ML: You are an English citizen with a Tibetan heritage, when growing up in England how often did you have the opportunity to visit your father’s homeland?
RA: I first went back when I was seven. At that time the journey took almost a month. A 10 hour flight to Beijing, a two day train journey, 4 days by jeep, 1 day on the back of a truck and then 10 hours on horseback and at an ascent of 15,000ft. Because of school I wasn’t able to make the journey again until I was 18 but I’ve been back every year that I could since. Now, you can fly straight into Jyeckundo, the closest town.
ML: Do you still have family there?
RA: Yes! My father was of one of 11 children, sadly my Aunts have passed away but I still have lots of cousins there.
ML: Could you let us know why your father emigrated in England? What is his background? Rural or urban?
RA: My father was born in 1933, in Kham which is in the East of Tibe...
Hassan Kurbanbaev was born and raised in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He graduated from Tashkent University of Arts where he studied Cinematography. Today his main focus workwise is the study of his country through visual material.
ML: What image of your country you wish to convey via your photos?
HK: I think most of people who are not familiar with my country there is no exact picture of Uzbekistan. There is no reference to rely on. I want to catch the image of a modern country through people, their portraits, and cultural rich layers.
ML: Uzbekistan is located in central Asia, what you would say is the most Asian aspect of Uzbekistan?
HK: This question is one of many that I often ask myself. Do I feel that Uzbekistan is part of Asia? Most often it is associated with the Muslim East for obvious reasons - most of the country professes Islam. What exactly unites us with Asia is something collective, loyalty to ...
ML: What attracted you to Georgia?
CR: I had the wonderful chance to get to know Georgia under the programme of a residency exchange programme of the Christoph Merian Foundation, Basel. I must admit that I applied for a residency in South Africa and was then selected for Georgia. The jury thought that my approach would be perfect for a stay there. This was my first «prize»! So my journey took me to the city of Tbilisi. I was completely overwhelmed by the recognition - and then by the country and its people.
ML: Were you there with a special concept in your mind?
CR: I wanted to capture the ways in which people reflect their environments. For example inside a bath house, or the tropical institute.
ML: Nurses, bus drivers, firemen, butcher, workers, your subjects seem to be all all belonging to the people. Did you deliberately choose your subjects from this kind of background? Why?
CR: I don’t choose ...
here, and only now. We produce our blend of newly-shot original interviews, film footage, portraits of artists and talents. We focus most on singularity, significant individual works and exhibitions, provocative ideas, and biographical material. We want to be there when it happens - and of course we want to be there first.