There is an old legend the Abkhaz people like to tell to the visitors: when God gave each nation its place under the sun, the Abkhaz was too busy taking care of his guests so he came in late and there was no land left for him. But God remembered the great hospitality of the Abkhaz, so he gifted him the only place left where God himself wanted to live – the small region on the shores of the Black Sea.
Unfortunately, the real life is only a distorted reflection of this legend. Abkhazia, once one of the most beloved touristic regions of the Russian Empire and later of the Soviet Union, is really a lost place on the world map. Officially still a part of Georgia, separated after the civil war of 1992, it’s a state recognized only by Russia and just a couple of other countries. A hostage of the foreign policy of its giant northern neighbor and its imperialistic ambitions, Abkhazia is on a list of other Russian puppet states, which includes another Georgian region of South Ossetia, the Transnistria region in Moldavia or the recent self-proclaimed DNR and LNR states of Donetsk and Luhansk respectively in Ukraine.
The small stripe of land between the sea and mighty mountains of Caucasus, only a fifth of the size of the Netherlands, it is long forgotten by the global media circus as well as by international politics. Without any real industry, infrastructure or educational power it survives on occasional nostalgic tourism from ex-USSR citizens, foreign Abkhaz diaspora, and scarce Russian alimony.
The story “Abkhazia” is a portrait of the country that is caught in a two-decade-long sleep without any signs of waking up in sight. It researches the everyday life of people who try to exist within this uncertainty, within a system that doesn’t have a future and doesn’t seek one.


About the photographer
I’m Ksenia Kuleshova, a Russian photographer based both in Germany and Russia.
I graduated from Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University) with a degree in public relations. After winning a Russian PR competition, I worked on the agency side for several years but then decided to move to Germany and pursue photography. I’ve completed Bachelor in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover by Prof. Rolf Nobel.
In 2012 I was awarded a scholarship at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German political foundation. It’s a great honor for me and I’m thankful for all the talented and outstanding people who I got a chance to meet through this program. In 2017 I was selected to be a representative for all international scholarship recipients at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
My work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Lens blog, DIE ZEIT, ZEIT leo, among others.
I’m the winner of PDN Photo Annual Prize 2017 (Student category), VG-Bild Scholarship recipient, exhibiting Artist at Belfast Photo Festival 2017 and Schömberg Photo Festival 2017.
I’m currently enrolled in the master’s program “Photographic Studies” at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Dortmund.
I am always inspired by the strength of people’s characters and a passion for life, love, the aesthetics of beauty, art and traveling. I am always open to new experiences, enjoy every moment of my life, and try to never stop improving personally and professionally. I believe in the power of strong wishes and working on your dreams. The progress is important for me, but even more significant is harmony.
Website: www.kuleshova.de
Abkhazia, Sukhum, 17/05/2016. The National Dance Ensemble “Caucasus” before a performance.



bkhazia, Sukhum, 03/01/2016.It has been almost 8 years since the last big snowfall in Sukhum. Everybody was outside making a “snowman”, playing snowballs or just walking through the snow. The girl on the picture is making a part of a big snowman.



Abkhazia, Sukhum, 11/05/2016 Aditsa Tsikytania, a socialite, fashion blogger, and lawyer in her living room.



Abkhazia, Sukhum, 26/01/2016. A lesson at the Military Academy in Sukhum.



Abkhazia, Bzyb Village, 14/05/2016. On my way to the lake Ritsa I passed through the Village Bzyb and noticed the sign “Zoo at home”. An unattached lion licking his lips and a woman with a child – that what I saw when I opened the door. “Don’t worry, the lion has just eaten!” – told me the man, the owner of this zoo. By paying small entrance fee for the animals feed you can also see some other animals and birds.

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