a family

meet ioan and violeta, both 37. they have been married for 11 years and have seven children, aged 7 through 21. we met them when i noticed their kids playing on the railroad tracks outside their house. ioan and violeta are a mixed couple, in that she is a roma and he is not.  the family – all nine of them – live in a three-room, 30 m² shack by the rail line that leads into the old abandoned factory. the house, which originally had only one room, was owned by the railroad company before it went out of business….

roma in romania

  scenes from the courtyard of housing occupied by roma families in bucharest. these families have been squatting here for years, unofficially tolerated by the municipal government. i can’t do a series on romania without discussing the roma. there is a sensitivity around photographing roma. first, the relationship is exploitative on both sides: we photograph them because they are “exotic,” and they know it; and they are going to ask us for money at some point, and we know it. second, according to our translator (who is roma himself) the legacy of roma slavery in the romanian territories from the 14th…

old people and farm animals, part 2

while we were in baia mare, we drove around the maramureș region. maramureș is known for, among other things, maramureș gates, which are massive carved gates standing in front of houses. one finds the gates in rural areas and suburban villages alike, and even if the house itself is modest, the gate looks impressive. (rainbow not included) we walked through the village of harnicesti where we met these women, who were hilarious. apparently, most of what they were saying was pretty ribald (for example, one of them announced that “when you die, the only things that matter is the places you went and…

old people and farm animals

when we left bucharest, and were just a few hours out of the city, we took a wrong turn and drove into a hamlet called voinesea, where we met ilie and his nephew. they stay in a one-room house during the warmer months, tending to their animals and keeping the riverbanks clean. later that day, we landed in hunedoara, outside petrila (which i blogged about earlier), where we met marcu, his wife (not pictured) and his mother, and a whole lotta sheep. next: more on this topic

baile herculane

back to the crumbly stuff … băile herculane (the baths of hercules), in the southwest of romania, is a spa town whose roots as such stretch back to roman times. the town is known for thermal springs containing sulphur and other restorative minerals. we didn’t smell sulphur in the air during our visit, but i’m told the town can really reek of it on some days. many of the prettiest buildings, which are now in various states of disrepair, date to the era of the austrian-hungarian empire – one bathhouse, for example, was built for empress elisabeth of austria. the…

they closed the mine

petrila, a town about halfway between bucharest and the serbian border, was a mining town until 2015. according to one article, petrila’s mine had been in operation for 156 years, and without the mine, there is no significant economic activity in the town at all. naturally, photos like this look better in black-and-white. from the looks of it, parts of the mining operating had been left to fall apart for longer than a year, but who knows. for the former miners, life goes on. these guys aren’t sitting alone at home at 10 on a friday morning.