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Jordi Perdigó & Cristina Aldehuela | The Easter Battle

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. The town’s orthodox priest Saba and the bodyguards of internal affairs minister of Georgia are holding the ball before the game starts.

No time limits, no rules, an indiscriminate number of players—let’s play Lelo! The game is a no-holds-barred combination of wrestling and rugby that is very popular in south-western Georgia. Every Easter Sunday, the residents of Shukhuti remember their dead by playing this ancient game. Lelo is a sport, and a tradition, but most of all it’s about passion, strength, faith and devotion.
Two creeks, about 150 meters apart, mark the goal lines for two teams. Between them a playing field full of houses, gardens and a road. The teams are made up of citizens from the upper and lower halves of this small town but whoever wants is free to join them. The aim is easy: whichever side is the first to carry a 16 kilogram ball back to their creek wins. Meanwhile fences, trees, and bones are crushed by a big melee.
Victory not only means beat your opponent. Victory is a tribute to those who are no longer with them. The ball is given as an offering to a deceased villager and placing it on his grave after the match. Kvemo (the lower part) took the victory this year, at least until the next Easter battle starts.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Violence and religion goes together in the Lelo game. The strong religious devotion in Georgia just grows during easter week, being the Lelo game the highest peak for this small town.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Apart from towns neighbours, a massive number of players are coming from all over the country to play. All of them create a huge melee that can be over hundreds of people.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Only 3 minutes after the start the first injured people are carried away of the big melee. Usually they recover after few minutes and go back to play.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. This ancient tradition is about playing but it attracts thousands of people that come just to watch the brave men playing.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Usually the ball is not seen during the whole game as a melee is always on top of it. Despite its 16 kilo weight men carried as it was a regular rugby ball.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Georgia is one of the first cultures to embrace cristianism, religion here involves any aspect of life.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Without halves parts or pauses, the no time rule game doesn’t stop until one of the parts of the town win.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. The game field is the whole town, anything on its way is sensible to be destroyed by the melee. Fences, trees, gardens or even houses have been smashed during the last years.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Even the violence that takes place during the game, the injures doesn’t go further than bruises or broken arms or legs. There has been never any serious injured man for playing Lelo.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. This year Kvemo took the credit and won. The heavy ball ended in their creek so theirs is the honor to put the ball beside their tomb of choice.

Georgia, Shukhuti – 2014. Following the big melee from the streets of Shukhuti there is a huge amount of spectators. After 2 hours of game, those who can’t play anymore just sit down and wonder how they will play better next year.

Q&A with Cristina Aldehuela & Jordi Perdigó

Photography is…

Jordi: Photography is just a medium to share and exchange emotions.
Cristina: Photography is my way to see the world, to perceive the emotions that spring forth around.

Photography and writing…

J: They are two different ways of communication, Photography goes straight to your guts, its rawness in pure form. Writing is when we try to put words to those feelings.
C: They are two different forms to express yourself. You could say photography gets you quickly, it’s straight forward as everything it’s said just at the moment when you look an image. Meanwhile, writing has a slower time to involve you, to seduce you. It’s impossible to compare these two forms of communication. Photography and writing narrate realities, bring different ways to see the world, both have an influence on those who receive them, but each in its own pace and style.

Who left the biggest impression on you?

J: Enric and Francisco, both of my grandads were my biggest source to learn about life. Now it’s my 2 kids who constantly show to me what it’s all about.
C: My father left an important impression on me when I was a child. I learned from him the love and passion for photography. I can’t recall a day without seeing my father with a camera on his hands.

Tell us a little about yourself

J: An injured musician who discovered photography by chance. I’ve worked as photo assistant, retoucher, studio photographer and photojournalist for various newspapers. Doing fashion, portrait, architecture, documentary and everything in between. To me, there’s nothing like to get close to people and listen to them. All I need is a small camera, a fixed 28mm lens and a good pair of shoes.
C: I studied journalism and photography. I began my photographic career in 2009 at university when I founded a photographic collective. I’ve worked as a writer in various newspapers and magazines. As a photographer, some of my reportages have been published in Spain and England. I’ve participated in a few exhibitions with my works about Occupy Movements and the economic crisis of Spain.

jordiperdigo_a1Jordi Perdigó was born in 1980 in Barcelona, Spain. He started taking black&white pictures with a broken loaned camera as teenager. He holds a Masters in the Arts in Photojournalism at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He is a photojournalist who after working in newspapers in Finland and Spain quit and start documenting his own reality, newspapers not allowed him to put feeling in his pictures. He is currently living between Finland, Spain and Caucasus.
cristina_a1Cristina Aldehuela, “I studied journalism and photography. I began my photographic career in 2009 at university when I founded a photographic collective. I’ve worked as a writer in various newspapers and magazines. As a photographer, some of my reportages have been published in Spain and England. I’ve participated in a few exhibitions with my works about Occupy Movements and the economical crisis of Spain.”
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