Red Nostalgia: How the Stalinists Live in Georgia
German photographer Sebastian Hopp captured people in Georgia who still honor the memory of Joseph Stalin.
Born in Germany. Studied photography at University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Dortmund. Received a BA in 2016 and started his master's degree studies.
— Red Nostalgia is an ongoing documentary project about people in post-Soviet countries who still venerate their former leader Joseph Stalin. These images were created in Georgia.
In present-day Georgia two separate generations live side by side: the aging seniors raised in the Soviet era; and today’s youth, who have grown up with heavy influence from Western culture. The more Georgia’s youth is influenced by the West, the more nostalgic older generations become for their Soviet roots. Consequently, they long for a leader like Stalin to restore order to their country.
While almost every city has its own Stalinist movement, one place stands out: the city of Gori, Georgia. Gori is Stalin’s birthplace, and traces of cultish devotion can be found everywhere. Gori is the home of the world’s largest Stalin museum; there the gift shop sells everything from T-shirts to cups adorned with his face. The local grocery store has a two-story Stalin portrait on its outer facade. Devotion to Stalin is alive in the hearts of Georgian citizens. They are proud of their connection to the historic former leader.
As a photographer, my primary interest is in these people who celebrate Stalin despite his dark legacy. I wanted to examine how it is possible for people in Georgia to accept the cruelty of his regime and yet continue to raise their children following Communist traditions. In an effort to understand their worldview I interviewed and photographed Georgians of all ages.