Kavkaz / druk 1

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"For several years I had tried everything possible to flee the small Bavarian town I grew up in, eventually ending up in Moscow at the age of twenty. After spending more than a year there trying, unsuccessfully, to get my act together as a photographer - studying Russian and photographing pretty much everything I came across without a specific story or clue - I discovered the Caucasus. It was love at first sight.

In the spring of 1993, I decided to try to live in Tbilisi for a few months before going to university at the end of the summer. It was in this time I began to discover the cultures of the Caucasus, without preconceptions. The hospitality of the people, the beauty of the languages, the incredibly fast changes in the post-Soviet period, the wars and conflicts, bravery and cruelty... This place of such extremes could provoke such extreme emotions. I became fascinated and overwhelmed by the region. I meant to stay for only a few months and ended up staying for several years. 'The Caucasus' became my story, and not just any story. In the years to come I would try to photograph everything and learn as much as I could about the place. Photography was my reason but also my excuse to live it, to experience and be part of the story-to be there, to be present in that place at that specific instant in history.

The intensity of the war in Chechnya and the relatively sweet life in Tbilisi were like an addiction. Not really having any other opportunities or place to go back to, it took until 1998 for me to be able to leave this place behind. To this day, everything I do since being there seems slightly pale and distanced. Having discovered the importance of the 'Caucasus Experience' in 19th century romantic Russian literature, I finally did put together a book with my pictures from these years.

In the end, Bavaria is still my home, my origins, where I come from. But the Caucasus is where I feel like I grew up and know I will always keep returning to."

Thomas Dworzak

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