Fine Art Photography Daily

Romania Week: Bogdan Girbovan

from the series, Two Months Nowhere

by Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin

Photographer and freelance artist Bogdan Girbovan graduated from the National University of Arts in Bucharest, Photography Department. He has exhibited throughout Romania, as well as in Paris, Istanbul, Vilnius, and Prague. In 2012, Bogdan received the Fostering Artistic Practices Award from ICR in Venice, Italy.

The domestic landscape is one of Bogdan’s preoccupations and is found in his projects 10/1 and Two Months Nowhere. In his project Two Months Nowhere, he purchased a house in the village Izvoralu, where his father was born. He lived there for two months to learn more about his paternal family’s roots, going back several generations. 

The communist era apartment blocks, these absolutely grotesque buildings, were erected in Eastern Europe as a result of the “Moscow Master Plan”, initiated by Stalin in 1935. The purpose was to provide cheap housing to the peasants brought to work in factories and manufacturing plants and to radically make even all the individuals in the new concrete empire of the “Golden Era.” This was accomplished by lodging people in identical apartments, with the intention to put an end to any individualistic inclinations. Under the same roof live now physicians, professors, steel men, miners, engineers, pensioners, and even farmers. Unfortunately, the mentioned apartment buildings are still upstanding nowadays.
1st floor, apartments number 7, a lady living by herself (refused to make her name public), retired, worked as a banknotes designer before 1989. She’s been living here for 10 years. Apartment owner.

10/1 is comprised of ten photographs, taken in ten single room flats in an apartment block located in the eastern area of Bucharest. It is a 10-story apartment block, and the apartments are placed one on top of the other. They are identical, both in the detail of the exterior and interior. I have selected this building as I also live in it, on the 10th floor, and it is easier to approach the subjects. It is only one apartment block, erected in 1966, of the approximately 70,000 apartment blocks facing the same problem. I lived in this block from 2005-2009 and the project was made in 2007-2008.
2nd floor, apartment number 12, mother and daughter, two distinguished ladies (refused to make their names public). The daughter, former athlete, travelled a lot, visited museums, moved in with her mother after her husband passed away. Apartment owners.

I took a photograph of each apartment (the interior of each space) from the same angle, in order to better illustrate the mix of social classes in the block, displaying only differences in the character and design of the interior. The rooms may be regarded as a psychological chart of those who live in them, reflecting their history and relation to present times.
4th floor, apartment 22, Don Lukas (did not give his name, preferring to appear under his alias), recently returned from Spain, lives together with his girlfriend.
5th floor, apartment 27, Mrs. Suhariuc Ioana, retired. Living here since 1967, and living by herself since 1982. Together with the cat since 1989. Owner of the flat.
6th floor, apartment 32, public figure, refused to give a name or appear in the photograph.
Temporary lodger, as tenant.
10th Floor, apartment 52, Bogdan Girbovan, photographer, rents from his father who bought flat in 2004. 
Installation of Light Boxes, size 80x860cm

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