Arne Piepke 

documentary photographer

Remains of a Soviet Utopia

a project with Ingmar Nolting

Vaziani, an estate of rundown tower blocks surrounded by mountains and broad acres, is situated just a 30-minutes drive off the gates of Georgia's capital, Tbilisi. Vaziani settlement, constructed during the soviet era, served as accommodation for soldiers, stationed in a near-by military base, living there with their families. In the USSR military personnel and politicians were highly privileged. They were provided with adequate housing, received better salaries and were given priority in the distribution of luxury goods and supplies.
Back then, life was celebrated in Vaziani – the population lived in prosperity and the settlement flourished. However, after the downfall of the Soviet Union, the stationed Russian soldiers left the housing estate for home – without them Vaziani’s good days were numbered. The government sold the apartments for around 50 Lari (abt 20 US-Dollars) to people with deprived backgrounds, homeless, or to refugees from Abkhazia, who had to flee from the Russian arms in the Russo-Georgian War. Today the authorities don't care any longer about the settlement and its inhabitants. The first building collapsed in May 2013 - others are not far from experiencing the very same fate.
Problems with water, gas and electrical supplies are huge – many lines and tubings are demolished. The sewage system is leaking, and thus contaminating drinking water by fecal bacteria. The unemployment rate in Vaziani is a staggering 90 percent – and has stuck there for the last couple of years. There are simply no jobs in Vaziani. Although time shattered concrete to dust, the people stay – because there is no alternative, they hope for a future in their home.

“Let us remember this city as it was, because soon there may be nothing left of it — but the memories will remain. Memories to take to our graves. Let’s all tell the younger generation about this beautiful place, where our memories were made.”

“It’s so sad to see my lovely city falling apart. I can’t watch it without tears welling up my eyes. But it’s not our fault, my friends, that our lovely city, which used to bloom and to develop, has now turned into ruins.”

Black and white image source: YouTube;
quotes out of a poem by a former soldier stationed in Vaziani during Soviet era

Arne Piepke
+49 170 4848 723
Member of DOCKS Collective