Three Colours—Green, Red, Blue: the South Caucasus, from the Industrial Revolution to Soviet Occupation | Book Presentation
The book Three Colours—Green, Red, Blue: the South Caucasus, from the Industrial Revolution to Soviet Occupation - published by Tbilisi Photo Festival - is based on an eponymous exhibition. This volume presents over 100 photographs from the three countries of the South Caucasus—Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia—covering the period from the second half of the 19th century to their invasion and occupation by the Soviet Union. The images included in this volume are just a fraction of a rich and extensive photographic heritage, one that offers a visual history of this region and gives an insight into this important period seen through the revolutionary medium of photography.
The book focus on the period from the 1850s to the 1920s for two reasons. Firstly, from the 1860s onwards, the industrial development of the South Caucasus gained momentum, leading to significant economic, social, cultural and political changes in the region. Secondly, this period witnessed the widespread use and development of photography, a new European invention, in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. As was the case in other European countries, momentous historical events in the South Caucasus, on the periphery of the Russian Empire, were documented using the most contemporary and innovative medium of the time: photography. This photographic heritage therefore offers us a unique window into the history of the South Caucasus during this period.
The unfolding industrial revolution in the South Caucasus contributed to the region’s closer co-operation with its European partners and created new opportunities for political, cultural and economic developments.
The political and economic situation in the South Caucasus changed dramatically following the Russian invasion and annexation of Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1920 and of Georgia in 1921. Reflecting on the photographs from this period raises the question: if not for the Russian invasion and the establishment of Soviet rule, how would the region have developed along the path of industrial revolution?
The book Three Colours—Green, Red, Blue and the exhibition are a first attempt to revisit and reconsider this important period of the region’s history through the lens of its rich photographic heritage.
The photographs of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan that were included in this book and the exhibition were sourced from the collections of the U.S. Library of Congress and the Georgian National Archives. The collections of S. Prokudin-Gorskii and Melikian were obtained from the Library of Congress, whereas some of Dimitri Ermakov’s collection was sourced from the Georgian National Archives. It is worth noting that the materials mentioned above are only a small part of the existing collections held both in the U.S. and Georgia.
This project was funded by the U.S. Embassy to Georgia