Fine Art Photography Daily

Romania Week: Petrut Calinescu: Pride and Concrete

Certeze, Tara Oasului. Gheorghe and Maria Balta have 3 children, all working in France. In time, they have transformed and enlarged the old house, until it got to today’s version, a house with 2 floors and a glass front.

by Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin
Photojournalist Petrut Calinescu is based in Bucharest and represented by Panos Pictures. He graduated with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from Bucharest University, and has twice won the Romanian Photojournalist of the Year Award. Personal projects have led him to India, Kenya, Bolivia, Afghanistan, China, and the Black Sea region. Today, without losing his passion for travel, he’d rather focus on issues closer to home, where knowing the language and the cultural codes helps him to delve deeper into a project. 

The project highlighted here, Pride and Concrete, documents the effects of emigration on the rural landscape in parts of northern Romania. The project began in October 2010, initially funded by Petrut, and was part of a Masterclass organized by Robert Bosch and World Photo Press. Following, grants came from RCI Paris, AFCN, and OAR. This project has been exhibited in Berlin, Bucharest, and Negresti Oas, where many of the images were taken. The book received enough crowd-funding in order to begin printing and will be released in September. You can order the book HERE.
Pride and Concrete
One in six Romanians lives and works abroad. Most of the migrants come from rural areas and the money sent back home has irreversibly transformed their native villages. Unlike in the city, where economic competition is a more subtle affair, in the villages changes are highly visible and the main street acts as an open stage for ostentatious display. Pride and Concrete is a project about the recent transformations occurring in rural communities following decades of migration abroad for work. The gentle, bucolic sounds of small scale agriculture have been replaced with the muffled murmur of concrete mixers and village elders strut around on building sites, inspecting progress.
Tarsolt, Tara Oasului. Misca’s – a cement mason working in Paris – house, built following a bet with a relative who told him he wouldn’t be able to build a house bigger than his.
Balta Floarea in her daughter’s unfinished house. Her daughter works in Paris, in a patisserie.
Racsa, Tara Oasului. Berende Iacob drinking water of the back yard well of his children’s (who have gone to the UK) house. Traditionally, the people of Racsa, are breeders, but today most of them have gone to England.
Ilva Mica, Bistrita
Stramtura, Maramures. The people of Stramtura were part of the later waves of migrants. 
In the photo, the two bigger houses were built by two brothers who work in Spain.
Cajvana, Bucovina. Cajvana (most inhabitants have gone to Italy) is for Bucovina what Certeze is for Tara Oasului. This is the village where house building is at its peak and most luxurious; this village is the pacemaker when it comes to house construction.
Certeze, Tara Oasului. Maria Balta drying some parsley in the place where a spiral staircase will soon be built.
Bixad, Tara Oasului. The funeral of Man Ion, 84. In the yard of the old house, his grandson, who works in Spain, is building a modern villa.
Cajvana, Bucovina. Most villagers from Cajvana work in construction, in Italy. The economic world crisis hasn’t prevented the development of their native village: many of them are paid directly in construction materials.
Moiseni, Tara Oasului. My feet are my luxury car, says Balta Gheorghe, one of the few villagers who remained home.
Cajvana, Bucovina. Vasile P: These are my achievements after 8 years’ work in Italy. A house and a car. Not all of them, adds his wife, giggling.
Tarsolt, Tara Oasului. A recently married couple working in England, posing with Eiffel Tower-shaped bottles of moonshine. These Eiffel Tower bottles have become symbols of success in the villages of this region.

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