Exhibit run August 2, 2011 - October 2, 2011 at The Half King in New York City.
Pressing ahead towards a united Europe, Romania began breaking down its physical and intellectual barriers, while tiny enclaves of human communities remained lying deep in its timeless corners. The historic will aimed to shorten a physical and intellectual distance, while these micro-communities continued to live their austere, disciplined lives by keeping to their ancient traditions and adjusting to the severity of nature’s laws. When Romania was generally preparing for change during the years preceding its 2007 accession to the European Union, in the regions sentenced to remain unchanged I was able to witness the eternal power of food shared together, a haystack piled up together and the existential reality of an animal driven home together – how deeply rooted the community of fate is where the joint salvage of a flooded house, life shared in a single room and bidding a communal farewell to the dead represent bonds of affinity woven with resolute integrity. The images document the invisible moments of a country today referred to as a member state in official EU diplomat-speak and as “the tattered and fantastic land of hope” by the Hungarian writer Péter Esterházy.
2005. Boys kickboxing on the main street of Buzescu. The gypsy community has created a bizarre cityscape here. They’ve erected pompous buildings to show off their wealth, but afterwards, prefer not to live in the structures, leaving many uninhabited. As I entered the village with the journalist we were greeted with this sight. The two guys stopped kickboxing when they saw us approaching with a camera in hand so I had to ask them to continue what they were doing before we arrived. It is interesting that in most parts of Romania the Gypsy population is almost always found on the periphery of the given town or city but here in Buzescu it is the opposite. Gypsies own the center of the village completely. There is a leader among the gypsies, called the Bulibasha who I had the opportunity to meet. We stumbled upon each other in front of his palace. He was wearing a tie completely made of fine gold and was excitedly awaiting the arrival of his new Bulibasha hat, which soon arrived, riding in the backseat by itself in a yellow Dacia.
2005. Couple standing in front of their home, which the floods made uninhabitable in Nanov village near Alexandria.
2005. Car approaching a village through the riverbeds after the floods washed away the bridge of the only road leading to the village. A string of floods hit some two thirds of Romania’s territory in 2005.
2005. Woman returns home with goose under arm in Sapoca village. Bird flu threatening humans and fowls is a serious concern.
2005. Locals at the village Calvini sit under a tent put up in the rectory garden to feast on the day of St. Nicholas, the major patron saint of the Orthodox Church.
2006. Donnica Garleuleb of Damuc village, central Romania, stares through the unkempt plants sown by herself in the family’s garden. Every day, from her house window Donnica watches the gradual decline of the garden, once installed for her children. The children have left some years ago for work in Germany, like many others from the region.
2005. Old couple sit in their unheated living room in Vedea village close to the southern border. Bill Clinton looks on from the TV screen.
2005. Man about to descend from the top of a haystack. The centuries-old method of drying hay guarantees ample food for animals in the winter. Because of a lack of machinery, most farming work is carried out in the traditional way.
2006. Romanian orthodox nuns attend the Sunday religious service near Caianu. These nuns were heavily involved in social work providing food and clothing for those deeply in need. Their order owned a single car with which they randomly entered extremely dangerous, poor gypsy villages at night to throw out packages containing supplies. They did not even stop the car or else they probably would have been attacked.
2007. Lumberjacks rest near Sighisoara.
TOP PHOTO: 2005. Early on a winter morning, a young boy is off to work to saw wood for locals in Odobesti. This picture was taken a year before Romania’s accession into the European Union. For me this picture symbolized the road to a brighter world on which the young man sets off on, and takes a last glimpse back at his home country.