2020 Kolga Tbilisi Photo Award Winners Announced

For the first time in 19 years, the Kolga Tbilisi Photo Award, the biggest and the most prestigious photo contest in Georgia, was held in a fully virtual format. 

Yesterday, on May 4th, winners of the International Photo Awards Ceremony were announced. The audience was able to follow the awards ceremony in the social media networks, on the official Facebook page and through Artarea/Tv2.0 live broadcasting.

This year, the winners of the photo contest were chosen by an international jury in the following categories: 

BEST REPORTAGE, divided between two winners: Mouneb, 'War Notes' and Kiran Ridley, 'Hong Kong Pro Democracy Protests'

'War Notes' 

“In war, life has a different meaning, everything about normality disappears. The daily routine is definitely abnormal, even if it seems normal for people who live there. Every day, bombs fall, people die, buildings are destroyed. The reality of the war cannot be denied; however, there are people who are significantly trying to resist the bitterness of this terrible war through their determination, hope and desire to live”.

The project 'War Notes' illustrates the struggle of civilians to overcome the war in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, which was under siege by Syrian government forces for over 5 years. The siege ended when the Syrian regime, supported by Russian forces forced the people to leave the area after months of heavy shelling that caused the deaths of thousands and led to full destruction in the area.

'Hong Kong Pro Democracy Protests'

“Since 9 June, Hong Kong has been plunged into a political crisis, with waves of demonstrations and several violent clashes between Police and protestors. What started as a protest against a proposed government extradition bill allowing citizens to be extradited to China has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city. Since the controversial extradition bill was withdrawn, protests continued, with protestors calling for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to meet their remaining demands, which included an independent inquiry into police brutality, the retraction of the word 'riot' to describe protests, amnesty against prosecution for all those arrested, Carrie Lam's resignation, and genuine universal suffrage in a call for true democratic rights”.

Kiran Ridley is an award-winning photographer working throughout Europe and Asia. Most of his work concentrates on news, social-political topics and the human experience. Fascinated by people and naturally curious about the human condition, Kiran is passionate in documenting ongoing situations throughout the world, capturing the human dynamic, trying to seize the unexpected in a succession of unique moments that we humans create, whether in our hopes and dreams or in anger. His work has been published globally, including in The Sunday Times Magazine, The Times, The LA Times, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro, Le Point, Die Welt, El Pais, Forbes, Observer and Guardian newspapers, Time, Spiegel, amongst many others. Based in Paris, his work is distributed by leading photographic agencies Getty Images (Europe) and Polaris Images in the United States. Many of these programs are available as stand alone applications that you can download and install on your computer.

BEST MOBILE PHOTO: Merav Maroody, 'Cádiz'

Merav Maroody, a Berlin-based set and actors photographer and an art magazine chief editor (msuse art and sexuality magazine), has been working in the last 10 years on various film productions in the US, Europe, and Israel. While working on a small Hollywood production in Los Angeles, fresh out of school, she was discovered by a Sony pictures’ producer and for the next five years was one of Sony’s top five set photographers in Europe. Throughout her career, she has had the chance to work alongside talented DOP’s, including Douglas Milsome (“The Shining”, “Full Metal Jacket”) and actors including David Hasselhof, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and, in a recent film, Alexander Fehling. Maroody’s experience with working on film productions has laid the way for her to start developing her own personal film ideas. For the last 8 years, she has been living in Berlin and taking pictures of actors and sets.

BEST CONCEPTUAL PHOTO PROJECT: Giorgi Shengelia, 'Accidentally Portraits'

Giorgi Shengelia was born in 1984 in Tbilisi, Georgia. He graduated in 2006 and in 2009 moved with his family to live in Florence, Italy. While there Giorgi became interested in art and photography. In 2012, he decided to take a course in photojournalism in the school of Marangoni. During his studies he also got to know photo agencies (Prospekt, TerraProject) and their works. After finishing his first photo project (four rooms) he moved back to live to Tbilisi to work on independent photo projects. In 2014, he was chosen for Noor-Nikon Masterclass Istanbul.

"Coincidences often condition changes. My family's photo archive burned long ago. Only a small number of photos survived. Burned, torn, cropped, and distorted small photos speed up the searching process. The small nostalgic photos inspired me to work on a new genre that would give me the same feelings as the photos surviving the fire. I try to create this mood in accidental portraits that I see every day," says the photographer.  

The nomination One Shot: Arek Rataj, 'An Hour Before the Lockdown'

Arek Rataj is a Poland-born freelance photographer and lecturer. In 2019, he started teaching at Jianghan University in China's Wuhan and photographed daily life when the coronavirus outbreak began in the very first world’s epicenter. During the outbreak, he collaborated with the Associated Press.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Nikita Teryoshin, 'Nothing Personal - the back office of war'

“Every day we see pictures of war and destruction on the news; the expenditure on armaments is setting new records year after year. Well, let’s take a look at the other side of the subject – behind the curtains of the global defense business. Nothing Personal shows the back office of war, which is the complete opposite of a battlefield: An oversized playground for adults with wine, finger food and shiny weapons. Dead bodies here are mannequins or pixels on screens of a huge number of simulators. Bazookas and machine guns are plugged into flatscreens and war action is staged in an artificial environment in front of a tribune full of high ranked guests, ministers, heads of states, generals and traders. I deliberately don't show you the faces of the participants. It is not my intention to fix everything upon a certain person. I just want to give insight into this exclusive happening. The pictures were taken at 14 defense fairs on 5 continents," says the author. 

Nikita Teryoshin was born in Leningrad (RU) in 1986, studied photography at FH Dortmund, and now lives in Berlin. His genres are street, documentary and everyday horror. He has participated in group exhibitions in Germany, Italy, the UK, United States and Singapore. His first solo exhibition was in 2017 at La Chambre Gallery in Strasbourg. His work has been published in magazines such as VICE, SZ Magazin, ZEIT Magazin, GUP, Mouvement and VRIJ.

Within the framework of the Kolga Photo Week, from May 5 to May 10, viewers will have the opportunity to visit local and international, personal and group exhibitions in the virtual space.

Along with the exhibitions, photo week's Education Section is hosting discussions of international photo experts, portfolio reviews of international photographers, editors, curators and art critics this year. Additionally, as part of the photo week, TBC Status - თიბისი სტატუსი Education Platform - Status Meetings - will host 2 discussions.

May 5, 19:00
José Luís Neves - Let’s Get Physical! Interrogating the Boundaries of Photobook Making.

May 8, 19:00
Canon Ambassador Clive Booth - "Recipe for a Portrait" 

For more details about the exhibitions and works, visit the KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO Facebook page.

By Ana Dumbadze 

Photo: Winner of  the nomination One Shot: 'An Hour Before the Lockdown'

05 May 2020 11:59