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Anna Perepechai

The Certain Point

A visual story about the border aesthetics shot along the 64.8 km demarcation line between Georgia and Abkhazia, which has a total overland border of 162.8 km, including 98 km in the hard-to-reach mountainous area.

Starting from the mountainous Potskho Etseri, going through the only checkpoint in Rukhi, the other villages nearby and ending in a coastal city of Anaklia, the project is capturing and analyzing the area down the border at Enguri river site — a space which “got frozen in time” and where “nothing is going on” since the early ’90s.

Built on the splinters of the USSR, a separatist movement, a war, and genocide of Georgians¹, now, around 25 years after the armed conflict, Abkhazia remains isolated. As its territory is waiting for recognition by the international community, its existence is strongly considered to be a “waiting” act.

Abkhazia’s border is the construction of truth and reality in a certain spatial entity, controlled by the opposite Georgian vs. Abkhazian/Russian sides, existing independently and regulated by strict rules. As a product of the symbolic, exact or desirable differences, it constructs a dimensional space along the Enguri River. As the watercourse changes sporadically, the border itself is unofficially transforming — at least in the understanding from one side.

To come to Abkhazia is only possible with special permission and a visa. There are just two official border checkpoints² and the rest of the line rarely has a fence but rather an invisible wall. You can get to a certain point: a concrete block, a riverbank, or a random checkpoint. But no step further. Otherwise, you can hit a mine, be kidnapped, fined, or in extreme cases killed.

There are four self-claimed republics in the post-Soviet space: Abkhazia, The Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Transnistria and South Ossetia. Considering the war in eastern Ukraine, which has been going on since 2014, Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic could join the list if the conflict doesn’t resolve in the next few years.

When: 2018
Where: Georgian-Abkhazian border
How: 35 mm Film Photography

1   In 1931 — 1990 Abkhazia was an autonomous republic within the Georgian SSR. The self-claim of Abkhazia, followed by Georgian declaration of independence in 1990, resulted in a series of armed conflicts and ended with a war in 1992 — 1993. Since then, Georgia and most of the world sees Abkhazia as part of the Georgian autonomic republic. Still, Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Syria recognize Abkhazia. The exact number of Georgian victims of the ethnic cleansing during the war is disputed but ranges somewhere from 8,000 to 10,000 people. Roughly 200,000 to 250,000 ethnic Georgians had to leave their homes and relocate as refugees.

2   Since the 1st of April 2016, the residents of the countries which don’t recognize Abkhazia, have to apply for a visa before visiting. The Georgian border checkpoint is located in Rukhi. To cross it, one needs official Georgian permission. The Russian border checkpoint is located in Sochi. By using it, you are violating the legislation of Georgia.