The "Windows" of the photographer Otto Lakoba
In commemoration of Anzor Agumaa of Sukhum
At turn of the XIX and XX centuries European and American art got engulfed by the powerful wave of the new style called “modern”.
After a long time of eclecticism, arrival of this style was finally met with great enthusiasm. Architects, artists and craftsman immediately appreciated its creative abilities and focus on the future. Modern has strived to cover every possible aspect in it, and majority perceived it is “an art cornerstone of European culture”. Buildings, furniture, interior, fireplaces, street lights, crockery, mosaic floors, wallpapers, stained-glass windows and many more, everything was created in a uniform style. Most coherently modern was developed in architecture. Declining straight lines in favor of more natural ones, attention to the new technologies, usage of glass and metal. Metal figures were obtaining unusual forms, such as forms of flowers and plants. Modern appeared almost simultaneously in different corners of the world bud obtained different names. In Britain – Modern style, in France – “Art Nouveau”, in Germany “Jugendstil”, in Austria “The Secessionist style”, in Italy – “Stile Liberty”, in Spain – “Modernisme” and in USA - “Tiffany”.
To the Russian part of Caucuses, modern had chosen the shortest path – through the Black Sea. In the beginning of the XX century Sukhumi was a “free city” (porto franco). Construction of luxurious buildings was booming, banks and shipping companies are opening its branches; many insurance companies are coming to the city as well as one of the biggest Russian Tabaco companies “Laferm”. Russian nobility were buying and building new villas. Doctors were founding sanatoriums and hospitals for patients with lung diseases. Everything is functioning well: the post office, Indian-European telegraph, and the sea port. New hotels appear featuring sophisticated names: Metropol, San Remo, Oriental, Russia, France, Imperial, Florida, Europe and more. New schools and gymnasiums established, and new theaters opened. Various travelers, artists, poets are visiting Abkhazia. In Old Gagras duke Oldenburgskiy establishes climate station, baths, “The Hotel of Seasons” and luxurious palace with lovely park and fountains. New era demands new style and Art Nouveau organically blends in the city landscape of Abkhazian Black Sea coast.
Author is not aiming to open a definition of “modern” in details. He tries to recreate feelings, emotions and spirit of the era in his photography. He tries to remind of the peoples’ shadows in those buildings, interiors and clothes details, city esthetics of which is amazing and of everything else that is lost today. Modern is the best description, it is a pun, because it has “new” elements in old or, maybe “old” that obtained a second life in new? There is no refined representation of the past. Author is giving a moment to dive in the past and see the beauty of the past from the retrospective of the present reality. That is why elements of clothes that models are wearing are not exact copies of the modern era, and some of them do not have any connection with those times at all. Did the experiment with a hint on history worked out? You are the judge! Author can only look ahead with hope on bright future of his motherland.
The exposition contains photos with the following buildings: House of Aloiza, Country House of Dal’, Arzamas Resort, Country House of the Colonel Averiyev, Villa Chemi, Ksandopulo Brothers House, hotel “Russia”, hotel “Ellada”, Country House Ninua, Duke Oldenburg’s Palace, Real Specialized school (gymnasium), Smetskiy Sanatorium.
Author sincerely thanks Maiana Tsvizhba and Sabina Ahba without whom it would be impossible to create and represent an image of the history. Author also thanks artist Vitaliy Katsuba, Yuliya Solovyeva, photographer Konstantin Gretsov, Daur Mindzhiya, doctor Benedict Zhdanov, Daur Bagateliya, Tamara Grigoryeva, Valentina Cholokyan, Beslan Hashba, Aleksandra Sergeyeva, Marianna Kotova, Anna Kalaydjan, Mikhail Alkhazov and all other people of Sukhum who are not indifferent to the image of our city.