Title: Shared Sorrows, Divided Lines
Photographer/s: Justyna Mielnikiewicz
Date of publication: published few copies as a Book Dummy in 2010
Place of publication: Blurb
Category: Photography Book
Summary: SHARED SORROWS – DIVIDED LINES is my personal story of experiencing life in the Caucasus. It is an ongoing discovery of an extraordinary place, where no matter how carefully I study it, the end result produces more questions than answers.
I first arrived in Georgia in 2001, inspired by the implausible stories and passionate nature of two Georgian friends who had stayed at my home in Poland in the 1990s. They were intensely proud of their Georgian identity and utterly bitter over what their country had become. I relished their sharp and cynical sense of humor, in which anything could be turned into a joke; humor was also a way to neutralize fear or hardships.
I moved to Tbilisi a year later and started a long-term project about the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – and the separatist territories of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. I completed the story in 2009, one year after the war between Russia and Georgia ended. I chose to photograph the region as a whole instead of focusing on an individual country because these countries share so much in terms of traditions and customs, while their fates are intertwined. They are victims of the same history. The separatist conflicts they each face are the consequence of political disputes. The ethnic antipathy we witness is a localized byproduct of these disputes, not the cause. The dynamics of this ethnic mosaic, which I see as a curse and blessing, is the underlying element in my work.
It took the Georgian-Russian war in 2008 to get the world to look at the region, but the attention was as short-lived as the headlines. The South Caucasus is a vital link between east and west. Its geopolitical significance has not changed. The west and Russia have designs on Azerbaijans oil; a democratically developing Georgia has eyes on NATO membership, which Russia aims to thwart; opposition parties strive to overthrow repressive regimes; and people wonder how they can afford the rising cost of bread without a job. Conflict is a daily reality.
Date and place of birth of photographer/s: 21 November 1973 Marklowice, Poland
Donated by: Blurb
iPL Notes: This book was an Honorable Mention in the Editorial Category for the Blurb Photography Book Now competition 2010.