Project Description

In the past 40 years, not­hing has chan­ged in Chia­tura. Just like human beings die when they are old, also the infra­struc­ture of our city is dying. We need a lot of money to change the sys­tem — but only the govern­ment can pro­vide it. In autumn, our city will start a com­plete reha­bi­li­ta­tion and repair of the whole sys­tem.“

- Malk­hazi Mik­he­l­idze, direc­tor of the water com­pany of Chia­tura

Shaking. Stum­bling. The bus rolls with scree­ching tyres through the land­scape. In the dis­tance, high up the hills, you can see cable cars. Chia­tura. The land­scape melts slowly with the stone and con­crete of the city. The trees recede; the hou­ses increase.

The bus stops. Arri­ves. The dusty air burns in the eyes, the lungs whistle — pro­tes­ting. The people are hec­tic here. A few young people; too many old people.

Along the street, which leads to the mar­ket, the hou­ses attract atten­tion with their bro­ken fronts. They are like the mir­ror of the people of the city; grey, weak, old. Many hou­ses are deser­ted and run-down. The streets are des­troyed. The people are shat­te­red. Nobody feels res­pon­si­ble. The city is neglec­ted. The young are lea­ving — the old are stay­ing. Time is run­ning. Tic. Tac. Tic. Tac. Time to wake up.

Chia­tura has to deve­lop; — stand­still.
The vivid­ness of the mar­ket is an illu­sion; — stand­still.
More work. More com­mit­ment. More life; — stand­still.


  • 2 A School of Chia­tura.
  • 3 The city hall of Chia­tura.
  • 6 Aban­do­ned hou­ses
  • 8 Resi­dents help a man with his car.

The earth is shaking. The exca­va­tor bites force­fully into the rock of the huge pit for mining man­ga­nese.  A man, who is in the pit, makes arbi­trary-see­ming gestu­res in the direc­tion of the exca­va­tor dri­ver. Small and insi­gni­fi­cant is his appearance com­pa­red to the gigan­tic mine, which seems to des­troy every indi­vi­dual. Words. Gestu­res. Loud, but not loud enough; Big, but not big enough. The small man has no chance against the bel­lo­wing of the machi­nes.

The sun is at its zenith. The engi­nes fall silent. The teeth of the exca­va­tor pause in the rock. Lunch break. The men leave the machi­nes, climb out of the pit and sit down in the shade. The ground is hot, dusty. “We just have to carry tons of man­ga­nese to the loa­ding sta­tion“, explains the old man, who see­med to be small and lost in the pit. Sweat trick­les from his forehead. He drips a little bit of water out of the pla­s­tic bottle in his hands and cleans them. Bloody cracks, scars and blis­ters are part of his hands. “It’s a tough job. We don’t earn a lot of money. The people are ung­ra­te­ful. Destruc­tive is the mine. Soon the next buil­ding will col­lapse because of the impli­ca­tion of the mining. Destruc­tive is the mine. We are col­lap­sing, too. Phy­si­cally, men­tally. We are only a shadow of our for­mer self. Seven days a week. Day for day. Year for year. The city is living on mining. It’s living on destruc­tion. It’s living on dying.“

          In 2016 the people in Chia­tura cele­brate the 130. anni­versary of the man­ga­nese mine.

The men get back to work. A few go to the machi­nes in the pit. The others load sacks of man­ga­nese on their backs. Puf­fing, stum­bling and gasping for bre­ath, they set off. The heat is overw­hel­ming. The tired bodies only move for­ward slowly. The old workers are a mise­ra­ble sight. Step left. Step right. A tired, hope­l­ess rou­tine in a daily life, a life, which once was full of hope. Step left. Step right. Uphill. Down­hill.

How will the future look like? It’s in the hands of the next gene­ra­tion. They have to take over the reins of the mine. Thin­king. Plan­ning. Acting. The city must live. It has to live to exist; And it must not live to die.

Step left. Step right.
The machi­nes pound in the dis­tance.


