A Photograph from GeorgiaPosted: September 11, 2011
In this black and white photograph a peasant woman hunches over in a field, her country’s mountainous terrain spread out in front of her. It’s the country of Georgia in the early 1990s and the woman, seen from behind, is layered in the kind of loose clothing that has always been associated with dignified laborers. We see her from an unobtrusive distance, observing her at work. This vast ancient landscape is both her job and her hearth. It breaks her body and nourishes it. The scene is her daily view; it is unspectacular to her. A peasant’s world touched with the sublime romanticism of a dream, like that of the Andrei Tarkovsky film The Mirror. It quietly opposes the revolutionary romanticism constructed by Soviet propaganda.
I wonder what she’s reaching for because the ground doesn’t offer anything except unforgiving dry dirt punctuated by patches of wild vegetation. Maybe she’s putting something down, giving something back. I think of the way farmers must relate to their land in the same way that fishermen relate to bodies of water. They live on its rhythms, around its schedule. This photograph is small like an old photograph, printed on paper that is cut unevenly on its edges and curling slightly with age like a dying leaf. The picture swallows this anonymous woman who is a product of her land, her country and her time.
Note: This photograph by Natela Grigalashvili is included in Definitions, a group exhibition of Georgian photographers at Newman Popiashvili Gallery, New York.