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Georgia, A small piece of Eden

I went to Georgia for the first time in 2003, not long after the Rose Revolution.
I didnt go because of the revolution as such, but that was the context I found myself in.
I was on a journey, a personal journey, a dialogue with photography and story telling.
Georgia, like so many places with a sense of an ancient past, was a place that seemed to be in love with its own idea of self.
It is a place where people comfortably celebrate the lush beauty of the land.
The density and texture of the forests and mountains at first sight, transport you to a reality that might have been created by some alchemists brew.
It is the same with the features of people who occupy this place.
Faces ancient and distinct, complete.
At every opportunity I am invited to a visual and aural expression of who and what these people have decided they are.
Through dance, through song, through physical agility, through stories told over an abundant table shared by whoever wants to listen.
Displayed with ease, with pleasure, with grace, with love.
It is of course a kind of fantasy of sorts.

And yet there is a kind of melancholia, an underbelly that almost inevitably sets itself against such exuberance.
It is a place literally crumbling from the weight of such unsustainable romance.
On my return in 2008, after a summer at war with its powerful neighbour.
I found my friends exhausted but very much alive, alive in a way that is only possible when one is so close to the possibility of death.
I wanted to search for the people I felt most represented a flavour of this collective imagining, both theirs and at once mine.
I chose dancers and pilgrims, guests at weddings, and young judo players, they are only the beginning.
It is a work in progress and I must add to these portraits of human faces, a series of portraits of the land, the land that lies so close to the origin of their story telling.

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