At a time when many journalists in post-Soviet states have turned their attention to the encroaching threat of Russia, the photographer Dina Oganova has continued to document life in her home country of Georgia. Here’s a selection of photographs from “I am Georgia,” an ongoing project that Oganova began in 2007: http://nyr.kr/1gLqnyH
When someone dies, their memory generally enters a kind of idealized state in the minds of those who loved them. Their flaws are forgiven and forgotten, and the way in which they passed (especially if it was unpleasant) often goes unspoken. Only the sweet stories about the person are retold. On their tombstone generalized niceties are written, often reduced to as little as “Rest in Peace.”
Not so in the town of Săpânţa, Romania, where at the Cimitirul Vesel or “Merry Cemetery,” over 600 wooden crosses bear the life stories, dirty details, and final moments of the bodies they mark. Displayed in bright, cheery pictures and annotated with limericks are the stories of almost everyone who has died of the town of Săpânţa. Illustrated crosses depict soldiers being beheaded and a townsperson being hit by a truck. The epigraphs reveal a surprising level of truth. “Underneath this heavy cross. Lies my mother in law poor… Try not to wake her up. For if she comes back home. She’ll bite my head off.”
What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.
Dalton Ghetti is a 52-year old carpenter from Bridgeport, Connecticut and, without the aid of a magnifying glass, has been carving incredible miniature sculptures for over 25 years. His idea is to bring people’s attention to small things. Most of the pencils Ghetti uses are found on the streets and sidewalks. He turns discarded objects into art.
The artist works by removing specks of graphite at a time and therefore it takes months or sometimes years to complete a sculpture. For Ghetti, sculpting pencils is a hobby and a form of meditation. His pencil carvings are not for sale as he doesn’t do it for money. He sculpts pencils mostly for himself and his art comes from his heart.
Maybe you’re a speed-reader or maybe you’re a psychic who plans their reading lists months ahead of time. Those are the only two possible scenarios by which you may have finished reading all of the books on this year’s Man Booker Long List. And if that’s the case, it’s time to get started on The Guardian’s “Not The Booker” Long List.