July 21, 2017
#kkchumans — Ramin & Georjie

Festivals Kometa gathered a variety of talented and creative personalities from all around the world in Riga. Ramin and Georjie took care of the Dreams Cinema and brought some Fiji magic with their “secret” photo exhibition at Kometa. #kkchumans caught them for a long conversation about nomad lifestyle and the art of filmmaking.

On wanderlust

R: As a 16 years old I went to a school exchange program in Malaysia. Maybe I was too rebellious to stay in such a traditional Muslim society. It wasn’t the nicest experience but it taught me how to deal with different problems and situations on my own. I came home, finished my high school and made my parents happy. I can’t stop travelling since then — I’ve been living this nomad life for 3,5 years now.

At first I was looking for something, not sure exactly what. I wasn’t satisfied with my life so I went to New Zealand and started from zero — not knowing the country or any people there. I travelled around by hitch-hiking, slept in the nature, lived in small communities. Finally I found what I’ve been searching for. It’s a very good feeling. Constant movement, meeting new places and people, widening horizons. Living like this is tempting and it gets you out of your comfort zone, and you should be ready to push yourself, to learn, grow and each time go a step further. I’m challenging myself to go to places I’ve never been before, where I don’t feel comfortable and see how I can handle it.

Honestly, I have this fear in my bones — staying in one place for 3 years, seeing the same people and places again and again. Of course, I have friends and close people I love and have somehow learned not to say “goodbye” but “see you later” because I have a strong feeling we’ll see each other again. This new “gypsy” way of living is becoming more and more popular among young people, and it’s great! But understand that this freedom comes with a high price  — you don’t have a regular circle of friends you can relate to, or have your own space. The last one is something that I miss sometimes, just closing the door and staying alone.

G: When I was 18 years old I moved to London, wanting my activity and education to be connected to art. The art community there is very bright; people are doing incredible things and it often ends up being a horrendous place for a start as artists are quarrelling and scrabbling to get to the top. I knew that I won’t develop or progress in this environment. I had to find my style, my “thing” so one day I just bought the ticket to New Zealand. I was living the same way Ramin did and hiked a lot, being completely alone. There was a very important moment for me — my camera broke and I spent a long time without it, realising that I really love shooting and that it’s something I want to do more in the future.

I worked in small charity-based local communities doing awesome things together; it showed me the power of journalism and art within the NGO environment (which had been manipulated so far). There was a huge natural disaster on Fiji and I knew that it won’t be shown in the big media so I went there with my camera to see what I can do. I was working with different NGO’s, living with locals in the mountains and learning the language in order to be able to conduct a decent conversation. I continued working (Haiti, France, Peru) with natural disaster response, refugees etc. It still surprises me how much use we have from very small NGO’s and how much harm from the “big name” organisations.

Ramin and I are trying to set up a media platform of creative journalism and storytelling from unspoken cultures — livacollective.com. We want to link these small NGO’s which are doing a lot of important work around the world and tell their stories and show what’s really happening, what you won’t ever see on the TV or read in the newspaper.

On consumerism 

R: I would like to inspire everyone to go out and try this way of living, even for a bit. You might notice things about yourself and the world around you. The moment you let go of control, life takes care of itself. Sometimes you don’t have money but instead have trust in life and good things come to you. Or maybe it’s bad things that turn out to be good in the end. Minds of people who are burdened by structures and responsibilities tend to create reasons why they can’t do certain things, go places and so on. When you let go of these reasons there is always a way to fulfil a dream you have. Letting go of the material things can be a very freeing experience. Everything you own ends up owning you.

G: We carry everything we own in our backpacks. This way you are free of the responsibility of the material things that take up space in your flat or your parents house. It’s easier to breathe when you get past the concept of possessions. This lifestyle is not for everyone, but you can at least incorporate some elements of it in your life. For example, instead of going out each week and spending money on alcohol you can save up a bit and afford a month away. During this month you will see and learn so much, getting a totally different perspective on life.

R: If you change the way you consume, you can reduce the cost of living dramatically — which means you can reduce your work time. It’s important to distinguish what you need and what you want. I used to spend thousands of euros buying cigarettes and when I quit it enabled me to live with much less money.

G: People often have very wrong assumptions (especially with my British accent) that we are travelling because we have lots of money or our parents are paying for it. In reality you don’t need much money to travel. The shooting equipment is the most expensive thing we have; and we actually on the way to get paid doing some freelance job so it’s not a luxury item but it pays our ways. We need to breakdown these stereotypes all the time.

On filmmaking

R: I started shooting to create memories and catch beautiful moments that happened between people. As I started to meditate more, being aware of my environment, it shifted towards capturing the beauty of the nature. Sometimes we are in a hurry so we forget to look around us, right or left. There is no mind involved into editing of the footage, I don’t think about it. My films are made through me, it’s like a trance — I just sit for hours by the computer and then suddenly the film is ready.

G: My films and photos are very intimate and personal, very gentle. There can be very harsh photos depicting natural disasters and “dark side” of the world that are still gentle because of the way I see things. It comes from very deep corners of me without any borders and limitations, it’s my sort of meditation. My first film was a stop motion video out of 6000 photos and that’s how I discovered film — through photos. I was surprised how much power the possibility of making videos and experimenting in editing gives you, although one photo can still be much more powerful than the whole movie. Ramins’ works have this sharpness and unexpected editing in them, while my films are the slow gentleness. Together they create a very interesting dynamic.

If I could be any object in the world I would be a…

R: Camera. It’s a part of me and my life. When I’m with my camera I feel blessed out.

G: Tape. You are used to fix things and consistently hug something. I think all the photographers always have the tape with them and it travels a lot.

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