Refugees of Georgian Villages

Refugees of Georgian Villages

Natela Grigalashvili, 2008 Winner

Natela Grigalashvili’s project follows the lives of the quarter of a million refugees from the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia now living in villages in Georgia. In a classic example of how the story of the aftermath of conflict is the prologue of the future, Grigalashvili’s 2007 proposal took on new significance a year later, when Russia and Georgia went to war over South Ossetia.
Lost in time. Gori, 2003
Wanting to be a soldier, Khashuri, 2004
Granny and grandchild. Qareli, 2002
Sisters. Kaspi, 2005
Doctor helps hobo. Gori, 2002
Family. Khashuri, 2004
Brothers. Kaspi, 2000
Childhood. Kaspi, 2000
Farm in mountains. Khashuri,1999
Lonely woman. Gori, 2001
Homeless man. Qareli, 2000
Herdswoman. Gori, 2004
Shepherd girl. Qareli, 2002
Road covered with snow. Kheiti, 2008
Photographer's Statement: 

Georgian village — exotic for some and bitter reality for others.

My photo-conception is specific and simple.

Forsaken people, deserted by everyone. They do not know what comfort is and therefore do not know what egotism is.

Poverty: wooden huts, old clothes, sad eyes, resignation to fate — it is their fate and they cannot change anything. That is why there is calmness and despair in their eyes.

What will tomorrow look like? Will they be able to feed their children? Will they be able to give them better future?

It seems that the world carried away by progress does not need them and does not even notice them. Sometimes while watching their life one may think — do these people need civilization at all? Maybe it is better for them to remain there, in the heart of earth and nature, where despite poverty a human still remains a human. Because it is they who can preserve national soul, traditions and originality against a background of globalization and integration.

I work calmly beside them and never need to create a special environment. They do not pose in front of a camera, neither show off; they just act naturally before a camera. ...Their life is full of permanent monotonous exhausting labor. And the income is so small that they can hardly last from harvest to harvest. Future is hazy and they expect relief from nowhere.

Of course these photos will not solve their social problems, but they may serve their purpose — they may show the society their hard way of life and remind them about their existence.

natela.grigalashvili's picture

Natela Grigalashvili is a Tbilisi based professional photographer and a chronicler recording the life of the normal people in the country with her camera. She is concerned with documenting the way of living that has endured until today. She grew up in the rural environment and is very familiar with the way of people’s living there. Natela photographs her relatives, friends and simple people, who enjoy their basic life, sometimes full of happiness, sometimes burlesque.