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Georgian Spring : 10 Magnum photographers explored Georgia - travel journal published by Kehrer Verlag and exhibition in Berlin

Ten Magnum photographers were invited by the Georgian Ministry of Culture to describe the country. Those photographers were Jonas Bendiksen, Antoine D’Agata, Thomas Dworzak, Martine Franck, Alex Majoli, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, MarkPower and Alec Soth. Each of the photographers went their own way and returned with a journal of words and pictures, which have in turn been given 20 pages each in the book.

20 years after its independence from the Soviet Union, and following a war fuelled decade, Georgia has mounted a spirited comeback. Situated on the eastern fringe of Europe, between Turkey and Russia, with a sophisticated culture that dates back to its settlement by the ancient Greeks, Georgia was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922.

Its independence was restored in 1991, but this was followed by civil war and economic breakdown. In the 21st century, despite ongoing tensions with Russia, Georgia is starting a afresh, transforming itself into a modern European state at a remarkable pace.

Pinkhassov travelled the Georgian Black Sea coast - once the Mecca of the Soviet Union - recording light and textures in his unique manner. Paolo Pellegrin explored Georgia’s spiritual side.

Mark Power travelled to Georgia with his large format 5x4 camera, fascinated by the clash of old and
new. Bendiksen spent most of his time in Georgia in the capital city: “I wanted to meet the new generation of young Georgians: the ones who have no real memory of life under the Soviet system, who have grown up entirely in the new era. In Tbilisi you see them everywhere –  looking nearly indistinguishable from their peers in London, Oslo or Berlin.“

Thomas Dworzak photographed Micheil Saakaschwili, the world’s youngest president, who put up a fight against Russia and was open to talks with the West. Martin Parr’s journey through Georgia  involved recording his favourite subjects – leisure and consumption. He photographed brightly coloured slot machines on the outskirts of town.

The journals are introduced with a foreword by Thomas Dworzak, a timeline of Georgia’s history, and an essay by Wendell Steavenson. A chapter on the best Georgian photos from the Magnum archives recalls the photo agency’s early years – including Robert Capa’s photo essay on the country in 1947 made while visiting the Soviet Union with John Steinbeck. The book opens and closes with a series of
postcards showing some of the country’s most famous sites.

Georgian Spring – A Magnum Journal
Author: Wendell Steavenson
Kehrer Verlag
ca. 25 x 29 cm, 256 pages
ca. 240 colour photographs, ca. 36 Euro
ISBN 978-3-86828-086-9

“Georgian Spring” exhibition
5 - 13 September 2009
Uferhallen, Berlin
Uferstrasse 8-11, 13357 Berlin
Opeing times: 11.00 - 19.00

Magnum Photos online have produced an online documentary, which can be viewed on www.georgianspring.com from September 2009 onwards.

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