Thomas Dworzak

Born (1972) in Kötzling, Germany. He lives and works in Georgia. Recent solo exhibitions: Kavkaz, Tbilissi Photo Festival 2011, Europe House Georgia and Tbilissi Photography House, 2011; Kavkaz, Magnum Gallery, Paris, 2010; M.A.S.H., Huesca Festival, Spain, 2007; M.A.S.H., Ville de Bayeux, France, 2007; Katrina (with Stanley Greene and Kadir van Lohuizen), Groenigen, The Netherlands, 2006; 2004/05 Off Broadway, New York, USA / Arles, France / Berlin, Germany, 2004/05; Taliban Collection, Helsinki City Art Museum, Finland, 2003.

For several years I had tried everything possible to flee from the small Bavarian town I grew up in, and I ended up eventually in Moscow, at the age of twenty. After spending more than a year there trying, unsuccessfully, to get my act together as a photographer -studying Russian and photographing pretty much everything I came across without a specific story or clue- I discovered the Caucasus. It was love at first sight.

In the spring of 1993, I decided to try and live in Tbilisi for a few months before going to university at the end of the summer. It was then when I began to discover the cultures of the Caucasus, without preconceptions: the hospitality of the people; the beauty of the languages; the incredibly fast changes in the post-Soviet period; the wars and conflicts, bravery and cruelty. Only this place of such extremes could provoke such extreme emotions. I became fascinated and overwhelmed by the region. I meant to stay only for a few months and ended up staying for several years.

It became my story, The Caucasus, and not just any story. In the years to come I would try to photograph everything and learn as much as I could about the place. Photography was my objective but also the excuse to live it, to experience and be part of the story. To be there, to be present in that place at that specific instant in history.

The intensity of the war in Chechnya and the relatively sweet life in Tbilisi were like an addiction. Not really having any other opportunities or place to go back to, it took until 1998 for me to be able to leave this place behind. To this day, everything I do afterward seems slightly pale and distanced. Having discovered the importance of the “Caucasus Experience” in 19th century romantic Russian literature, I am finally trying to put together a book with all my pictures from these years.

In the end, Bavaria is still my home, my origins, the place where I come from. But the Caucasus is where I feel like I have grown up, and I know I will always keep returning there.

 

Thomas Dworzak

Photos

Magnum Photos and Μagnum Gallery, Paris
Magnum Photos and Μagnum Gallery, Paris
Magnum Photos and Μagnum Gallery, Paris

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon