Pictura Gallery

Critical Mass Gems | Hossein Fardinfard

October 25, 2022

I was blown away by Hossein Fardinfard’s project in the 2022 Critical Mass roundup. A refugee crisis garners attention in the year’s news cycle, but three decades later, who sees the lives of those who have been displaced? In Fardinfard’s Blackout, the enduring aftermath of Soviet conflict, dysfunctional government, and exile is made visible in the form of each displaced person living in the abandoned sanatoriums in the town of Tskaltubo, Georgia. People have made new dwellings in the open rooms, but even the most settled here are bereft of home.

Igor is an army veteran who lives alone in a tiny old room in the Tbilisi sanatorium while he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.” He wears a suit jacket and is hauntingly framed in the broken doorway at the edge of a courtyard of past grandeur. The distance across the yard feels like an untraversable chasm of three decades, like we’d need to wind back the conflict and the disease to reach him.

The scenes in Tskaltubo feel almost unreal, but the way they are documented is subtle and honest, and their reality becomes undeniable. Fardinfard gives his subjects agency, without covering up their circumstances. The proportion of each figure to the environment keeps the people and their situation in equal view, so we can’t separate them. The former luxury of the sanatoriums and the current state of decrepitude is striking. What was substantial and healing is now in shambles. I think of the Ukrainians who are gearing up to weather the winter in their battered homes and windowless rooms, and I marvel at human endurance in conflict and hardship.

Check out Hossein’s site for an excellent short history of the situation, and more on the people in this project. 

-Lisa Woodward

Blackout 3
Blackout 4
Blackout 7
Blackout 8
Blackout 6
Blackout 9
Blackout 10
Blackout 1