(roadsandkingdoms.com) The Georgians, while famously expansive as hosts, also have ancient customs that no man wants to cross. A wiry, smiling Georgian explained this on the first day of my first visit ever to the country years ago: “For example,” he said, “if you said something bad about my sister, I would have to kill you. Or at least try. I don’t know if I could kill you, but I would definitely try.”
And yet there is an unalloyed charm to these customs. Georgia, for all its faults and sorrows, has kept its culture alive, in part because of the vibrant and intact agrarian life that is the heart of Georgia. That’s why Europeans and Americans who visit Georgia often fall so deeply for the place: its rural traditions remind us of who we used to be.
Very few photographers out there tell the story of rural Georgia in as raw and intimate a way as Natela Grigalashvili. She is from the countryside herself, and after a pioneering start as the first female photojournalist in post-Soviet Georgia, she has turned her eye toward the villages. Her stunning new project is called Georgian ABC, and she is currently funding it on Kisskissbankbank, a European Kickstarter of sorts. Go pitch in your bit there. It’s a book that deserves to be published.
I was honored to have the chance to speak with Grigalashvili from Tbilisi on Skype recently. Here is our conversation, only lightly redacted: roadsandkingdoms.com/2013/grigalashvili
Georgian ABC book from Natela Grigalashvili on Vimeo.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Natela Grigalashvili
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