To begin with, nothing too original: the people are really friendly. But there is something else. Georgia is a paradise, the one of my childhood. It reminds me of the lifestyle we lost in France. I grew up in a village and the thing I love here is this everyday village life: the village produces what you eat, vegetables, honey, bread. Everyone know everyone else. But in fact, I came here because people from post-soviet countries often recommended Georgia. And they were right. This country is amazing, it has its own alphabet and language, the oldest wine-making tradition, the polyphony…! And I wanted to share it through my book.
I wanted to deal with the picturesque and the special. For instance, the Georgian hospitality. In a village I visited, a man invited me to a “supra,” this large feast which brings people together. He said “You are the guest, sent by God.” At that moment, I understood I was on the borderline between the West and the East. Georgian hospitality is a key part of my work. I remember that a seller gave me a watermelon and a few weeks later, the former Prime Minister wished me success during a toast at a local event.
There’s nothing superficial in my work. My pictures not only capture life, but also live the life like the “supra,” as strange as it sounds.
The spirit of Georgia is not only in the pictures but also in the soundtrack, a repertoire of traditional Georgian and polyphonic songs.
The real one! I tried to capture all parts of the country including the Georgia which is disappearing, like a testimony of traditions. For example, in Svaneti, I had the opportunity to see the mix between religion and paganism during rituals, a kind of syncretism. You can find all these examples with more explanation in my photo book.
If I had to tell you all the topics my pictures deal with, we'd be here all day, but among others, in my work a part is dedicated to Abkhazia, one of the most beautiful Georgian regions. There are also some photos about the “medieval Manhattan,” Ushguli. It is incredible, the place had more than 100 towers in the 11-12th century. It was a really important and lively place before. You will also see the place in which Georgians became the masters of metallurgy, where iron weapons were seen in that era like nuclear weapons are today! Transhumances, and the Tusheti Towers, Caucasus sentinels, etc. everything you want to see about the country. A major part of the book is related to rituals and everyday life. Normally, it is really hard, maybe impossible, but I got permission to capture funerals in Svaneti.
I really liked the days I spent in Svaneti. Why? Maybe I prefer the Svan stone towers to the Batumi concrete towers. But there is a lot to see in Georgia. Georgian landscapes are an honor for our eyes. One of the “greatest sides of the small land,” but not the only one. In fact, I tried to show the “Greatest of the small lands.” Georgia is geographically small, but culturally huge.