Kolga Tbilisi 2021 Photo Competition Winners Highlight Georgian Talent

Photography News

The Kokga Tbilisi Awards, now in its 20th year, is the largest and most prestigious photo competition in the country of Georgia. Not to be confused with the state of Georgia, the awards intend to link international photography to Georgia.

The organizers of the Kolga Tbilisi photo competition have been hosting the presentation of the winners in Cologne, Germany as part of its intent to foster the international position of Georgia. This year’s competition was judged by an international jury: Vanessa Winship and George Georgiou, both photographers from the U.K. were joined by Tina Schelhorn, the curator of the Galerie Lichtblick, Kolga Tbilisi Photo in Germany, Stefen Chow, a photographer from China, and Jens Friis, a publisher from Denmark.

This year’s competition broke out into five categories: Documentary Series, Reportage, Conceptual Photo Project, Best One Shot, and Mobile Photo – One Shot.

Entry fees were used to fund for the winners’ prize fund, a total of $6,500. The winners in the first three categories received $1,500 each, the Best One Shot winner received $1,000, and the Mobile Photo – one shot category winner received $500.

Below are the winning images from each category.

Documentary Series

Photographer Emily Ducke was crowned the winner of the Documentary Series category for the series titled “The River Between.”

“The Ket River was once a major Siberian thoroughfare. Though serpentine and relatively small, it connected two of Russia’s biggest river basins, the Ob and Yenisey. In a region where extremes of weather turn overland roads from inaccessible ice to muddy rubble and back, and where driving distances are measured in days and weeks, the corridor the Ket River created was a key resource.

“But when the Trans-Siberian railway was built, at the start of the previous century, west-to-east traffic on the Ket River – the farmers and traders and Tsarist troops – began to dwindle.

“Fewer and fewer travelers needed the Ket, and today its banks are home to just a few scattered and solitary settlements.”

KET RIVER, Russia – July 06, 2016. Ksenia stands in smoke to escape swarms of mosquitoes after a swim. Her family left the regional capital of Tomsk just a few weeks before. They moved to live on an isolated weather station on the banks of the Ket River, exchanging urban comforts for the liberty of a life in the wild, away from the world.
UST-OZERNOYE, Russia – July 06, 2016. Ksenia’s parents, Yevgeny Sadokhin and Olga Voroshilova, pose for a portrait. The family left busy, urban Tomsk for the banks of the Ket River, to man an isolated meteorological station with no phone signal and no internet line. For them, the Ket River’s remoteness offered the promise of personal freedom.
AIDARA, Russia – July 24, 2016. A boy on a motorcycle moves cows from one pasture to another near the village of Aidara.
AIDARA, Russia – July 18, 2016. Stepan Borisov, right, and Antonina Borisova sit with their granddaughter in their home in Aidara. The community of about 150 people is made up mainly of Old Believers, a religious group that has historically settled in Russia’s most remote corners to avoid persecution. They live by the strict rules of their faith.
KATAYGA, Russia – January 18, 2018. Smoke rises from chimneys in the logging settlement of Katayga on the Ket River banks, as the temperature on a January night dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius.
KATAYGA, Russia – January 17, 2018. Workers in the Katayga settlement prepare logs for transportation. There is no bridge across the Ket River near Katayga. Loggers must wait for winter temperatures to turn the river into a solid, icy road in order to finally stack the lumber on trucks and send it across the river for distribution.
UST-OZERNOYE, Russia – July 05, 2016. Father and son pose for a portrait at their riverside home. They live a reclusive, hermetic life on the Ket River, fishing and growing their own food.
KATAYGA, Russia – July 10, 2016. Worshippers gather after a Sunday service at the Russian Orthodox church in the logging settlement of Katayga. In the absence of a priest, who did not make the six hour journey by river and road to Katayga that day, mass was led by Marina Prosukina. The religious duties she performed are normally reserved exclusively for men. But such strict rules could not withstand the remoteness of Ket — and so, along the river, a different kind of freedom was formed.
UST-OZERNOYE, Russia – July 07, 2016. Ksenia throws feathers into the air as she explores houses abandoned along the banks of the Ket River, her family’s new home as of a few weeks before.
NARYM, Russia – January 10, 2018. A man heads home after ice-fishing on the Ob River, near the mouth of the Ket River. After the construction of a canal in the late 19th century, the small and serpentine Ket River linked two of Russia’s biggest river basins, the Ob and Yenisey. As a result, it was a crucial transport corridor, and a busy route — until the Trans-Siberian Railway was built.
BELIY YAR, Russia – November 21, 2020. Boats stand on the shore of the Ket River. Residents cross the river by foot in winter, and by boat in summer. But for several weeks in autumn, when the river ice is forming, and again in spring, when it is thawing, the Ket River becomes impossible to cross. Some villages get totally cut off.
KATAYGA, Russia – January 19, 2018. A resident of the logging settlement of Katayga marks the religious festival of Epiphany, on a day when temperatures dropped to minus 45 degrees Celsius, with a traditional, icy dip.

