A Conversation with Beso Khaindrava, founder of Kolga Tbilisi Photo
Within the framework of “KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO” week, along with Kolga Award exhibition, the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi, hosted various international and local exhibitions featuring both historically significant images and photographic works depicting various positions in contemporary photography. For “KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2016” visitors had a chance to get familiar with the works of world-renowned photographic artists and view various international photo exhibits. A new award was added to the photo contest this year: Kolga Newcomer Photo Award. This award was given to a young photographer Johanna-Maria Fritz under the age of 25, whose photo series was chosen among the best series in the following categories: Reportage, Documentary Series, Conceptual Photo Project. Kolga Newcomer Photo Award 2016 is founded by a co-organizer of the photo week, Teona Gogichaishvili and her German colleagues, art patron Max Schön (well-known German expert in renewable energy technologies, president of Deutsche Club of Rome) and established German photographers – Dirk Gebhardt and Theodor Barth. This award is given to the best photo series of young participants of the photo contest. The winner of this category received 500 Euros. The aim of the Kolga Newcomer Photo Award is to facilitate the development of young photographers and paving their own path in the world of photography. Under the framework of “KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO” workshops, seminars, discussions and portfolio reviews were hosted to underline our philosophy to support the further promotion of the art of photography as one of the new media forms among Georgians and to advance them in their development.
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO 2016?
The photo competition this year put together 320 photographers from approximately 40 countries. The number of participants has increased in comparison with the previous year, so these figures show that this is a very successful project and a significant event in Tbilisi’s cultural life.
CAN YOU NAME SOME THEMES WHICH ARE HOT NOWADAYS?
Projects from different countries are really versatile. The series about refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and from some countries of Africa, photos covering the Ukrainian tensions, the world after the financial crisis, global heating problems in the world and more. There is a plethora of themes and we are very grateful to those photographers who did their very best in showcasing in their remarkable histories – tragedies or happiness from the lives of people from different corners of the world.
YOU HAD SOME VERY INTERESTING AND HIGH-PROFILE GUESTS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES…
We had really very interesting and high-ranking photographers: Doogie Walas – a London-based photographer internationally recognized for his long-term social documentary projects and having an expressive and distinct direct style of street photography; Simon Norfolk – a Nigerian photographer from Lagos, who is known for his architectural photography and has won a World Press Photo award, Foreign Press Club of America Award, Citibank Prize and other prizes; Thekla Ehling – who studied photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Dortmund and at the College of Fine Arts in Limerick, Ireland and is best known for her remarkable portraits and always succeeds in capturing the essence of each individual, regardless whether they are famous or not; and Kai Löffelbein – an award winning documentary photographer from Germany, shooting projects around the world. I am sure workshops of these high-flying artists are a brilliant chance for every photographer to increase their knowledge and refine their skills.
WHICH EXHIBITIONS LEFT THE MOST VIVID IMPRESSIONS ON YOU?
I am really very happy that the program included Georgian exhibitions. The girls of “Error Image” offered us a rather impressive showing, Mari Nakani had a very powerful series, an event of “Kaleidoscope” photographers was much spectacular and highly praised by viewers. Mariam Amurvelashvili and Sergo Edisherashvili presented their small expositions. From "Kontaktphotos" were presented the works of photographer Natela Grigalashvili (Founder of "Kontaktphotos") and other members of agency: Vaxo Khetaguri,Andro Eradze and Beso Uznadze. I really liked these showings and I’m also highlighting them because they have provoked interest among a number of viewers.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO YOUNG AND BEGINNER PHOTOGRAPHERS?
Learn and learn! I would advise them to broaden their horizons and increase their knowledge, because photography does not exist without education…
PHOTO: NINA FITZGERALD