2018 - Ongoing
A journey along the new Silk Road, a newly constructed railway, which begins in Azerbaijan, flows through Georgia and along into northern Turkey (Kars) – to visually explore what has been heralded by key funders: SOFAZ (State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan) as a modern-day gateway to Europe: promising renewed unity and prosperity.
Starting in Georgia, located amidst a troupe of authoritarian countries: Azerbaijan, nearby Iran, Russia, and Turkey. However, Georgia has always looked to the West and harboured hopes of a democratic vision for their future – one that is especially apparent in Tbilisi where an almost heady-lust for European values exists. But to what extent will this so-called democratic railroad bring change and perhaps leverage Georgia’s integration into the European Union?
Seen by critics as a moot transportation development; skeptical it will not provide any greater economic progression. But instead only serve to boost the geopolitical importance of Baku in the region; transporting Azerbaijan’s oil-wealth to Europe whilst further isolating its neighbour, Armenia.
As a European living in the ‘new east’, and witnessing from afar the UK’s slow train crash called Brexit, I wonder what European dream Georgia is longing? Currently the EU is in flux: divided by pro and anti-European groups; seen by creeping fascism and nationalism with desires to return to nation states. Similarly the far-right factions in Georgia are surfacing, as the country remains deeply religious with homophobia, racism and female inequality still afflicting the region.
So is Europe right for Georgia? What do the people really want and how do they perceive their country, nationality and future?