Francesco Merlini’s project is a reminiscence of the flooding disaster that hit Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2015. People died, families became homeless, and the zoo was destroyed. More than 300 animals were lost, while survivors transformed the city into a wilderness full of dangerous beasts. An influential head of the church blamed the flood on the “sins” of the former communist regime. More realistically, its cause can be found in the river’s diminished capacity due to deforestation, poorly maintained Soviet-era infrastructure, and extensive and often illegal development. Merlini blends together a documentary account of the tragedy’s aftermath and a visual reflection on today’s Georgian panorama.
Francesco was born in Aosta in 1986 and he’s based in Milan. After a bachelor's degree in industrial design at the Politecnico University of Milan, he completely devoted himself to photography. After covering Italian news, he now works mainly on personal long-term projects, reportages and editorials, always looking for a point of contact between his photojournalistic background and a strong interest for metaphors and symbolism.
In 2016 he was selected by the British Journal of Photography in order to be part of “The Talent Issue: Ones to Watch" and in 2020 Francesco was shortlisted for the “Prix HSBC pour la Photographie”. In 2021 he's been one of the nominees for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.
His pictures have been published on national and international magazines and newspapers including Washington Post, Financial Times, Le Monde, L'Espresso, Internazionale, Corriere della Sera, D La Repubblica, Sette, Wired, Gq, Die Welt, La Stampa, Rolling Stone and his projects have been exhibited worldwide in collective and solo exhibitions.
Francesco’s first book “The Flood”, published by Void, has been released in 2021.
In parallel with his photographic career, in the last five years Francesco has coordinated the international documentary agency Prospekt, taking on the role of photo editor and curator, working closely with some of the most awarded contemporary reportage photographers and with the most important magazine from around the world.