Reportage

Photographer Alessio Paduano took top honors in this category for his series documenting the Coronavirus pandemic in Italy.

“February 21, 2020 is a central date for the Italian story related to the new coronavirus. On this date, several cases of coronavirus emerged in the Lodi area of Lombardy: these are people who do not come from China, a new outbreak whose extent is still unknown. The infection has spread to Italy, especially in the North, but also begins in other regions. On March 9, 2020 the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, during a speech to the nation declares the entire Italian territory a “protected area”. On March 11, 2020 “World Health Organization” general director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced in the Geneva briefing on the coronavirus epidemic that Covid-19 “can be characterized as a pandemic situation”.

“Italy remains one of the deadliest hot spots of the coronavirus pandemic. As of March 5, 2021 more than 99,000 people have died in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.”

Nurses take care of a patient who lie in bed inside the coronavirus intensive care unit of the “Papa Giovanni XXIII” hospital in Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 17, 2020.
A nurse takes care of a patient who lie in bed inside the coronavirus intensive care unit of the “Papa Giovanni XXIII” hospital in Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 17, 2020.
Isaia, 80 years old and suspected covid-19 positive is visited by nurses of the Italian Red Cross after an emergency call in Ranica, province of Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 11, 2020. Before the emergency call, Isaia had had a high fever for several days.
Workers carry a coffin before recovering a person’s body during the coronavirus emergency in Naples, Italy on April 1, 2020. Although the person did not die from coronavirus, the work of funeral agency officials is among those most at risk during this emergency, as often can find in contact with corpses of people who died by coronavirus and the risk of contagion is very high.
Maria, 87 years old and suspected covid-19 positive is transferred to the hospital after an emergency call to the Italian Red Cross for experiencing respiratory problems in Villa di Serio, province of Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 12, 2020.
Maria, 87 years old and suspected covid-19 positive has a respiratory crisis before being transferred to the hospital after an emergency call to the Italian Red Cross for experiencing respiratory problems in Villa di Serio, province of Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 12, 2020.
Barbara, 37 years old and suspected covid-19 positive is visited by a doctor of the USCA special care unit of ATS Bergamo after an emergency call for experiencing respiratory problems in Brignano Gera d’Adda, province of Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 17, 2020. The doctors of the USCA special care unit performs home visits to patients infected or with symptoms of Covid-19.
A patient lies in bed inside the coronavirus intensive care unit of the “Papa Giovanni XXIII” hospital in Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 17, 2020.
Father Marcello (left) and Father Mario Carminati (right) bless the coffins of coronavirus victims inside San Giuseppe church in Seriate, province of Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 15, 2020.
Giorgio and Elisabetta witness the cremation of their relative through a monitor inside a video room of the crematory in Naples, Italy on March 27, 2020. Due to the coronavirus emergency it is no longer possible to celebrate funerals inside churches and funeral processions are prohibited. In the case of cremation, relatives can greet the deceased for the last time through a monitor that shows when the coffin is introduced into the crematorium.
Alessandra, 51 years old and covid-19 positive is visited by a nurse of the Italian Red Cross after an emergency call for experiencing respiratory problems in Scanzorosciate, province of Bergamo, Northern Italy on April 19, 2020.
A funeral agency employee is seen inside the mortuary of the “Pesenti Fenaroli” hospital in Alzano Lombardo, Northern Italy, on April 13, 2020.

