Interview with Natela Grigalashvili, Georgian documentary photographer who has been teaching photography to students from high mountainous regions of Georgia and photographing The Final Days of Georgian Nomads. Open Society Georgia Foundation has supported Natela’s initiatives
Two women converse, overlooking an open mountain gorge. A horseman heads into the mountains, enveloped by fog. Bride and groom, elegantly dressed, arrive on horseback. In the evening twilight, only the warm orange glow from the windows of wooden huts illuminates the village road. Time seems at a standstill in Natela Grigalashvili’s photographs of mountainous Adjara, a region in western Georgia. Here, the locals traditionally move their herds to pasture grounds in the mountains in summer before returning in winter. Yet things are changing rapidly for them. Many have to seek seasonal work in Turkey for additional income, as more and more families leave their villages for cities. The mountain huts are emptying out.
Natela Grigalashvili, the first female photojournalist in post-soviet Georgia, has been photographing The Final Days of Georgian Nomads for several years now. Her images bring a delicate balance of tenderness and grit to her documentation of life in the mountains. Inevitably, the way of life in mountainous Adjara will change. In Grigalashvili’s photographs, the foggy, highland landscape will always feel like home.
In this interview, Grigalashvili spoke with Misho Antadze for LensCulture about learning from her memories and experiences, connecting with her subjects and the photography clubs she has opened in the places where she works. We first discovered her remarkable work when reviewing the “New Visions” Open Call submissions for this year’s Cortona on the Move festival in Italy.