ELKO – Two photographers from Bitumi, Georgia recently visited Elko and other areas in Nevada, having the time of their lives.
Everything they saw and did was new to them. They enjoyed four-pound steaks, traversed a desert state almost four times the size of their homeland, toured a ranch, and spent a whirlwind three-day photographic finale at Burning Man.
Irakli Dzneladze and Giorgi Nakashidze may never fully recover from Nevada-style hospitality but, it seems, they really don’t mind.
“I cannot believe what’s happening these two weeks,” Dzneladze said in a Georgian accent, a language that has five vowels and 28 consonants.
A Georgian sentence resembles a plate of SpaghettiOs; circles and squiggles entwining curiously.
“Everything, it’s new for us; landscapes, people, festival exhibition,” he said.
Georgia is a small country of about four million people abutting the eastern edge of the Black Sea. It was annexed by the Russian Empire and later incorporated into the Soviet Union. Georgia declared sovereignty in 1989 and independence in 1991.
“It really has been a lot,” said Catherine Wines, who helped arrange the artist exchange and accompanied the Georgians to Burning Man.
Dzneladze has an exhibition at Northeastern Nevada Museum.
He described his images from Georgia as “feelings from inside.” The exhibit is titled “Emotions.”
“For me, maybe I don’t have good English but I understand your feelings, I understand everyone’s. It’s same as us,” Dzneladze said. “Love is all you need.”
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The artist exchange came about through a shared interest in photography.
Jonas Dovydenas, a Lithuanian-born photographer, documented rural Nevada in the 1970s. He exhibited at the museum and then donated the entire collection. Dovydenas has remained a friend of the museum throughout the years.
According to Lauren Roovaart, museum executive director, the idea for an exchange came about when Dovydenas decided to exhibit the work at Contemporary Art Space in Bitumi.
Wines, former exhibits coordinator and museum representative, was invited to attend the exhibition in Georgia. It was during that trip that she met Dzneladzi, the gallery director and a professional photographer. Dzneladzi is fascinated with the Burning Man festival and said he would love to see it.
“I told him, if you can get to Nevada I can get you to Burning Man,” Wines said.
Dovydenas and his wife Betsy helped finance the trip, along with other support.
“For us, one of the biggest festival[s] in the world, when you see here it’s so energetic you can’t understand what’s going on,” Dzneladze said.
He meant he was overwhelmed by the event.
“I cannot say more than two words about this big experience,” Dzneladze translated for his friend, Nackashidze. “For sure, he is very happy.”