Stories from the Caucasus, through the eyes of five Georgian photographers | TOP 5

Stories from the Caucasus, through the eyes of five Georgian photographers | TOP 5

In recent decades, Georgia has witnessed many events and changes that have affected the life of the country as a whole. In today’s selection, we present five Georgian photographers who have captured a chapter of their shared history.

Daro Sulakauri

Daro started taking photographs at the age of fourteen and her work has been evolving and changing organically ever since. Her first project documented the daily lives of Chechen refugees in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia, one of the most dangerous areas of the country at the time. She wanted to learn as much as possible about their culture and traditions, influenced by her grandmother’s Chechen origins. Her 2008 photo series Terror Incognita captures this period.

Terror Incognita. 2008

Encouraged by her initial success, she has embarked on other projects, such as The Black Gold, which explores the lives of Georgian miners, and Deprived of Adolescence, a series that looks at the tradition of youth marriages that is still prevalent in Georgia today.

She is currently working on an investigative project that aims to uncover one of the worst crimes in Georgia’s recent history: in the 1990s and early 2000s, thousands of babies were declared dead at birth and then put up for adoption on the black market for money.

Deprived of Adolescence. 2014-2016
Deprived of Adolescence. 2014-2016

Natela Grigalashvili

Natela Grigalashvili grew up in a small village in the mountains before moving to Tbilisi to study. The recurring subjects of her photographs are Georgian villages that are becoming increasingly deserted.

The series The Last Days of Georgian Nomads shows the life of nomadic communities in Adjara province who spend their days in the mountains. In many cases, their only income comes from herding livestock. As a result of globalization, more and more people are moving to the cities, and the traditional way of life they were able to maintain for so long is now disappearing.

Natela has been documenting the life of the community for nine years. She says the encounters are as important to her as the photos she takes.

Guram Tsibakhashvili

Known mostly by his nickname, Tsibakha was born in 1960 and has emerged as one of the most important figures and documenters of the contemporary Georgian art scene. In the 1990s, he produced a wealth of images of famous artists of the period and their extravagant lifestyles.

He says he learned a lot from this environment, from technical details like how to make a good composition to his attitude toward life. He believes that the best way to get to know the inner world of artists is to photograph them in their studios.

Dimitri Eristavi painter and graphic artist. 1995
Edmund Kalandadze painter. 1995
Iliko Zautashvili art historian and curator. 1995

David Meshki

David was born in 1979 in Georgia. After graduating with a degree in hydroecology, he decided to pursue photography instead, starting out as a documentary photographer.

Movement is a recurring theme in his work. His first primal experience with this subject may have been related to the work of his father, who coached the national gymnastics team in the 1980s. This gave him the opportunity to travel, which was considered a great privilege during the Soviet era and allowed David to see many parts of the world.

In one of his biggest projects, he explores the skateboarding world of Tbilisi, which was also the basis for the documentary When the Earth Seems to be Light (2015). He currently lives and works in Berlin.

Prayer. 2020
All Saints. 2021

Dina Oganova

Dina works as a freelance documentary photographer, mostly shooting extensive projects on subjects close to her heart. Equality is very important to her and she believes that there is only one religion, love. She especially enjoys photographing people with whom she has a strong emotional connection and who are important to her. She does not seek out her subjects but lets them find her.

She began working on her series I Am Georgia in 2007, exploring her favorite subject, the diversity of Georgia. She believes that her country is special in every way, and not just because she calls it home.

She has a passion for editing limited edition books because she likes to hold the images in her hands in their physical reality, rather than looking at them on a screen.

I Am Georgia. 2007

Cover Photo: Natela Grigalashvili

Daro Sulakauri | Web | Instagram
Natela Grigalashvili | Web | Facebook | Instagram
Guram Tsibakhashvili | Facebook | Instagram
David Meshki | Instagram
Dina Oganova | Web | Facebook | Instagram

Sources: darosulakauri, inframe, atinati, metalmagazine, calvertjournal, dikarka, upphotographer

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