My photographic project traces the subjective contours of my childhood memories in Romania’s region of Dobrogea. The trips to Dobrogea’s villages trigger strong impressions that I seek to capture in my photographs. Like in the case of Proust’s Madeleine, some images from the quotidian life of the people living in these villages, their gestures, the lights, or earthy smell, have the power to surface deeply-held emotions from my childhood and to trigger past recollections.
The Romanian region of Dobrogea is a melting pot of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition. Lying between the Danube River and the Black Sea, Dobrogea has a turmoiled history. Successive waves of Turks, Tatars, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Jewish, and Russians intermingle in its history.
I grew up accompanying my grandfather during his weekly meetings with his friends for Saturday morning’s coffee, brewed to perfection in an antique bronze pot. Like my own family, they too were brought to Dobrogea by the historical events that took place in the Balkans and Anatolia at the beginning of the 20th century. Poate aici un scurt footnote cu maxim o propozitie despre istorie
I could not understand the stories told about the destinies of their families, but I was overwhelmed by their emotions. I could sense the fragility and endurance of these people.
My childhood memories became more immaterial, after the death of my grandparents’ generation, when almost nothing of that past still subsisted. Still, regardless of the passing of time and the fading of concrete memories, the emotion remained. Even though I did not experience what these people did firsthand, their collective unconscious remained within me, informing my artistic approach.
As a result, there is always a sense of “known” when I go to Dobrogea. It evokes the same emotions that I felt when listening to my grandfather talk to his friends – it makes me recall the fervor in their voices and in their demeanors. It represents the “collective unconscious”, the “unknown known” buried so deep, not just in my mind but also “passed on in our DNA from generation to generation”.