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OLGA INGURAZOVA

Russia
Wolf Story

 

When I was working in the Caucasus in 2014-2017 I met Wolf. One day I was carried to the local hospital by an unknown man. In a few days after an urgent operation, he came to check on me. I barely saved the abdominal bleeding and needed a place to recover - he offered me to stay at his house till I can walk away afoot. And I took this leap of faith by trusting a stranger.

He calls himself Wolf, a nickname he was given — the symbol of a warrior in a mythology of Caucasus. Wolf’s grandfather was born in a big muslim peasant family in Turkey. In search of a better life he crossed the Black Sea and settled down here, in Abkhazia - the land that has become disputed and unrecognized country today. He found a wife and set up a household. Wolf’s childhood and youth — spent growing up in a large farming family in a prosperous subtropical oasis — was a happy one. When the national civil war broke out, he was 22. He killed a man for the first time, buried a half of his family, drugged himself for years. In the last days of the war, he survived a land-mine blast that left him scarred and deaf. Post-conflict isolation embittered people and Wolf retreated to the mountains to live a life of self-imposed exile. Until I came.

Months of isolated life aligned us. When I started to walk again he taught me his routine. Everyday hard work on the homestead became our common normalcy. I was coming down from the mountain to find the places and people from his tales, who to my surprise appeared to be real. Their stories in my reportages and exhibitions were coming out in the different parts of the world as a work of an diligent freelancer. But my own life was already going by the rules of my new imaginary refuge.

I continue to document Wolf's life coming back and forth for three years. His connection to his roots, the nature around him, his mountain, his memories and his decision to stay connected to the land he was born.

Biography: Olga Ingurazova is a Russian-born award-winning photographer, international visual journalist and educator (born in 1985). She was awarded, exhibited and published internationally. In 2015 Olga was named to the shortlist of”30 under 30” emerging talents by Magnum Photos and was listed as one of Photo Boite’s “30 under 30 women photographers” to watch. Olga collaborated with Trained in the field of journalism Olga became a post-war photographer and used her investigations to act in processes of peaceful post-conflict recovery. For six years she was documenting disputed regions and participated in dialogue programs in the Post-Soviet world and the Caucasus providing the coverage in the international media, holding campus activities and training local mass media stuff. Olga’s award-winning photo stories ”Scars of Independence” and ”Wolf Story” were published as a part of a book series "War Is Only Half the Story". In 2016 the Guardian selected Ingurazova as one of the ” Ten Best Photographers Documenting Post-Soviet and East Europe”.