Last spring nine Magnum photographers captured Georgia in its moment of renaissance and awakening, says Thomas Dworzak.
I first went to Georgia in 1993. I knew there was a civil war. It was one of those blurry things you heard about as the Soviet Union broke apart. I wanted to be there. I felt at ease in the Caucasus. Tbilisi was love at first sight. I hadn’t been anywhere before where I felt so at home – where I felt I fitted in, could get along with people. I thought Georgia would be a war-torn country; that people would go on about how horrible the Abkhaz, the Ossetians, the Russians were, or moan about the sadness of life after the break-up of the Soviet Union. But Georgia turned out to be the perfect place for me. As a stranger I could be part of it. I came for the war, but stayed for the peace.
The Georgians are the most un-Soviet people in eastern Europe. I was reminded of this during the South Ossetian war last year. When the Russians drove in – oppressed Soviet kids on their old tanks – and met the boastful Georgian cops in their new uniforms, the differences were spelt out: their body language, the way they talked, their attitudes – it was like two centuries clashing with each other.
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