A beutiful view to the Caucasus in the after life.
my dynamic gallery.

Text and photo
Eistein Guldseth, 2007
    Wine and glasses on the grave honors the dead.  
in front of my computer in Norway selecting photos and putting together portraits of Georgians on a DVD. One man smiling with his arms around his wife. They are posing with their heads close together like teenagers. I decide to attach a picture of them with grandchildren too. It’s a happy family picture, and could serve for their grandchildren as a nice memory. One picture is of a

woman in her early eighties sitting on a bench smiling. Another woman prefers to look very serious. Death is after all quite a serious matter. You might rightfully ask what on earth I am doing.

Taking pictures at a party in the forest.
Every summer I visit a village up in the mountains and stay there for a while. The first year I was in shock. People lived in very poor conditions, and could hardly manage the daily life. As a newcomer I was immediately invited to a party (link), and met a lot of interesting people which I also photographed. Then in spring 2006 I got a message through friends in Tbilisi from relatives of a young man participating on that party in 2004 that he had suddenly died. Somebody remembered that I had photographed him, and asked if it was possible to have one of the photos for his gravestone since there were no other pictures of him to be found. I sent a copy, and my friends in Tbilisi had it printed out for his stone.

Adelinas gravestone.
Then in the summer 2006 I arrived in the village on vacation, and met his aunt which showed me his gravestone with his picture on. I walked around inside the village cemetery to look at the other graves as well. I found stones with old “communist styled” photos, pictures of children who had died tragically, couples depicted on gravestones where the woman was still alive as the case was with Adelina and her gravestone:
A long seen friend of Adelina decided to visit the graveyard befor paying a long due visit to Adeline, and there right in front of her she saw Adelinas picture on a grave together with her housband. Ut was a shock, and the woman was very much upset that she hadn’t been notified about her dear friends death. She started asking in the village, and soon found out that Adelina just had struck a great deal on a stone with the undertaker. Very absurd, but couples got a discount if they ordered the stone with pictures of both after one of them had died. Most of those left alone thought their time was soon to come after their beloved husband or wife had died. That didn’t always happen, so the pictures of the living spouse could be very much outdated

A new photographer in town!
I continued my photographing in 2006 without thinking of gravestones, and asked many of the inhabitants to pose for me. I just enjoyed photographing them and having a chat, get a good story, and try to learn about their life before and after Communism. So as a thank you to them for being patient, I decided to bring some copies of their portraits in 2007. That resulted in a rather strange turn of events: The women showed their copies to each other and their friends in the village. And then widows and couples in need of pictures for their future gravestone started to send very discrete inquiries to my family, asking if there was any possibilities of being photographed by the Norwegian. That resulted in me running around with my camera in the village, taking pictures of men and women preparing for the cemetery. I suddenly realized that there was a huge demand for photos for gravestones. Very few could afford photos of themselves, and for most parts they didn’t really suit the reality as they were taken 15-20 years ago, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when they still had money to pay for photography. Also the old Jew that used to take those photos quit early in the early nineties, probably due to a failing market.

Visit my dynamic gallery one day in the future.
So if you are visiting a small village in Racha, why not visit the cemetery. You will gradually find my official exhibition of portraits of great Georgians on one of them. But I really hope the pictures won’t appear during the next few years
, as I hope to spend more time with thees great people.
The old Soviet style pictures.


Memories of a tragedy.

Adelinas "bargain" gravestone.

Taking pictures...