The title of your work is ‘My parents don’t talk to me’ – what is the concept behind it?
The project aims to start the process of opening up a conversation between generations. “My parents don’t talk to me” started with finding old photo films in a dusty basement of my family house. After scanning around 600 pictures I realised that I recognise many faces or locations in the photographs but I know nothing about them. I gathered a lot of questions for my parents, but the main one was why nobody was saying anything about their life back in Soviet times.
The silence between generations of Soviet and independent Georgia is an issue not only in my family but the whole country. The photographs gathered in the book are the representation of an era that has become a shame to be remembered. The last ruling generation of Soviet Georgia has re-closed the iron curtain to block the memories back in time.
How did you come across the photos that you used in your book?
I was back from my military service when I was looking through my photo archives. Couldn’t find several of them. That’s how I decided to enter the room where I wouldn’t enter normally. That’s how I found the films that I was not looking for but the dirty negatives representing the memories from 1950s to the end of 1980s.
After discovering their archive and going through many of them what questions would you ask your grandparents if you had the chance to today?
The questions would be somehow very simple from their daily life such as:
How much did a kilo of fresh meat cost in the market?
Who was going to the market?
Is that you in the picture?
Also I would like to know how did everything start:
What happened in the1950s?
What was my grandpa doing in the Kremlin with his family?
What was their favorite games?
Why did my grandma leave Tbilisi?
The photo collection touches many different aspects raisiny many questions but the main one is still why did they choose silence and do they feel comfortable to break it?
This project is a compilation of old family photos, but it’s so much more than your dusty photo album hidden away on a shelf in your parents basement. Why do you think this personal project will find resonance with a larger audience?’
It is the collection of not one person but the whole group of Soviet middle class, as far as the pictures are made not only in Georgia but in many different Soviet states. It basically tries to research the stories of the people with post totalitarian trauma. How was the development from “the winner regime” to the collapse of it. What did the process look like through the middle class society not suggested by pro or anti regime propaganda.
Recently there have been quite a few of these discovery projects based on discovery film archives — Vivian Maier comes to mind for example — what do you think the interest is more broadly in reaching into these past archives for inspiration?
I totally love the amazing works or Vivian Maier. But I would sadly say I got the inspiration not from her but from the dust of the found photo films itself. As I mentioned before It is also not clear who was standing behind the camera and most probably there were many different people making those photographs. The problem of silence is here and the main goal of the project is to break it. To start a conversation.
Special thanks to Giorgi Rodionov for sharing his new work with us. You can secure your copy online or in our gallery at 21 Revaz Tabukashvili, Tbilisi, Georgia. International shipping is available. Giorgi will be giving a presentation as part of Kolga Photo 2018 at our gallery on May 8th.