Genius Loci • Gabriel Amza
In The Jiu Valley, the coal mining heart of Romania there is something missing at the very center of the community. After Romania’s 1989 revolution and the overthrow of communism, the mines started laying off workers, turning rock-solid relationships and communities into a swamp.
The future had become uncertain. The government of the time used this uncertainty and worry to turn the miners into a force for quelling student protests in the capital. People died and the view of the Jiu Valley and it’s miners had changed in Romania. They became outcasts. There was no solidarity to be had through the ordeals of mine closures, layoffs and the inevitable destruction of local communities built around the coal mines in the last 150 years.
Coal was the heart around which the Jiu Valley towns grew, feeding the gorging furnaces of the Industrial Revolution and of the age of the automobile. Now, with the last mines set to close by 2025 the area must re-discover itself. The communities must find their own path, one they must choose and believe in.
‘’Genius Loci’’ is an ongoing documentary photography project started in 2014 about the search for that path in this singular moment in the history of the Jiu Valley.
Gabriel Amza is a Romanian documentary photographer based in Timisoara. He works mainly in Central and Eastern Europe, and prefers to focus his energy on long term documentary photography. His main drives and his curiosity and empathy. Gabriel has a MFA in Photojournalism from Mid Sweden University and is a contributor to NPR and Vice. He has self-published one photobook ( Ion) and is currently working on the second.