Just a church.
Just a graveyard.
And trembling images.
And just children.
Just monks, just priests.
And forlorn objects that still live their forgotten lives among the ruins.
And the sky above everything.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
From Ithaca, Constantin Cavafy
And melancholy too. From war and exile. From absence. From decay.
Lado Pochkhua is a Georgian painter and photographer whose works were presented this month in the Tbilisi National Museum. He was born in Sokhumi but was forced to move to Tbilisi in 1993 after the civil war when Abkhazia proclaimed its independence and separatists expelled Georgian populations from the region.
“At the age of twenty-three I lost everything: family, friends, my hometown, my house, my documents. In Tbilisi I discovered a new, disorderly and hungry life as a refugee from Abkhazia. That is, I’m no one. Zero. A person without a social function. After receiving my first package of humanitarian assistance, a US Army kit of beans and meat packed in tinfoil, I promised myself that I would get out of the trouble I had fallen into”.
The photographs of the series “Anatomy of the Georgian Melancholy” (1993 – 2004) were taken while living in Tskneti, a suburb of Tbilisi where refugees had settled after escaping the war in Abkhazia: at the time, Lado Pochkhua was learning English from a copy of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.