Vakarcs Loránd, artist and photojournalist, graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts “Ion Andreescu ”, Photo-Video department, in 2005 in Cluj-Napoca. Since 2014 he works for Sinteza magazine as staff photographer. Before that he worked for the following Romanian newspapers: Clujeanul, Adevărul, collaborated with the Sports Gazette, as well as with press photography agencies. He defines himself as fine art documentary photographer, and since 2010 he follows the change and decay of the industry inherited from the communist period, in parallel with the landscapes and people from isolated villages in Romania. The panoramic format of the photographs is part of his interpretation and personal view over the documented topic.
The photographs in this exhibition capture, in a realist-documentary style, the dynamics of the man–environment relationship. On the one hand, the city dweller perceives space pragmatically, and its denaturation — with industralization and everything it involves — inevitably leads to the social collapse of the individual; on the other hand, villagers in remote areas, facing depopulation and subject to a similar set of social challenges, have an entirely different way of relating to space and nature.
Almost thirty years after the fall of the Communist regime led by Ceaușescu, the industry once thought to be the nation’s pride has become all but nonexistent. Many of the factories and combines were privatized and later demolished and sold piecemeal. More than two million tons of scrap metal and broken machinery from the former factories were sent abroad. Workers lost their jobs and many of them ended up earning their living scavenging for scraps of iron on the industrial platforms and selling them to the metal recycling centers which cropped up overnight throughout the country. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of deep rural areas continue their traditional lifestyle in the very heart of nature, a symbolic return to the roots of the nation, to ancestral traditions. These village folk may represent the last generation of its kind.
The hybrid, strained coexistence of natural living in harmony with the environment and the dilapidated industrial structures with their apocalyptic geometries, this antagonism that defines the geography of present-day Romania, is the subject of these images.
This event also marks the official release of Fotopia – a new association founded for promoting documentary photography in Romania. You can find out more about the team behind this project and other events they’re preparing.