Mayya Kelova is a conceptual artist working with photography and moving image. She is from Turkmenistan, of Turkmen and Georgian origin, and is currently based in Tbilisi, Georgia. Mayya seeks to explore such topics as trauma, identity, and migration. She graduated from Docdocdoc — the School of Contemporary Photography and has participated in international photography masterclasses, including Nikon-NOOR Academy and the VII Academy. In 2021, she became a member of Women Photograph.

Mayya has collaborated as a writer and photographer with non-profit organisations and media outlets. Her works have been featured in Novaya Gazeta, FK MagazineNowhere DiaryVII Academy, L'Œil de la Photographie Magazine, Broad Magazine, UN Women, Georgia Today and others. Her films have been showcased on such festivals as Moving Worlds in the UK (2019) and Festival of Migrant Film in Slovenia (2018) and photography exhibited at MOFA+ in Kyrgyzstan (2022) and 139 Documentary Center in Uzbekistan (2022) among others. In 2024, she has been nominated for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass and in 2023 received a grant from the Centre de la Photographie Genève.

Bio/CV. Mayya Kelova artist


2019-22       Docdocdoc, School of Modern Photography, Saint Petersburg, RU
2016-17       Central European University, MA Human Rights, Budapest, HU 
2008-13       American University in Bulgaria, BA Journalism, BU

Workshops and Art Residencies 

2023       Centre de la Photographie Genève, six-months mentorship, CH    
2023       Black Sea Poti Art House Residency, Poti, GE    
2021       Nikon-NOOR Academy with Sanne De Wilde, Pep Bonet, and Jon Lowenstein    
2019       VII agency workshop with Sara Terry, Linda Bournane, Nichole Sobecki, Sarajevo, BA   
2016       Nikon-NOOR Academy with Benedicte Kurzen, Sebastian Liste, and Yuri Kozyrev, Almaty, KZ  

Exhibitions and Screenings

2024       Pop-Up Group Exhibition, Tbilisi, GE, project Stories we did not tell, secrets we did not share
2024       JETIQARAQSHY, UK, KZ, KG, TJ, screenings, Something borrowed, something red
2023       Black Sea Photo Festival, group exhibition, Poti, GE 
2023       Capri Festival, group exhibition, Capri, IT, project Something borrowed, something red
2023       A.C.T. Civic Engagement group exhibition, Tbilisi, GE film #OccupyKossuth 
2022       MoFA+, Meykindik — Erkindik Exhibition,  personal exhibition, Bishkek, KG
2022       139 Documentary Center, NeUyat Group Exhibition, Tashkent, UZ, project “forgiving
2022       Open Art House, Pop-Up Group Exhibition, Tbilisi, GE
2019       Moving Worlds, UK (various cities), film “ANYAK
2018       “Love. Captured” group exhibition, Budapest, HU
2018       Researcher’s Night, Budapest, HU, film “ANYAK
2018       Festival of Migrant Film, SI, film “ANYAK
2018       Art IN Academia, Budapest, HU, film “ANYAK
2013       American University in Bulgaria, project “Hope for Cherry Blossom”, solo exhibition

Awards and Recognitions

2024       Athens Photo Festival 2024, shortlist, GR
2024       World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass Nominee, Amsterdam, NL
2023       Photography Festival in Capri — XV edition, Winner, Single Image Category, IT
2023       Helsinki Photo Festival, shortlist, FI
2023       Centre de la Photographie Genève, grant & mentorship, CH 
2021       Nikon-NOOR Academy, selected participant
2019       VII workshop, scholarship recipient, BA
2016       NOOR-Nikon masterclass, scholarship recipient, KZ

Artist Talks and Other Initiatives

2024       Mediation, Pop-UP Group Exhibition, Tbilisi, GE
2022       Author’s excursions, art mediations at the NeUyat Group Exhibition, Tashkent, UZ
2021       Guest Speaker, “Women in Various Fields, ” open dialogue by the EU Delegation to Turkmenistan
2020       Storytelling through documentary photography, online seminar, TM
2020       Artist talk for journalism students, University of Central Asia, KG
2019       Speaker: Creating Multimedia Content for Positive Social Change, World Learning Alumni TIES, Almaty, KZ


2023       Interview, Sola Journal
2023       Project Review, Something borrowed, something red, 95MAG
2023       Publication of the project Forgiving, Broad Magazine
2023       Interview, Your Local Newsstand
2023       Publication of the project ForgivingArtDoc Photography Magazine
2023       Publication of the project ForgivingL'Œil de la Photographie Magazine
2023       Publication of the project ForgivingFK Magazine
2023       Publication of the project ForgivingNowhere Diary
2020       Amplifying Student Voices, Photographing Life in Times of Pandemic, VII Academy
2016       The Last Emperors, group publication, Novaya Gazeta
2016       Publication of the project Power of DedicationThe PULS