Project Title: “Scars of Independence”
A disputed region on the east coast of the Black Sea, Abkhazia was once a prosperous subtropical resort. However following the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the civil war resulting from Abkhazia’s secession from Georgia, the region’s tourism-based economy crumbled in the early 1990s. After several years of a total blockade it became dependent on Russia’s economic support which continues to help meet some of its basic needs.
Though the UN and other international organizations still recognize the republic as part of Georgia’s sovereignty, Abkhazia considers itself an independent state. Every year people mark the anniversary of the self-proclaimed republic with a military parade, while their country still does not exist on world political maps. The Abkhazian passport is still invalid abroad. The new generation born in the country in the last two decades is living in a state of limbo. Meanwhile, the state has proclaimed a policy of developing relations with other countries and building up its national identity. The government has embarked upon a policy to attract repatriates from Turkey, Syria and Russia, where the largest Abkhazian enclaves are located, providing them with free living quarters and welfare. All of these measures are aimed at making the Abkhazian dream come true – to enlarge a small population and to preserve their ethnos along with their origins and roots.
For two decades, the aftermath of war and geopolitical isolation continues to inhibit both the people and the land they live in. These trials continue to inflict physical and moral scars on the residents.
I’ve been photographing in the region for over two years now. This series interlaces the stories of the people and their homeland that are separate from each other, yet remain within one mutual world of seclusion. The project aims to uncover the meaning of deprivation within the context of the turmoil experienced by the republic.
Olga Ingurazova is a freelance documentary photographer with a background in international relations and economics based in Moscow, Russia. After years of working in the tourism industry, she became active as a photographer and visual journalist in 2010.
Olga began her photography career by documenting post-conflict recovery and the aftermath of separatist movements in the Caucasus. Her works have been part of both individual and group exhibitions in Russia, France, Italy, Portugal, Georgia, Croatia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Olga is a 2014 Aftermath Project grant finalist, a finalist for the 2014 Lucie Foundation Scholarship and winner of the 2015 Invisible Photographer Asia Mentorship Program Scholarship Grant. She was short-listed for the 2014 Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation grant. She was also named for the 2015 shortlist of Magnum Photo’s “30 under 30” list of emerging documentary photographers, and was listed as one of Photo Boiete’s 2015 “30 under 30 women photographers” to watch.
Currently, she is focused on personal long-term documentary projects, working in both photography and multimedia. At the center of her attention are the effects of political, social and environmental processes on peoples’ lives and on the land they inhabit.