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A journey in photography from Tbilisi to the remote mountain region of Svaneti.
A journey in photography from Tbilisi to the remote mountain region of Svaneti.
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Elk in the River

There are a few different legends about the founding of Tbilisi. One tells about King Vakhtang on a hunt in the woods around the Mtkvari River. He shoots a deer, and it falls into the water. In one version of the story, it climbs out from the river healed and it runs away. In another, it falls into the water where the hot springs boil it. In each version, King Vakhtang is inspired by the occurrence and decides then that this land of Tpili, of warm currents, would become the new city.

For months before I left for Georgia, I studied the road through Svaneti that terrified me which I would inevitably have to take. I assured myself that it would be fine and there would be no problem on the long mountain paths. I dreamed of them, sliding around bends and through tunnels and over narrow passes and gorges. Then in the early morning one day, I was really on that road, dozing in and out of sleep surrounded by the same things I saw in those dreams and waking fears.

As we drove I thought about the nature of the story, about how there was no conflict between life and death and that their presence would not affect the legend; stories integral to existence had pivotal details that were entirely interchangeable as long as the story was told. Then our little bus rumbled down the road, edging slowly around a rockfall that brought us a heavy sigh from tumbling off a cliffside. And I thought, as I came either into or out from a dream, that the end of the legend makes up everything around us, and the start of the legend is the very stone underneath it all. Ultimately, what happens to the elk in the river doesn't matter, and yet it is the essence of existence. That is what haunted me.

There is no order to these photographs. There is no sequence, and if I could arrange it so, you would each view them differently. This is not a study on time, but on the nature of the legend.

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A few new photos

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Producing

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Discovering

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