International Kolga Tbilisi Photo Festival Held for 18th Time in Georgia

The 18th edition of the Kolga Tbilisi Photo Award, the biggest and the most prestigious photo contest in Georgia, was officially opened in a former cable station on Rustaveli. The opening ceremony was preceded by a photo exhibition on Baratashvili Bridge. Photos in the categories Documentary Series, Reportage, and Conceptual Photo Project were exhibited at the venue. The illuminated spiral building of the historic cable station hosted photo enthusiasts and public on the evening of May 3. The attendees ascended the circular staircase of the cable station to see works displayed in categories Best One Shot and Best Portrait. The award ceremony was rounded-up with a concert from Georgian band The BearFox.

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

BEST REPORTAGE: Mustafa Hasona

A photographer from the Gaza Strip, Palestine, Hasona now works with the Anadolu Agency AA, having worked as freelancer for AFP, REUTERS and been selected by The Guardian for the Best Photographer 2014. Through his images, the photographer showcases Palestinian protesters on the border with Israel demanding their rights to return.


Podavini is an Italian born photographer. He presented a series of Lake Turkana that has been declared "World Heritage in Danger" by UNESCO. In 2009, he began collaborating with the Collective WSP, where, in addition to work as a photographer in collective projects, he works as a professor of Photojournalism.


Mellor, a fine art photographer based in the UK, plays with the idea of architecture as hero, exploring tensions and rifts between the building and its surroundings.

The nomination One Shot, divided between two winners: JELENA JANKOVIC and NIGEL DICKINSON.

“I came across the Kolga Tbilisi Photo catalogue online,” Jelena Jankovic told GEORGIA TODAY. “I saw amazing photos and amazing authors, and decoded I wanted to be part of this festival and exhibition. I decided to apply to the contest with my image ‘Selfie-culture,’ which tells the story of the selfie culture, how it influences people and social networks. I think this theme is important, since the growing selfie-culture has begun to determine our lives. By constantly showing where we are and what we do, we miss the opportunity to enjoy the moment, real life. My photo tells the real story and my message that it’s time to focus on our real lives.”

Jankovic is primarily engaged in documentary, freelance fashion, conceptual and experimental photography. Her photographs have been published in such magazines as Rolling Stone, National Geographic, Professional Photographer, and ELLE. In 2018, she published her first book about the traditional dance of Serbia.

Nigel Dickinson, a British born documentary photographer, photojournalist and filmmaker working for over 35 years, focuses on the environment, human condition, marginalized communities, sustainable development, identity and culture. His winning image was ‘An effigy of Prime Minister Theresa May at ewes Bonfire, Bailing Out a Sinking Brexit Ship, To Be Blown Up During Firework Display.’


The winner of NEWCOMER AWARD was 23-year-old Johannes Glinka from Berlin. In his work, he focuses on social political issues. The photographer pictured refugees at Central Station, mainly from Afghanistan, trying to get to Europe via Hungary. In the interior shots, the people are anonymous whereas the portraits show the personalities behind the faces.


The winner, through his images, shows the sad story of his mother who had breast cancer and underwent several surgeries. She is still having chemotherapy. “I photographed her and my family from the day of the first surgery,” Mangialardi said. “I hope I don’t have to photograph anything anymore.”

The Kolga Award prize fund of $7,500 was equally divided between the winners in the first three categories. The winners of these categories received $1500 each. The Best One Shot and The Best Portrait categories winners got $1000 each, while the Mobile Photos Series category winner was awarded $500. The winner of the Kolga Newcomer Photo Award was also given $500.

The main goal of the Kolga Awards is to link international photography to Georgia and to local photography. Announcement of the Photo Award worldwide intends to foster its international position and to facilitate the professional development of young photographers and help them to pave the way in the world of photography.

“We were given the old cable station space to organize the exhibition in, showcasing the photos of two categories of the contest,” Founder of Kolga, Beso Khaindrava, told GEORGIA TODAY. “The public can see the works of remaining nominations on Baratashvili Bridge. The festival incorporates a number of exhibitions on different themes at different locations, so anyone can attend at least part.”

Within the festival, ongoing until May 10, around 19 international and local group and solo exhibitions have been opened at different locations in the capital. As part of Kolga, other highlights include workshops, discussions and meetings with foreign photographers. The Kolga festival counts over 18 years’ existence and annually offers series of photo expositions.

This year the festival presents following exhibitions: Sputnik Photos (Poland) - Lost Territories: Control, Marc Riboud (France) -The Compassionate Eye, Karl Mancini (Italy) - Ni Una Menos, Photo Chronicles by Ivane DvaliI (Georgia), GAMMA Images (Georgia) - Transitional Narrative, Georg Katstaller (Austria) - Intending Georgia, Ostlook Platform (Germany) - How to Deal with History?, 90'x Collective (Georgia) - Stolen Stories, Zeinab Barnovi (Georgia) – History, William Osgood Field – 1929 Field’s trip to Georgia, Young Georgian Photographers, Mariam Amurvelashvili (Georgia) - Take Me Home, Graziano Arici (Italy) - Tales of Venice, Thomas Rabsch (Germany) - All Eyes on Me, National Geographic (Georgia) - Planet or Plastic? Tales of Islands (Kate Mellor, Osamu James Nakagawa, Marc Raeder, Sanne De Wilde).

Marc Riboud

May 4 featured Marc Riboud’s exhibition. The photographer traveled to Georgia in 1992 and depicted the daily life of the citizens. He spent three weeks in Tbilisi, a city he fell in love with. During his stay he saw the mosque, synagogue and Orthodox church coexisting in the center, proving that Georgia is a country where the Orient and the Occident have always mixed and where the three religions live together in peace.

Ivane DvaliI

The National Archives of Georgia is hosting the photo chronicles of Georgian photographer Ivane DvaliI , who was a member of Saqinform, the Soviet Union’s information agency and who was regarded as a master of constructivism. His photographic artwork is a distinguished heritage of that period, reflecting Soviet Georgia’s reality in the 1950s and 70s. Dvali was granted the year’s Alexander Roinashvili Prize as one of the best photographers of Saqinform, an author of constructivism art photography and industrialization, who has contributed significantly to developing photography.

William Osgood Field – 1929 Field’s trip to Georgia

William Osgood Field was an American researcher who traveled to Georgia in 1929. He lived in Zemo (Upper) Svaneti for some months and also visited Khevsureti and Kartli (high mountain regions of Georgia). During the journey, Field took many photos and made documentary movies. All the materials, approximately 200 photographs and almost two-hours of original film, are preserved in the US Congress Library (Washington, D.C.) and US Geographical Society Archive (Milwakee, State Wisconsin). With the permission of the Congress Library and Geographical Society, these digital archival material and his films have been brought to Georgia to present them to the wider audience.

This year, as an exception, at the end of photo festival, Kolga Tbilisi Photo will host Norwegian photographer and member of Magnum Photos Jonas Bendiksen’s photo display The Last Testament.

For more details about the exhibitions, visit the KOLGA TBILISI PHOTO facebook page.

By Lika Chigladze

Photo: Winner of One Shot Jelena_Jankovic_Selfie Culture

09 May 2019 14:43