Mano Svanidze · Things I stole

Mar 05, 2019

Mano is a Georgian photographer who portrays amazing human stories that make us deeply reflect and look what is happening around us. In her ongoing series "Thing I stole", Mano illustrates the online dating phenomenon called "Ghosting", which is generally defined as breaking up with someone by completely avoiding and ignoring this person. With these images, Mano poses questions about behaviours in the real and virtual worlds, slef-representation, commoditisation of love and vulnerability amongst many more.

am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

MS - Thank you very much for showing my work! My name is Mano Svanidze. I'm from Tbilisi, Georgia. I graduated from the Tbilisi State University, Faculty of Economics and Business with a BA in Marketing. I wanted to know how all this brainwashing works. Did it shorten the time I spend in the supermarket thinking, being confused and not being able to decide? not really.

I also studied composition and music for 10 years. In 2009 I discovered my interest in photography and started experimenting with my very first camera, a Zenit E. I'm Co-founder and member of  "90's collective", which is a photo collective of Georgian photographers who were born in the 90’s, after the collapse of the USSR. Currently, I'm working as a freelance photojournalist at the media platform "Chai Khana".


am - How did you start in photography?

MS - My interest in photography has deep roots in my childhood. After Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union, wars broke out in different regions of the country. As a result of the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts, thousands of people had to leave everything behind and ended up (internally) displaced. My grandmother was one of those who had to leave. All she managed to take with her were a few photos, which became very precious, almost sacred things for my family. She was often asked why she took photos and not, for example, her jewelery; after all, these could be more useful in a war situation. The silence that would follow this question never failed to make a big impression on me. Growing up, I have always felt attracted to art, and I have engaged in numerous disciplines in an attempt to express my creativity: painting, making beads, carpet weaving, embroidery, dancing and modeling clay are just a few. But in photography I have found the ultimate tool and language to describe and communicate that something, that has for so many years kept me restless and seemingly rootless. Having received no kind of formal education at all, I began experimenting with photography in 2009, and since then photography has become an integral part of my life.


am - What is “Things I Stole” about?

MS - "Things I Stole" is an ongoing project dedicated to a painful new dating strategy commonly known as "ghosting". Ghosting is generally defined as breaking up with someone by ignoring this person, avoiding any kind of contact in real life. It means that someone suddenly disappears from another person’s life without any explanation; no contact is made at all, calls or messages are ignored, in short, no sign of life is given. It doesn't only happen after meeting in person, it can happen at any stage of the dating process, even after exchanging only a few messages. Many people around me have been on the receiving end of this practice, in some cases more than once. "Ghosting" as a term is rapidly becoming a staple of dating related vocabulary, as the phenomenon is becoming increasingly common among users of online dating sites and applications. It has become, so to say, a new trend in online dating.

Because of the specific character of the virtual world, we sometimes forget that behind all those profiles there are real people, with real feelings and no "delete" button. One doesn’t need to be a heartless person to be a “ghoster”. The virtual environment makes it so easy, that sometimes we just do it.

With this project I wanted to illustrate the difference in character between the physical and the virtual space, as well as how and where the two meet. I paired the photos with different usernames, which, although fictional, I believe are representative of those commonly used in online dating spaces. In the photos I captured people naked, which to me represents the most vulnerable, real and delicate state of being. Through this combination I tried to show how physical reality can disappear into virtual reality and vice versa, how subtle and delicate the act of moving between the real and the virtual world can be, what radically divergent appearances one and the same person can take on in physical and virtual spaces.

am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

MS - Wouldn't even try to mention all...  Bill Brandt and Joseph Koudelka were one of my very first loves.


am - What’s your favourite movie?

MS - Landscape in the Mist.


am - What is your favourite photo book?

MS - Latest photo book which really fascinated me was "Shit" by  Erik Kessels, which literally is a collection of photos of German soldiers taking a shit during World War II.


am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.

MS - Thank you for having me here!

All images © Mano Svanidze

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