Rustavi, Georgia

During a field trip to the South Caucasus, we encountered Rustavi, a town situated on the outskirts of the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi. Rustavi once epitomized a top-down industrial city, meticulously designed, organized, and interconnected with other Soviet Polygon Towns under the auspices of the Soviet regime centered in Moscow.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the chain of command disintegrated, leading to the cessation of operations in Rustavi’s industrial factories, mirroring the fate of other Polygon Towns. The city found itself suspended in time, caught between the vanished glory of the Soviet era and the challenges of a nascent Georgian regime. Rustavi appeared desolate and eerily quiet, surrounded by a landscape marred by pervasive pollution

The essay is by Malkit Shoshan and Daniela Bellelli.

Photos by Malkit Shoshan