Summer 2018. Returning to the Caucasus state of Georgia, I wanted to understand more the history and health of a nation pressured by Russia to the north and shut out of NATO at the east. Accompanied by a Georgian political activist and videographer, I explored spa resorts once made wealthy by Russian investment and tourism but which now felt hollowed out, as well as treatment facilities used in Soviet times for both curative and reconditioning purposes. Under the Soviet rule, to speak out against Russia meant you were mentally unstable. You were shuttled off to wards, declared mad, and treated. These abandoned buildings—some luxurious, others institutional—have become over the years places of transitory refuge, especially for Georgian refugees who once lived in the spa-dotted playground of the Abkhazia province but who've since been displaced by the Georgia–Abkhazia civil war. "Spa Refuge," the second journey of On the Route to Calamities, presents the quiet details of making home or taking respite in such liminal spaces. In some, the visitors have moved on or been pushed out, nails and drawings and fabrics marking their past presence. In others, a community quietly thrives, from communal kitchens to a community shop of recycled objects.
I. The Resort on the Hill
II. The Spa After Habitation, Being Gutted
III. Therapeutic Center