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News & Insight

Moving Images Of A Nation Still Emerging From Soviet Control: ‘I Am Georgia’

By Kishore Sawh on February 23rd 2014

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If you’re East of the Black Sea, north of Turkey, west of Azerbaijan, and south of Russia, you would find yourself in Georgia. As far as real estate goes, Georgia occupies a prime spot, but sits there like Kendall Jenner sat in the Kardashian family – unnoticed. Until of course, she came of age, when she began grabbing column inches like her fame thirsty siblings, and the world began to take notice of the individual.

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Having been under Soviet control for the majority of the last century, the past two decades of independence have begun a sort of renaissance for the exonym that is ‘Georgia,’ and the nation is beginning to come of its own. That being said, the culture of Georgia and stories of its people aren’t all too common, at least in the west. However, as is often the case, a photographer is using her work to take us into the world of this ‘new’ nation with a storied past. Dina Oganova loves her country and is chronicling its detailed story in the project ‘I am Georgia.’ A project she feels will never stop.

Georgia is my favorite topic to shoot. Not because I was born and brought up here, but because everything is special here – people, streets, architecture, traditions…
I began this story in 2007 and I think it will never finish because Georgia is inexhaustible…

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As seen with India and Romania and other ‘new’ nations who have recently come into independence, the initial road isn’t smooth and that’s usually what’s captured in the news. The toddler of a nation is trying to find balance between running full speed into the future, and not letting go of their past. Oganova’s work does a beautiful job of illustrating the parts of life that aren’t only captured for news, but the more delicate and typical moments; prayer, contemplation, play, breakfast.

[REWIND: A Mother’s Magical Portraits of Her Sons’ Adventures]

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Thoughts

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious, so said Oscar Wilde. Arguments for both sides of that opinion won’t be in short supply, but either side of the fence you fall on it would be hard to see what Dina is doing as anything other than a great service to her country and countrymen. Possibly the greatest service to it is how she has informed those outside her borders about what’s in them.

I would love to go to Georgia. I found her images beautiful and subversive to the old definition of the country. Though she is obviously technically proficient, the moods really stand out and the black and white focus really add to the nostalgia. Whether intended or not, the details from the less-than fashion forward clothing, to the old-world decadence of the table setting, it’s all compelling.

You can find the complete series and more from Oganova at her website.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Sreejit Sreedharan

    I’m wondering why India is mentioned along with Georgia as a newly gained independent country. India gained independence decades before Georgia did (1947).

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    • Abel

      Any country that achieved independence within the last 100 years is considered “new” Think about it from a logical perspective on history and geology because of the phases that countries go through after they achieve independence. Also it’s not like countries make themselves independent every 10 years.

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