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I visited SKLAD, the only contemporary art program in Abkhazia in Sokhumi. Traveling from Tbilisi to Sokhumi seemed easy initially. Still, I soon realized I needed to get permission at the border even though I had already applied and my visa was accepted.


The Georgian guards found it amusing that I wanted to visit Abkhazia. My New York City background and inability to speak Russian intrigued them. They even commented how they liked my jumpsuit.

After obtaining permission, I crossed a pedestrian bridge in the hot sun to enter Abkhazia. At the security checkpoint, Russian guards were suspicious of my camera and film, leading to hours of interrogation in a makeshift container. Despite not being able to communicate with the guard, I maintained my composure, finding his many conversations on the phone and slamming it to the desk somewhat performative. After hours of this, I was finally allowed through. 

Once released and over the border, I found my driver waiting, and we were on our way to Sokhumi. Soon, our car broke down with a flat tire. Instead of getting anxious, I embraced the situation, making light of it despite language barriers.

Across the street, another car had broken down, and people were pushing it. Okay, at least we are with company, I thought to myself. This initial experience of navigating uncertainties defined my time in Abkhazia, a journey that often left me wondering: What am I doing here? Is it okay to do this? Is it all right to be here? How do I feel about this?

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