Saturday, March 7, 2009

Louisa Summer

Louisa Marie Summer
MFA Photography

Swan Lake

This photograph was captured at the play “Swan Lake” from Pyotr Tchaikovsky at the Tbilisi Z. Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre in the Republic of Georgia. For this historical event on 19 April, 2007 many children came with their families to witness local superstar Nina Ananiashvili’s return to the stage after a two-year absence.
After the play, when everybody was leaving, the crowd disbanded and for a brief moment this quaint and silent scenery opened up. A stunning and beautifully dressed innocent little girl sheltered by her androgynous looking mother, lit in soft light. The intimate, protective gesture of the woman holding the girl’s shoulder with a large masculine hand and a wired face creates a strong contrast to the girl’s expression lost in reverie with a twinkle of childlike curiosity. Both, the mother and the daughter are aware of being photographed, although, I am consciously detached. In shooting this image my intention was both aesthetic and empathetic. The image is presented as taken and I would like to leave the inherent beauty of the scene to the interpretation of the observer.

Artist Statement

As a photographer, I believe pictures can tell stories without words, having the power to touch people in an instant. I love photojournalistic work and I am always eager to learn about and to identify other country’s people, and how they mirror its history, culture, and social and political situation. In this regard, I was very much concerned and interested in the Republic of Georgia. I spent time there during April and May 2007. The Caucasian Republic lies at the Black Sea and is located at the dividing line between Europe and Asia. Georgia has been a representative democracy since 1991 but faces severe problems with its neighbor Russia and its separatist regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I documented the multi-faceted lifestyle of contemporary youth in the Republic of Georgia. These young people are growing up in an area conflicted between post-soviet stagnation and an influx of current pro-Western government and economy. The youth in Georgia are strongly influenced by religion and traditional values like honesty, pride, family, and hospitality. At the same time they are chasing modern status symbols like cars, fashion, and glamour. In Georgia I met the challenge of developing and completing a project under extreme conditions. The result of that effort was a book of 125 photographs depicting the faces, gestures, landscape, infrastructure and architecture of an emergent democracy, in a country with deep roots in the Caucasus.
Capturing magical moments requires an attentive and sensitive approach, being close to the individuals, understanding their situation and uniqueness, and respecting each other. It is very important to me that people in front of my camera are not self-conscious. I want to communicate the people’s life stories, their experiences and emotions, so that the observer gets an impression, a feeling about what it means to be a young person in the Republic of Georgia today.

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