One can follow the history through the photographic images of public places, events, city maps and individual stories from two radically different parts of Georgia starting from 1920s until 1990s. Each image and each story presents the country more than the history books published during those times and even later. Through the narratives of the images, the years and families, their links, their relations and geography, we can map the stories and present the country’s real history. Furthermore each image can tell us a story of satisfactions, sorrows, worries and happiness, these stories shows how close people are connected to their roots and their neighbors, all adding a gravitas and wonder to how current conflicts that have ravaged and continue to ravage the country even took place.
With a purpose to show the most concrete story of the region, Ajarian photos presented during the exhibition are taken from the end of 19th century right up until the 1970s. The exhibition consists of three main chapters; the First chapter is the history of Batumi, its maps and images showing the industrial and urban changes during the Soviet period. Presented images are from the Khariton Akhvlediani Archeological Museum archives and from the private collection of Valeri (Sasha) Mitaishvili, who worked as a photo correspondent for the newspaper “Soviet Ajara” from 1954 -1995. His images are representing almost the whole soviet history of the region, an amazing and unique collection of staged and natural images, from official meetings and events to home celebrations and portraits.
All images and their stories are interlinked and connected with each other through relations to other people, places and time, thus creating a cohesive narrative.
By researching and evaluating our past we can identify the real history which will form a strong base for our future and will help us to avoid the same mistakes we repeated throughout previous generations.
It remains unknown whether the author took full body portraits of these people on purpose or the equipment available at that time did not allow taking ¾ size photos. The most interesting is the end result: portraits revealing social status, sense of style, personality and character of models, as well as other interesting details about the people and the period between 1955 and 1965.
Shalva Alkhanaidze, a self-educated photograph (1927-1978), was born in the mountainous Mta-Tusheti (the Dano village) North East region of Georgia. Because of his poor health, Shalva Alkhanaidze had to give up traditional occupation for the region – shepherding – and found a relatively easy job to support his family. Following the advice of his relative Shalva studied photography in 1955 and set up the first photo studio in the region in his house. In 1955-1976, Shalva created photo portraits of several generations and a unique photo achieve depicting the life of Mta-Tusheti people. But his works remained largely unknown to the general public.