I bought the camera in the summer of 2014 in a shop in Tbilisi. I intended it as a work tool. I bought a reflex camera. Thus far I had only taken photos with small compact cameras.
In a short time, the work tool became part of my identity. Its use radically changed my relationship to research. The camera forces you to re-interpret through the lens the meaning of places and people. The flat field and the consequent picture are not the result of a random click. On the contrary, I want to give a conscious visual report on the subject matter of my research. This picture is not merely the view of the space and people existing independently of me, but rather the imprint of an intimate and constant dialogue between us, in which aesthetics and practice merges in an unrepeatable moment.
“What the photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once. The photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially. The photograph is the absolute particular, the sovereign contingency, the This (this photograph, and not Photography), in short, the Good Luck, the Occasion, the Encounter, the Real.” (R. Barthes, Camera Lucida 1)
The flexibility and practicality of the work tool allows me to constantly reinterpret the environment and society around me. Quickly I discovered that even if I take photos of the same space, my pictures are adjusted not only to research needs of the moment and the intended descriptions, but, as taking photos has already become a part of me, also to my momentary moods and visions. It is also very interesting to put the camera in the hands of my informants, so they shoot with it. These images are “seen-from-inside” views of reality, even more personal representations.
I ran down the stairs of the high-rise building. I wanted to go along the main street that cuts the Zahesi quarter in half, and leading to the Jvari monastery. I was filled with enthusiasm by the device in my hand, the idea that finally I can recount – even to myself – the reality around me.
I got to a hitherto unknown part of the quarter. Some women were engrossed in conversation, the black contours of their clothes sharply outlined in the foreground of the gray blocks of flats. I asked them the way. They stared at the camera, one of them absent-mindedly pointed somewhere. I went that way. Soon I found a small building, half-overgrown by vegetation. On its smooth wall, vigorous figures of dancers and musicians, stiffened only by the immobility of the gray material, not fit for dreams. After the block houses, finally something to test my device appears. It was not easy. I felt I was not yet sensitive enough. After a few clicks, with waning confidence I left the stage.
But the bright sun promised everything good. I cared less about the new toy, and more about finding a suitable object, as if Robert Capa had returned to Tbilisi. Lush vegetation all around, a few dilapidated concrete buildings, nothing else. A couple of little boys came toward me on the street, laughing, either of each other or of me. I did not ask. I had to find my subject myself. After a long walk, the sight of a blue spot pierced through the branches. Perhaps an old fountain, or a playground. I never found out. Fish, waves, seaweed. The tiny tiles of the mosaic were carefully arranged by the worker or artist, commissioned personally by Brezhnev, or maybe only by a local functionary, to bring some liveliness in the housing estate. The sea in Zahesi. Kitano in Zahesi.
Kelaptari: Sacekvao. From the album Georgian Dancing Melodies (2012).