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Daro Sulakauri March 10, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Georgia.

Chechen Refugee Settlement. Pankisi Gorge, Georgia 2008

Daro Sulakauri (b.1985, Georgia) obtained a degree from the Department of Cinematography at the Tbilisi State University. Soon after, she moved to New York to study photojournalism at ICP. Before graduating in 2006 she was awarded the John and Mary Phillips Scholarship as well as recognized by the ICP Director’s Fund. Upon finishing, she returned to the Pankisi Gorge in her native Caucasus nation of Georgia and continued Photojournalism. She won second place in the Magnum Foundation’s Young Photographer Caucasus award in 2009 and the  SCI (Civil Society Institute) award for the Best of Photojournalism. She was also featured in the American Photography 25 book: Social Documentary’s best of 2008, and received honorable mentions in the PX3 and B&W Awards.

About the Photograph:

“This  photo is from series “Terror Incognita” a personal project I started in Pankisi Gorge, a region in Republic of Georgia. The Story documents one of the Chechen conflict’s hidden narratives in an outpost of refugees who crossed to Georgia from Chechnya and have remained in relative isolation ever since. Chechens have a reputation for rugged individualism, even among the peoples of the Caucasus who – by any standards – are accustomed to rugged conditions and nurture a fierce sense of national pride and independence in light the imperialist tendencies of surrounding nations. These people live an ordinary life today, although they are largely destroyed psychologically. Without a clear future and struggling with the past, they still have hope to return home one day.

“They are caught in a no-man’s land; unable to return home and unrecognized as official refugees and are forced to remain in the tiny and economically isolated Pankisi Gorge. Pankisi has no vacancies for jobs. While not deporting them outright, the Georgian government has not yet supported them with any legal documentation, so it is impossible for them to search for jobs in the city. They and their families have no prospects for change, and little prospect for achieving self sufficiency in their current circumstances. By most estimates, approximately five thousand Chechens escaped the deadly war in Chechnya by fleeing to Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge.”