Giorgi Tsagareli and Yuri Mechitov are two of Georgia’s most respected and talented photographers. Their portfolios include powerful images that have come to define a generation of documentary photography. Collectively, their work has contributed to the definitive photographic record of Georgia’s tumultuous post-Soviet transition. It is to their credit that they have taken so many memorable images, without which we would be at a significant loss. But what makes their images stand above the rest?
An iconic image tells a powerful story.
By the late 1980’s, segments of Georgian society had become frustrated with lackluster and oppressive Soviet leadership and began demanding more autonomy. By April of 1989 these grievances led to protests in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. Religious figures featured prominently in the protests as symbols of cultural and national unity. Giorgi Tsagareli’s iconic photograph tells this story with powerful imagery.
Comes to define a moment in time.
“Sometimes everything by God will unite in one image.” – Yuri Mechitov
Taking a compelling image requires much more than being at the right place at the right time – an iconic image is often what comes to define place and time itself – fixating it visually for future generations. April 9th, by Yuri Mechitov, does just that. The image was taken on April 9th, 1989, when the Soviet Army violently dispersed anti-Soviet protestors. 21 people died and hundreds more were injured. The militant action taken against peaceful protestors radicalized opposition to Soviet power. This powerful image of a defiant female revolutionary would come to define this crucial moment in Georgia’s nascent struggle for national independence.
Is an image you won’t forget.
Collectors and curators are after the ‘impact’ factor of an image. It’s the ability of an image to strike the viewer emotionally and intellectually, thereby drawing the viewer into the visual narrative the photographer is trying to convey. In documentary photography, this is all the more difficult of a task, as so many variables exist beyond the photographer’s control. When it happens, it’s magic.