Behind 100th Issue of the National Geographic Magazine – The Year Pictures
Interview with the Editor in chief at the National Geographic Magazine - Georgia, Natia Khuluzauri
The main topics of the 100th issue are Test, Isolation, and Hope, how were the topics selected and what does each one mean, what did you have in mind?
The year 2020 is special in that it has proved to be equally challenging, not for any particular country or countries, but for the entire planet. It was a year that on the one hand separated us, on the other hand, united us and made it clear that we humans, regardless of our origins or beliefs, are closely interdependent and connected, moreover, we are an integral part of the outside world and we need to learn harmonious coexistence with it. We have had so many hardships this year that it is very difficult to list them – the pandemic and the growing number of pandemic victims, the waves of protests that have erupted in many parts of the world for various reasons, as well as natural disasters on our planet. We will never miss the year of 2020, but we will not forget it either. Thus, for the first time in the 133-year history of the National Geographic Magazine, a special issue is dedicated to a specific year. Conventionally, it's divided into three parts – The Year that Tested Us, The Year that Isolated Us, and the Year that Hope Endured. In each chapter, we have tried to gather important events of 2020 and present it through the works of the world's best photographers.
Who are the authors of the photos and what is their main message?
The authors of the photos are National Geographic photographers from all over the world. In the Georgian edition, you will also find the works of three Georgian photographers, Giorgi Gogua, Dato Koridze, and Ana Dzagania. These images represent an effort, guided by the magazine’s tradition and sensibility to provide some context for the year. Our dominant theme in 2020 was the pandemic and events related to it. Based on the values of the magazine, our focus is also on science, climate, and wildlife. The photos presented in the issue remind us that the study of these areas has not stopped in 2020 either. As Siddhartha Mitter writes in our opening essay − polar ice did not stop melting because of the pandemic, though some pressures on the natural environment were lessened as more people stayed home. On the other hand, the information obtained by observing nature in this extremely stressful atmosphere has never been so useful.
The events of 2020 have raised the fundamental and contradictory question Mitter says: How can we live in such a "tight" present and, at the same time, gain long-term experience from the lessons of nature? We were forced to adapt to circumstances when we were confronted with existential uncertainty. Our photos taken last year show chaotic humanity trying to make its way down the aisle. The most intense photos show care, rehabilitation, adaptation, grief, expectations, responsiveness, struggle, mourning, or everyday life. Humanity is naked and these, uniquely memorable photos are fermented with human emotions and not - overloaded with information.
Given the ongoing processes in the world and the country, what will be the goal of Georgian-language National Geographic in 2021?
We believe that the power of science, research, education, and storytelling can change the world. The local language edition of the National Geographic Magazine was founded eight years ago with the private initiative of Giorgi Ramishvili and Silknet Company. The aim of the initiative was to introduce Georgia to the world’s best science-popular Magazine and to spread values and knowledge that National Geographic has been following for already 133 years. We work closely with our Head Quarters in Washington DC to ensure that the material adapted from the English language is properly delivered to our readers as well as we prepare and publish local material that directly falls into our mission. We always cover the latest developments in the world based on fundamental research and try to reflect the current events in the world and our country with the in-depth narrative and high-ranking visual storytelling characteristic for the National Geographic Magazine. In 2021, of course, we will have to write about the pandemic again, reflecting the current social events in the world or Georgia, however, we will tell you about science, climate change, wildlife, or peoples and cultures. As always, we will try to inspire each other to take care of our planet.