Latest Documentary by American Photographer Shows What Abkhazia Looks Like

SOKHUMI, Georgia - When American photographer Robert Walton Cooper traveled to Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region, he had no idea what to expect.

He was familiar with the current development of the separatist region but had a strong desire to see and reveal a hidden side of the mysterious place, which suffered a secession war with Georgia in early 90's and sooner after collapsing of the Soviet Union Russian-backed rebels in Abkhazia broke away from Georgia.

Once known as a prime holiday destination for the Soviet elite, these days Abkhazia has become the homeland of a nation who are "stuck there".
The real reason he went to visit Abkhazia was to help a friend find his abandoned house in Ochamchira, whose family was forced to leave in the early 90's.

On February 17th he packed a bag and crossed Abkhazia’s so-called border through Georgia.

“When I crossed from the Georgian side into Abkhazia, it was very obvious that I was entering a different place. Despite the primitive border crossing infrastructure, the guards on the Abkhazian side made sure you knew that you were entering their land. The few Abkhazians I encountered who spoke English, despite being intelligent, were living in a bubble (not to their own fault or lack of desire to travel). They are stuck there,” Cooper said to Georgia Today.

Fascinated by its history and ongoing cultural dilemma, Robert decided depict his trip to Abkhazia and share photo stories with wider audience around the world.

A black and white documentary photo series make you feel what life in the breakaway region looks like.

Duke Smetzkoi was said that if he wanted to heal his wife she had to sleep every night in a new place free from bacillus. He built a palace of 365 rooms, a different room for every night of the year. Around the house he made a beautiful garden full of unique flowers and trees so that she would see the beauty through the windows. Here is what remains.

On the seaside in the center of Sokhumi, Abkhazia.

The former parliament building in Sokhumi.

The former parliament building in Sokhumi.

Duke Smetzkoi's palace.

Photo by Robert Walton Cooper

25 March 2016 12:03