Ksenia Kuleshova

2015 - Ongoing

There is an old legend the Abkhaz people like to tell to the visitors: when God gave each nation its place under the sun, the Abkhaz was too busy taking care of his guests so he came in late and there was no land left for him. But God remembered the great hospitality of the Abkhaz, so he gifted him the only place left where God himself wanted to live - the small region on the shores of the Black Sea. The Abkhazians call their homeland "Apsny," which means "Soul Land."

Unfortunately the real life is only a distorted reflection of this legend. Abkhazia, once one of the most beloved touristic regions of the Russian Empire and later of the Soviet Union, is really a lost place on the world map. Officially still a part of Georgia, separated after the civil war of 1992, it’s a state recognized only by Russia and just a couple of other countries.

The story „Abkhazia“ is a portrait of this region. It researches the everyday life of people who try to exist within this uncertainty, within a system that doesn’t have a future and doesn’t seek one. For me was important to find it’s Soul, what is so unique in this lost place.

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  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 17/05/2016. The National Dance Ensemble „Caucasus„ before a performance.

  • Abkhazia, Eshera, 07/07/2017. Potatoes are stored on a floor in order for them to stay dry.

  • Abkhazia, Duripsch village, 09/05/2016. Etluhov Islam (38) is celebrating his victory in the horse racing. Important horse racing and national sports such as horse-football take place twice a year in Abkhazia: on May 9th (also known as a Victory Day in the USSR that celebrates the end of the WWII) and September 30th (Georgian-Abkhazian war).

  • Abkhazia, Kamani village, 19/01/2016. Hegumen Ignatiy (Kiut) was standing in the cold water more than 20 minutes while people dipped into the blessed water.Festivities during the water is blessed in accordance with tradition of a Christian.

  • Abkhazia, Pskhu, 05/09/2015.The road to the village Pskhu. In the summer of 1942, Wehrmacht occupied the village.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 08/01/2016. Sukhumi’s Monkey Nursery was renowned in Soviet times for training monkey astronauts (eight from here made space flights in the 1980s) and as a medical research centre. Now it has only around 300 African and Asian monkeys in sad, smelly cages. Still, it‘s a popular tourist attraction.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 11/05/2016 Aditsa Tsikytania, a socialite, fashion blogger, and lawyer in her living room.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 03/07/2017. The bear sitting in a chair. He was caught during a hunt and now stays at a home as a domestic animal until the time he becomes dangerous again. After that will be brought to a zoo. By paying a small fee tourists can take photos with the bear.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 25/01/2016. Portrait of hegumen Ignatij, St. John Chrysostom's Monastery in Kamani village.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum,28/01/2016. This monument is dedicated to the victims of
    Georgian-Abkhazian war 1992/93.

  • Abkhazia, Bzyb Village, 14/05/2016. On my way to the lake Ritsa, I passed through the Village Bzyb and noticed the sign "Zoo at home". An unattached lion licking his lips and a woman with a child - that what I saw when I opened the door. "Don't worry, the lion has just eaten!" - told me the man, the owner of this zoo. By paying a small entrance fee for the animals feed you can also see some other animals and birds.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 03/01/2016.It has been almost 8 years since the last big snowfall in Sukhum. Everybody was outside making a "snowman", playing snowballs or just walking through the snow. The girl on the picture is making a part of a big snowman.

  • Abkhazia,Ochamchira village, 19/01/2016. Portrait of a woman, who lost her son in Georgian-Abkhazian war 1992/93.

  • Abkhazia, Eshera, 30/06/2017. In accordance with traditional rituals after a person passes away, his relatives put clothes and his overturned portrait on a bed. The bed sheets aren’t be changed for a whole year.

  • Abkhazia, Ochamchire, 18/07/2018. The woman is enjoying the hot spring in Ochamchire.

  • Abkhazia, Pskhu, 05/09/2015. Children playing in the village Pskhu. The majority of the inhabitants of Pskhu are Russians.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 06/01/2016. Adlejba Rimma (55) with her grandchildren Sadya (7) and Sayat (9) in front of the table with traditional food, mamaliga (maize porridge), Ajika (spicy dip), Sulguni (cheese), vegetables and fruits - a typical family dinner.

  • Abkhazia, Upper Eshera, 22/07/2019. In the Upper Eshera.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 10/05/2016. Beauty salon „New Fantasy“.

  • Abkhazia, Sukhum, 04/07/2017. Children spend their free time on the beach. A boy is jumping into the water.