Third Place

The Land of Soul

Ksenia Ivanova


The Land of Soul looks at the life in the mountain mining villages of the Tkuarchal region of Abkhazia, once thriving, but never fully recovered after the siege during the 1992-1993 Georgian-Abkhaz war. This is an exploration of the post-war trauma, a search for the traces of war imprinted in people’s bodies and in the façades of the surviving buildings. The images of the semi-deserted places become a metaphor for the country itself: Abkhazia—The Land of Soul—still remains a ghost state on the world map. Its autonomy is recognized by a handful of countries, including Russia, on which Abkhazia is economically and politically dependent. The trauma of war, the search for identity during the post-Soviet era, the complex relations between nature and urban spaces—all this continues to define its current context. Longing for a lost past and an uncertain future is correlated here with the painstaking work to maintain a space for life among the ruins. The traces of war permeate it and the subtropical forest seeks to completely absorb it, but as long as people for various reasons have not left their homes, it will be something more than just a spot on the map, frozen in tension of the conflict which is stopped but not resolved.

Ksenia Ivanova is a documentary photographer from Russia, based in Saint-Petersburg. In the photography her main interest is focused on the problem of cultural identity and social issues. She prefers to delve deeply into topics, to build trusting relationships with characters and to work on long-term projects. Ksenia works with The New York Times, The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, GEO etc. For the last few years, she has been working regularly with the online charity Russian magazine Takie Dela.

[ ISSUE REPORTING PICTURE STORY ] A long-term project on a single topic. It could focus on science, news, politics or any number of topics, ranging from coverage of a single person to an entire community. The project must convey a deep understanding of the subject. Each submission consists of 10 to 40 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 5 submissions. The images must be taken in 2019 or 2020. Stories on COVID-19 can be entered in this category but if you have already entered something in the COVID PICTURE STORY category, you should avoid submitting the same story to this category.

Judges for Issue Reporting Picture Story
Abir Abdullah
Nariman El Mofty
Bryan van der Beek
Shiho Fukada
Wonsuk Choi