Conceptual Photo Project

The Conceptual photo category hosted two winners: Jennifer Crane for her series “Outlaw (and other failed portraits)” and Andrea Pietro Signori for “Suspended: The rural life of Syrian refugees in Marjayoun in the middle of the Lebanese crisis.”

First, Crane’s series:

“I consider the portrait as a trace of the body or performance for the lens. Since its inception, the photographic portrait has been used to honor or vilify the human subject. Initially my interest was in exploring family portraits this led to further explorations into portrait photographs in the public context such as museums, institutional archives and in the news media. In these images I pose my own body before the lens using a long exposure of several minutes rather than the conventional fraction of a second. They are made using wet collodion one of the first photographic processes that requires the light sensitive emulsion to stay wet while exposure is made resulting at times in presence of liquid residue markings that interrupt the surface of the image and draw attention to the materiality of photograph which in most portraits remains invisible. Through the creation of this fictional archive I seek to engage with issues of surveillance, memory, authenticity and archival practices.”

And next, Signori’s series:

“The crisis that has hit Lebanon put on knees Syrian communities. This is the case of Marjayoun where about 5000 Syrian refugees live since the war broke out in Syria in March 2011.

“Along the border between Lebanon, Israel and Syria, 860 families live in 74 informal camps.

“The families are often numerous, with many children whose majority was born in Lebanon.
They live on agriculture, serving as laborers in the service of Lebanese landowners. The salary ranges from 4000 to 5000LL which is gradually losing purchasing power. As reported by Avsi, one of the NGOs in the area, people are suffering the consequences of the heavy inflation. Since the revolution broke out the official exchange rate of 1$=8000 LL (variable every day) has been joined by a parallel market.

“The concept involves the use of nylon used to cover furniture during the move. I wanted accentuate the refugees status, the political and work suspension and the expectations, by Syrian refugees, to come back home.”

They are among the few to have a house that belongs to the owner of the countryside, granted in exchange for work. Ahmad and Lamia are cousins. They have lived in Marjayoun for 9 years. Their home in Syria was destroyed.
Marjayoun, Marjayoun district, Lebanon.
January 15, 2020
I gave directions to the subjects to pose for a portrait

Syrian refugees in Lebanon for several years
Marjayoun, Marjayoun district, Lebanon.
January 16, 2020
I gave directions to the subjects to pose for a portrait

Hamid has not received UNHCR support for 4 months at the time of the photo shoot. He has been residing in Lebanon since 2017. He Lived in Raqqa when a bomb destroyed their home. He has had a heart attack and therefore cannot work or buy the medicines he needs
Marjayoun, Marjayoun district, Lebanon.
January 16, 2020
I gave directions to the subject to pose for a portrait

Children, like their parents, work in the fields. There is a bus service for transportation to school locations (lessons are often organized in tents) but many families can not pay for the service.
Marjayoun, Marjayoun district, Lebanon.
January 14, 2020
I gave directions to the subjects to pose for a portrait

They arrived in Lebanon in 2011, at the start of the war in Syria. In 2013, Siham’s husband was in their tent, sick. He was making tea and our son accidentally started a fire. For 20 days they moved from one place to another, because the army did not allow them to camp permanently
Marjayoun, Marjayoun district, Lebanon.
January 15, 2020
I gave directions to the subjects to pose for a portrait

As a result of his father’s difficulties, Abbas cannot pay for school transport by spending much of his time looking after his father
Marjayoun, Marjayoun district, Lebanon.
January 16, 2020
I gave directions to the subject to pose for a portrait

Best One Shot

Photographer Caspar Claasen took top honors in this category for his photo below titled “Grandmother’s Hug.” No additional context for the photo was provided.

Mobile Photo – One Shot.

Photographer Zuka Kotrikadze won this category with her photo below titled “The Tsereteli Station.” No additional context for the photo was provided.

To see the entire set of finalists and peruse the competition as a whole, make sure to visit the Kolga Tbilisi Photo Awards website here.


Image credits: All photos individually credited and provided courtesy of the Kolga Tbilsi Photo Awards.

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