Photo Festival 2022
Rich & Poor by Jim Goldberg | Tbilisi Photo Festival 2022
Under the White Moon of March _ group exhibition at Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Meseum 2023

I understand that you are also exploring “how to preserve photographs”. Compared to books, paintings, and other works of art, photography is a new medium, but how important do you think it is to study its preservation?

NN:  Preservation is a key component as it prolongs the life of any artwork, enables the studies an keeps the continuum in the development of the visual cultural traditions. Benrido’s printing technic – enabling the longer preservation of the works – has a universal importance and through the use of very sophisticated practices of printing preserves the magic of the image. My dream would be to see one day the works of Georgian masters of photography produced by Benrido and after that, we can be sure that our photo heritage is well preserved and it will have a long life.


The Unknown Archives of T. Purskhvanidze 1960-70
View on the Collection Wall – TPMM


The key point of the HARIBAN AWARD, which you will be helping us as a Juror this year, is that the artists actually come to Kyoto and collaborate with the artisans at Benrido. What kind of new stimulation and influence do you expect for the award winner will have?

NN:  It will be a lifetime experience that will definitely have an impact on a winner’s further artistic practices. The opportunity of collaborating with artisans at Benrido, can become a tool of a strong professional empowerment on different levels:  first of all, learning the printing technics is a rarest opportunity and a great new knowledge and also, I think it can have an influence on further development of a winner’s “écriture photographique” an artistic language, signature, it can help to re-discover the winner it’s own work and to explore new possibility, new potential for it’s development … and that’s great! Benrido unveils the magic of a photographic image and makes it last… 

Do you have a message for those who are considering applying for the HARIBAN AWARD 2023?

NN:  Would love so much to be on your place – you are so lucky! You got a chance to apply for the Hariban Award 2023 and maybe even to win ! Who knows?! 

Nestan Nijaradze 

Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Tbilisi Photo Festival and Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum

Born in 1971 in Tbilisi, Georgia. After graduating from the Faculty of Journalism at the Tbilisi State University (Georgia) and obtaining the Masters degree of Cinema and Audio-Visual Studies at Paris University (Paris VII) in 2003, Nestan Nijaradze returns to Tbilisi and starts working as a photo curator contributing to the promotion of the rich traditions of Georgian visual culture on local, regional and international levels. 

Nestan Nijaradze is a co-founder and Artistic Director of Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum – first Georgian institution dedicated to the contemporary image in its different forms – photography, video, new media that has been founded in 2017 and inaugurated in September 2019. She is also co- founder and Artistic Director of Tbilisi Photo Festival – the first international photography festival in Georgia created in partnership with Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2010. 

In 2006-2021 Nestan Nijaradze has curated numerous exhibitions promoting Georgian and South Caucasian photography both in Georgia and internationally (including the collections of 19th century photography). 

In 2007 – 2009 Nestan Nijaradze has worked as an Editor in Chief of Photo Magazine – the first photo magazine published in Georgia, in Georgian that she co-founded in 2006. 

HARIBAN AWARD 2023 の審査員インタビューでは、トビリシ・フォト・フェスティバルのアートディレクターであり、トビリシ写真マルチメディア美術館共同設立者のネスタン・二ジェラッツェさんにインタビューをおこないました。


幸運なことに、私と写真の恋物語はパリで始まりました。トビリシ国立大学でジャーナリズム学んだ後、1990年代半ばにパリに移り、パリ第 7 大学のオーディオビジュアル学部に入学しました。私はパリで写真の持つ魔法を見つけてしまい、それに強い影響を受けました。パリは写真の首都であり、現代写真シーンの中心地であり、写真への情熱を育むのに最高の場所です。そして、それがまさに私にも起こりました。自分自身で多くのことを学び始め、展示会を訪れ、写真家に会い、写真機関やギャラリー、写真集を発見し、そして…もちろん写真も撮りました。しかし、ここで私はまたもや幸運だったのです。写真に対する情熱を自分自身が写真家であり続けることではなく、別の方向に向けるべきであることにすぐに気づきました。これは私のこれまでの人生において最も賢明なことの一つだったと思います。私は自分の姿を写真家として想像するのをやめ、キュレーターとしての実践を探求し始めました。そして、それを後悔したことはありません。


トビリシ・フォト・フェスティバル (TPF) は、2010 年に設立されたジョージア初の国際写真フェスティバルです。

2008 年のロシア・ジョージア戦争から 2 年後、私と友人グループはあらゆる手段を使ってジョージアについて伝えたいと考えていました。また、ジョージアを現代写真の国際地図に載せ、トビリシをビジュアルストーリーテリングの拠点にすることで世界中からジョージアの首都に一流の写真家や編集者を集め、それがこの国と地域の写真メディアの発展を支援する方法になりうると気づきました。




長年にわたり教育プログラムの開発に取り組んできた後、トビリシ写真マルチメディア美術館とトビリシ・フォト・フェスティバルは、地理的に離れたジョージアのさまざまな地域に教育活動を分散させ、小規模なセンターを設立することを目的とした視覚教育センター (VEC) のコンセプトを設計しました。VECは、アクセスしやすいメディアテーク、写真集ライブラリー、豊富なマルチメディアアーカイブ、十代の若者たちに写真の入門を促す強力な教育プログラムによって構成されています。最初のセンターは2022年5月にジョージア東部のパンキシ渓谷に開設され、2番目のセンターは2023年5月にジョージア西部のアジャラ高山地帯に開設されました。

Ukraine Runs Through It by Justyna Mielnikiewicz | Tbilisi Photo Festival 2022
Rich & Poor by Jim Goldberg | Tbilisi Photo Festival 2022
Under the White Moon of March _ group exhibition at Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Meseum 2023


The Unknown Archives of T. Purskhvanidze 1960-70
View on the Collection Wall – TPMM
今回審査にご協力いただくHARIBAN AWARDは、作家が実際に京都に来て、便利堂の職人とコラボレーションをするということが重要な鍵になります。受賞者がどのような新しい刺激と影響を得ることを期待しますか?


HARIBAN AWARD 2023への応募を考えている方にメッセージをお願いします。

私がもしあなたの立場だったら喜んで応募します – あなたは本当に幸運です!Hariban Award 2023 に応募するチャンスを得ているうえ、もしかして受賞するかもしれません!誰にもわかりませんよ?!



トビリシ・フォト・フェスティバル アートディレクター & トビリシ写真マルチメディア美術館共同創設者