Georgia: Past and Present
After having spent most of the 1990s photographing the wars and conflicts in the Caucasus, I returned to live in Tbilisi in 2008. The city I had known was recuperating from a civil war, with rampant crime and frequent power outages. In recent years, Tbilisi has turned into a laboratory for modern design and architecture and is fast becoming a new tourist destination. I am trying to take a look at this high-speed modernization, in a country with an ancient, often archaic culture at the edge of Europe.
Here, in Tbilisi Old Town, disintegrating old buildings and construction sites covered with canvas depict the renovation going on. In the older areas of Tbilisi, many buildings are in a state beyond possible repair. So they are entirely torn down and reassembled, and then they are rebuilt sort of as they were initially.
Canvas sheets are often draped across the scaffolding during the repair and to cover huge gaps between buildings.
An Italian school being built in Tbilisi. Another “driving around” picture. In one of the mostly Soviet suburbs of Tbilisi, this brightly colored, not-yet-finished Italian school building suddenly appeared.
Colors and paint jobs have been a big issue since the early years since the Rose Revolution.
This is the easiest and cheapest way to quickly brighten up the dull gray, sad Soviet buildings.
Young girls in an old Soviet entrance way in the Vake area of old Tbilisi.
A Ukrainian wedding party at a new boutique hotel in Kazbegi.
Woman watching cloud pilgrims at the Trinity Church Gergeti Monastery town of Khazbegi in the Caucasus mountains.
A newly opened shopping mall in Dighomi, in the Western suburbs of Tbilisi. The most extreme paint jobs can explode in many colors, as you see here in one of the new shopping malls at the edge of Tbilisi.
Local georgian kids riding a horse near the Trinity Church Gergeti Monastery town of Khazbegi in the Caucasus mountains.
A popcorn seller at Rihke Park, below the Presidential Palace.
GEORGIA. Tbilisi.2013.A violin player rehearses at the back entrance of the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi during a state visit of a EU commissioner.This was taken when just strolling around with my wife on Tbilisi's main Avenue.
Georgian filmmaker Levan Kitia in a café.
A young woman paying at a pay box – topping up her cell phone credit in the Vake district of Old Tbilisi.
The Aquapark construction site and a cow shepherd.
Near the Tbilisi Sea.
Dinner with friends at a restaurant in Tbilisi.
With a mirror effect.
A woman in a floral dress walking down the street in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi old town.
This is the Georgian Military Highway, the main axis through the Caucasus Mountains. Near Pasanauri.
A woman can be seen in the field. Dressed as if she were going to a funeral or a wedding, this woman was picking flowers in a field next to the road.
A faded election poster in the old town of Tbilisi.
A street in Tbilisi old town.
GEORGIA. Tbilisi.2013. The Mother of Georgia statue
This repainted Zaparoshetz is a Soviet-era car. I was just cruising around Tbilisi with nothing specific in mind when I came across this scene. In recent years, most Soviet cars have been replaced by slightly older cars from Germany and central Europe.
In the 1990's I briefly had a Zaparoshetz, which I bought for 200 Deutschmarks. The good thing was, whenever it broke down, which was quite often, I could push it home alone.
A girl in front of the House of Justice.
A young family visiting the Narikala fortress on a newly built funicular in Tbilisi.
Kashveti church and a Georgian woman.
A black lion at the "Shavi Lomi" restaurant. Traditional Georgian food. Although it was just a restaurant where I had lunch, the lighting almost feels like it was for a still life in a studio.
I just waited for the other guests to get up so it would be more natural than an untouched feast.
After studying in his native Germany, Thomas travelled Europe and the Middle East, capturing the war in the former Yugoslavia, before documenting the conflicts in Chechnya, Karabakh and Abkhazia. A Magnum member since 2004, the decade after 9/11 saw Thomas extensively covering the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their impact on US politics. Now based back in Georgia, Thomas continues to cover some news stories, such as the "Arab Spring" in Libya and Egypt.