  • 1 Mine workers
  • 2 Bez­hani Breg­vadze and his wife in front of their des­troyed house, dama­ged by the mines.
  • 3 The des­troyed house.
  • 4 Tina­tin Bara­badze in her bedroom. The wall has cracks in it because of the mine.
  • 5 Tina­tin Barabadze’s life in the des­troyed house.

The metal under the feet vibra­tes. The cabin crawls up along the cable. Hig­her and hig­her. A warm wind strokes the face of the pas­sen­ger. The cable car gains height with ease. Hig­her and hig­her. Under the bot­tom of the cabin, Chia­tura beco­mes smal­ler; The people on the street move like ants. The hec­tic city gets more plea­s­ant the more it loses size; the more the haras­sed people lose import­ance.

The time seems to stand still. The noise of the streets falls silent. Except for the soot­hing ratt­ling of the cog which car­ries the cable car along, it is silent; com­for­ta­bly silent.

The city beco­mes smal­ler. And smal­ler. Man gets big­ger and big­ger. Remo­ved from con­crete and dirt, in har­mony with nature. Not weak any­more; not insi­gni­fi­cant any­more. Side by side with free­dom he is loo­king at the city which see­med to be so import­ant. Inde­pen­dent, power­ful, free.

The cable car stops, the jour­ney of thoughts is over. The feet leave the ground of metal. High up. The gaze wan­ders over the val­ley, over the city. For a moment he is free like a bird. For a moment, until the cabin takes him back into the tris­tesse  of his own exis­tence.

Free like a bird.


A drop, a second, a third. With luck it’s enough to fill the small tub of pla­s­tic. Too much water has been con­su­med for the day; only tomor­row new water will come out of the tap. A drop. And ano­ther.
In Chia­tura prio­ri­ties have to be set. Take a shower or flush? A ques­tion, which belongs to the daily life of the people of the city.

Along the street on the moun­tain you meet a lot of old people. The sun is shi­ning. Hot, dry air sur­ro­unds the tired people. See­king com­fort, they are pres­sing their hands against the stony fronts of the bro­ken hou­ses. Thirsty. Weak. The small shop at the end of the street, refuge of many, opens early in the morning. Water is sold in pla­s­tic bott­les. With or without gas, in large or in small bott­les. The water is gone fast — and the people are still thirsty.

          A resi­dent in front of a bro­ken water­pipe in the ground.

The little sales­wo­man, an old lady, grabs for a woo­den stool and goes out­s­ide. The skin is pal­lid — mar­ked by time. Her eyes are deep in their sockets. She looks at us. Sad­ness and hope­l­ess­ness in her eyes. “You know“, she starts, picking the pie­ces of fluff out of her flower skirt with her shaking hands.
Actually we don’t have to live like that. If there would be more young people here, who would take care about the water sup­ply, ever­y­body in Chia­tura could take a sub­stan­tial bath. Even simul­ta­neously! But the city is old. The people are old. Old and tired.“ She wipes the sweat off her forehead and strokes her grey, strawy hair behind the ear. She takes her stool into the shade. A weak, frail body. Like a but­ter­fly with a slow beat of its wings, which sets out on one’s final jour­ney.

On the side of the road the ground is bro­ken. Dama­ged pipes are pop­ping up and the water is drip­ping con­stantly out on the dirty, dusty road. The city is full of such open water pipes. The river Qwirila flows through the heart of Chia­tura; vivid and power­ful. A pre­tence, an illu­sion, a para­dox of this wret­ched, peris­hing city.

A drop, a second, a third. It’s a mat­ter of time, — four, five, six, until the water for the city — seven, eight, nine, is gone for today.

Ten, ele­ven, — .


  • 1 A water sys­tem in Chia­tura.
  • 3 Malk­hazi Mik­he­l­idze, direc­tor of the water com­pany of Chia­tura.

Story by Tina Glom­bik, Chris­tine Simon, Giorgi Getia­sh­vili and Giga Chir­gazde.