Witnessing, Bratislava 2006
SEPTEMBER 22 THROUGH NOVEMBER 26, 2006
Series of pictures with Romanian "Nouveau Riche"
A new species of wealthy individuals appeared after the fall of Ceausescu and his despotic communist era and beginning of the rapacious Romanian capitalism.
These are individuals that earn large sums of money from activities like: organized crime (human traffic, drug traffic, stolen cars) to dirty political arrangements and state investment crooks.
Reach, socially respected, driving a luxury car escorted by breath taking ladies, these low culture (but with an image of maecenas, patron of arts) individuals, became a model for most young Romanian.
I'm interested in presenting them as they are and revealing a social paradox.
Photos taken in an abandoned site – the foundation of Romanian Opera – project started at Ceausescu's order.
Its destination has changed: because of the lack of playing grounds, it became an enormous "amusement park".
This hideous and unfinished project that consumed together with other aberrant "dreams", Romania's financial resources, became the perfect playground for the neighbourhood children.
Entire districts have been demolished in order to provide the adequate space for Ceausescu's North Korean "architectural vision" most of them are unfinished or abandoned, being totally unsuitable for public use.
Doina was a model in the Bucharest Faculty of Art; an educated person with a complex vocabulary and literature knowledge.
Only when she talks about her ex-husband and her mother you spot a different behavior thinking that maybe something is wrong.
I don't know if her husband left her because she had a nervous breakdown or if she had the nervous breakdown because her husband left her.
She lives with her son Antonio in a decent neighbourhood in an unimaginable environment; thousand of bottles, food packaging, wheel caps, clothes, china and even a Christmas tree are stacked in her 2 room apartment.
This type of accumulationism is the result of loneliness and sentimental despair.
Unfortunately, she doesn't have any financial support to pay the rent and they were cut off from water and electricity, living out of pity.
Unfortunately, Doina is not a singular case; many people like her, who are unable to sustain themselves, are left in a slow decay without any social help.
The history is repeating, a mentally disturbed woman gives birth to a child that will live the same hopeless and unhappy life.
For the second time in my life I found myself in front of such an image, the first time when I was 10, then at 23 years old, both of them incidental.
Past and present images and emotions, which I can hardly define, assault my mind: the places where those children were abandoned, the position they were in, the bags and the rags they were wrapped up in and carried, the nails, their physical development, the fact that I was in front of a human being, the physical and psychical feelings of the woman had while having an abortion, the guilt that we might carry because of our attitude and our mentality… the nerve I had to take a picture…
I didn't know what to do, bury it?
"Shall I call anybody?" I didn't want to repeat the mistake I made when I was a child. When I was 10 years old I was playing football in a neighbourhood park with my neighbour friends when we discovered an aborted child next to our soccer field wrapped in some cloths; we've been told in school that if we discover something like this we should immediately call the "Militia" (Ceausescu's Police).
That's exactly what we have done. They came; they asked questions and took pictures, telling us that we did the best thing calling them.
Extremely proud of our patriotic decision I arrived at home telling my mom about that fact.
My mom lessened to me very carefully and said: "Why have you done this, do you know that if they catch that woman she can be imprisoned because of you? Do you know that I also did abortion numerous times?
That was my first contact with the Romania's tough reality that I will never forget.
(During the Ceausescu's regime it was illegal to have an abortion and contraceptive methods were not allowed therefore many women had empiric abortions performed by midwifes or untrained personal in non-hygienic places.
If they were caught they could face seven years of prison.
The Militia was allowed to seal the sorrowing area and perform gynecological exams, discovering the guilty woman.)
The next day, the baby was gone.
During the 80's and 90's this lake was the only weekend resort for the neighbours in the area. I also spent a lot of time swimming in summer and skating in winter.
IOR Lake - A social seismograph of Ceausescu's capital - Bucharest - which reflects the decaying of a derailed regime as well as the material condition, the culture and level of culture of his inhabitants.
Dismantled playgrounds - rusted toboggans, broken swings - homeless, a contrasting place which combines leftovers with life in the water, violence with promenade, vagrancy with sunbathing, fishing with drowning, dog training with rape. The lake is a garbage can.
This action was a social manifest meant to be a trigger about the fact that this is a dangerous place for children to play or swim in its infested water.
The purpose of this performance was to take social activities out of normal.
Although we used uniforms, stretcher, blood for perfusions this performance reveled the individuals, lack of reaction in front of a potential danger.
Having no information on that body and the staff that transported him, each individual, according to his own cultural guide marks, guessed the identity of that body, its symptomatology; and making presumptions about his survival. Only gossips and no attitude.