The Georgian village of Sno is located high in the Greater Caucasian Mountains, a few kilometers off the mainstay Military Highway and near the border with Russia. Unlike the nearby town of Stepantsminda, with its strategic location beneath the renown Gergeti Trinity Church, its central square filled with Russian 4-wheel vehicles to manhandle the adventurous up to the monastery, Sno has not receive grants for tourism development, the only certain path toward economic resurrection in the region. Inertia feels present.
This is a hard land, buried under snow in the winter and grit in all seasons. It is also one of the most moving living examples of traditional Kazbegi homesteads and township. The minute I first traversed its curved lanes building concentric circles from the fortress center, I could see the relationship to abandoned villages a few kilometers hence. This made it a precious town to me. But in time, because I was pulled back there again and again, asking myself why this small village in the hinterlands of the world had a gravitational draw, it was the new—or, actually, the renewed—that distinguished itself. In the clarity of this traditional village's design and way of life, the gateways to homesteads spoke a distinct point of view. This is a perspective of re-use, of finding value in what is present—the doors or panels of an old USSR bus, the doors of old cars, the headboards of bed frames, or metal from sources I personally cannot identify. These are rusted, old, but also painted—and beautiful.