History & Hard Labour

The country of Georgia has witnessed drastic changes through the ages and is still experiencing social, political and architectural transition. 

 

A quickly ‘modernizing’ country with an ancient and proud culture, Georgia is unique and diverse.

 

The region however has an industrial history of producing metals, machinery, wine, chemicals and textiles. Particularly Soviet-era industrial landmarks are still visible throughout the country, albeit disappearing quickly as the country erases their Soviet past, a time in which many Georgians consider to be under occupation.

 

From 1936 to 1991 heavy industries thrived and Georgia was one of the most prosperous states in the Soviet Union.

 

When the USSR collapsed, aggressive privatization left most of the state-run factories abandoned or demolished.

 

It is claimed that scrap metal was the country’s leading export commodity during the years after independence from the USSR.

 

Many of these factories are in ruin today as the economy has diversified, but a few continue to operate or the buildings have been repurposed by local people.

 

We accessed some of the country's most striking abandoned sites and found a fascinating collision of the past and present. Many places seem to be frozen in time, it’s as if the machines have suddenly stopped working and as if the workers left from one day to the next.

 

Some question the beauty and value of these places, as they come with a history that many, especially Georgians, find to be very problematic. 

 

However when you look at them as archeological relics, as indicators of a unique past in place and time, there’s an interest that draws us to document them before they disappear forever.

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Interior of an auto repair garage near Zestafoni.

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Part of a sculpture in an abandoned battery factory.

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georgia-soviet-industrial-photography-si

Inside of an abandoned wine laboratory near Kutaisi.

An old locomotive train at the Black Sea port town of Poti.

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Top: Former winery used as storage for car parts and shelter for livestock. 

Bottom: Stained glass windows in old post office and train car in former train station.

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Mass housing 'Zghvisubani Block' in the outskirts of Tbilisi.

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Spare parts and machinery in the village of Shorapani. 

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Zestafoni Ferroalloy Plant, still operating 24 hours a day, seen from above.

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Tires in the factory town of Rustavi and a canister of liquid in a former battery plant.

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Hundreds of trucks wait to cross the Georgia / Russia border through the caucasus mountains.

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Monument of scientist Giorgi Nikoladze who is considered to be the godfather of Georgian industry.

Living in the Sanatoriums

Radisha, 82 years old

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A man refurbishes the 1979 'Monument to Hero Sailors of the USSR' near Poti.

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A trucker passing through the country from Turkey takes a lunch break on a stop near Zestafoni.

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georgia-soviet-industrial-photography-si

An isolated farmhouse in the hills and a pastoral scene depicting the harvest.

Wall mural in an educational facility where students made wood carvings and sculpture.

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Vehicle fluids for sale at the roadside and a stained glass window in an abandoned winery.

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A monument to the deceased at a smelting facility in the Imereti region.

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georgia-soviet-industrial-photography-si

A Soviet mosaic and bottles of engine oil for sale on the roadside.

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A metal worker stands outside of a Soviet-era electric technical plant called 'Electroelementi'.

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An Imereti villager uses a decommissioned factory and its machines as his personal workshop.

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A date marker at the gates of a power facility and a sculpture from the USSR near Kobuleti.

A decommissioned Ikarus 256 bus (manufactured between the years 1977-1989) in a train repair lot.

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georgia-soviet-industrial-photography-si

Soviet-era housing stands below new residential developments, and a mosaic of Greek mythology.

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