Abkhazia, Sukhum, 17/05/2016. The National Dance Ensemble „Caucasus„ before a performance. ©Ksenia Kuleshova


Ksenia Kuleshova

 2016-2021 — Abkhazia, Georgia

About this series

There is an old legend the Abkhaz people like to tell the visitors: when God gave each nation its place under the sun, the Abkhaz was too busy taking care of his guests so he came in late and there was no land left for him. But God remembered the great hospitality of the Abkhaz, so he gifted him the only place left where God himself wanted to live – the small region on the shores of the Black Sea.
Unfortunately, the real-life is only a distorted reflection of this legend. Abkhazia, once one of the most beloved touristic regions of the Russian Empire and later of the Soviet Union, is really a lost place on the world map. Officially a part of Georgia, separated after the civil war of 1992, it’s a state recognized only by Russia and just a couple of other countries.
The small stripe of land between the sea and mighty mountains of the Caucasus, only a fifth of the size of the Netherlands, is long forgotten by the global media circus as well as by international politics. Without any real industry, infrastructure, or educational power it survives on occasional nostalgic tourism from ex-USSR citizens, foreign Abkhaz diaspora, and scarce Russian alimony.
The story „Abkhazia“ is a portrait of the region that is caught in a two-decade-long sleep without any signs of waking up in sight. It researches the everyday life of people who try to exist within this uncertainty, within a system that doesn’t have a future and doesn’t seek one.

Abkhazia, Bzyb Village, 14/05/2016. On my way to the lake Ritsa, I passed through the Village Bzyb and noticed the sign "Zoo at home". An unattached lion licking his lips and a woman with a child - that what I saw when I opened the door. "Don't worry, the lion has just eaten!" - told me the man, the owner of this zoo. By paying a small entrance fee for the animals feed you can also see some other animals and birds. ©Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Kamani village, 19/01/2016. Hegumen Ignatiy (Kiut) was standing in the cold water more than 20 minutes while people dipped into the sacred water in accordance with Christian traditions. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Sukhum, 03/01/2016.It has been almost 8 years since the last big snowfall in Sukhum. Everybody was outside making a "snowman", playing snowballs or just walking through the snow. The girl on the picture is making a part of a big snowman. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Sukhum, 26/01/2016. A lesson at the Military Academy in Sukhum. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Sukhum, 11/05/2016 Aditsa Tsikytania, a socialite, fashion blogger, and lawyer in her living room. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Pskhu, 05/09/2015.The road to the village Pskhu. In the summer of 1942, Wehrmacht occupied the village. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Kyndyg,18/07/2018. The women are enjoying the hydro-massage. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Eshera, 07/07/2017. Potatoes are stored on a floor in order for them to stay dry. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Ldzaa village, 17/01/2016. The funeral of Otar Hunzaria, one of the most famous Abkhazian folk artist and composer. © Ksenia Kuleshova
Abkhazia, Sukhum, 04/07/2017. Children always spend their free time on the beach. © Ksenia Kuleshova

Photographer: Ksenia Kulesshova
Nationality: Russian
Based in: Germany, Belgium
Website: www.kuleshova.de
Instagram: @ksukuleshova

Ksenia Kuleshova is a documentary photographer and Canon Ambassador based in Germany, Belgium, and her native Russia where she’s currently working on a long-term project about the LGBTQ+ community. She was the recipient of the 2020 W. Eugene Smith Student Grant, was a participant in the 2018 Joop Swart Masterclass, and her work has been exhibited and published internationally, including in The New York Times, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, DIE ZEIT, and GEO France, among others.

Ksenia was featured in the British Journal of Photography as one of 31 women to watch out for (2018), 20 rising Female Photojournalists (Artsy, 2019), “The 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch 2022”. She has degrees in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hanover, Germany (Bachelor), and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Dortmund, Germany (Master).