L.A.F, or ‘Laughter and Forgetting’ is a group of International Photographers whose long-term vision is to play host to an array of post-totalitarian nations by implementing a photoblog and curating exhibits in each additional country it visits and documents. As the number of countries increases, so will the topics, allowing the photographers, both native and foreign, to express their own views of the issues at hand through their individual work. The goal is to establish a photographic community without nationalistic borders by creating an easily accessible platform for communication and encouraging a continued dialogue between the photographers. We also aim to construct a visual forum that will display how each post-totalitarian nation undergoes its own trials and tribulations in the hopes of constructing a democracy.
1. What are the issues\concerns you have been consistently addressing within your artwork?
• To create a Photoblog that documents life in Georgia from the Georgian photographers’ point of view. • To encourage International photographers who have documented the IDP situation in Georgia since 2008 to submit their work. • To curate a Georgian IDP exhibit from the Photoblog at the Forum 2000 Human Rights Conference in Prague that will bring together the past L.A.F. photographers’ work with the featured work from post Soviet Georgia.
2. Do you classify your art as being one thing more than the other e.g. photography, film, painting, sculpture, music or installation and do you see an expansion into other mediums in the future?
As of now, L.A.F. has been primarily focused on photographers and filmmakers. The following photographers were involved in the L.A.F. project this past year:
Mariam Amurvelashvili Temo Bardzimashvili Leli Blagonravova Gega Chumburidze Elene Damenia Nanka Dolidze Anka Gujabidze Heinrich Holtgreve Marika Kochiashvili Yuri Mechitov Ana Nijaradze Irina Popova Tako Robakidze Daro Sulakauri
3. When you think about making new work do you always consider applying a degree of historical content or do the works weigh more heavily towards a more personal investigation? AND 4. When you look back through this body of work do you see any answers unfolding within this investigation?
The L.A.F Project has turned its attention towards post-Soviet Georgia to document the nation as it struggles to become a democracy. Although claiming its independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union, Georgia has gone through its share of strifes. Both the early 90s and 2008 saw civil conflicts in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, where separatist groups supported by Russia claimed de facto independance and expelled some 270,000 Georgians to become Internally Displaced People (IDPs) throughout the country. While the Rose Revolution of 2003 was the catalyst for Saakashvili to be elected President after an upheaval over corrupt elections and fraud, the political system remains in transition with frequent adjustments to the balance of power. Freedom House recognizes Georgia as “partly free”, due to human rights issues, questions of media freedom and further doubts of political and civil liberties.
The L.A.F Project has chosen to work with Georgia due to it being a democracy “in progress.” Through exhibits and an online Photoblog, Georgian photographers will be able to document life and address issues in their society, while bringing these concerns to the attention of the rest of the world.The L.A.F Project will have a different focal theme each year in order to bring to light the varied obstacles that exist in Georgia’s democratic aspirations. This is why the first theme of L.A.F in Georgia will be centered around the Internally Displaced People who, although have been aided by the government and international NGOs, are still struggling with social and economic displacement due to civil strife resulting within Georgia since it gained its independence from Soviet rule.
IDPs in Georgia are still very much in need of attention as they struggle with inadequate housing, poor educational standards, sparse access to health care and a lack of socio- economic integration back into the community. As the nation of Georgia is eager to reinvent itself as a democracy, the L.A.F. Project seeks to expose the world to the harsh realities faced by Internally Displaced People.