Viile Tecii, Bistrita-Nasaud, Transilvania, Romania

January 2022


 

I believe that Gypsy/Roman culture has so much reputation amongst the Westerners without having the opportunity to prove what is valuable for them, the beauty of the culture, what some elements mean and finally break the stigma about the “unspoken” traditions they so sacred had for centuries. România has never had a good impressions about gypsies. As an example, when I started developing this idea my own father tried to stop me. Telling me that I should not surround myself with Gypsies because I might be associated with them too much by his friend or friend of family, that I might make people have a bad opinion about me. Every moment anyone tries to convince me that I shouldn’t do this photo series I feel like doing it more and more. I want to represent them as purely and honest possible. Show “the light in the dark”  and, not change people’s ideas about this culture, but making a series of images that will intrigue them, attract them in a way they will understand someday. Maybe. Maybe not. As long as people will take some time to look for details and have a thought behind while analyzing the photos - I will feel accomplished enough to smile. 

The process is the most important part for me as an artist. I will try my absolute beat to make an experience for me and for my subjects. 

 

It is my responsibility to represent this community of people since it is a part of my background, of my country, of who I am and my people Are.

 

I believe I’m the best person to tell this story because I have developed a certain trust with this group of people, trust that  I will always respect and value and I will use the medium of photography to tell their story. Spread an important message about a community that is neglected by its own country - Romania - and has too many invented myths by other countries and continents. 

​“I am seventy -seven years old, in my life I have lost so many people I loved. Now, when rockets of hatred and death fly over our heads instead of doves of peace, there is only one I can say: stop! The human organism is not treated by surgical operations. From any surgical intervention, the one who is operated on is bleeding, and the one who is operating is infected with incurable sepsis. Stop the operation. Put tourniquets on the wounds. Let’s do the impossible: let’s do the 21st century the way we dreamed, and not the way we did it. I’m just doing what I can: I’m begging you to stop! “ - Lev Dodin, Theater director

“ MY NEIGHBOR ACROSS “ or a research on surveillance photography. We created a life, a character, stories, events and all the details in between of a fictional neighbor. I adore combining photography with everything I have learnt from acting and directing. Thank you, @adamvrana99 for trusting me. Here’s another example of a situation where my friends come, we team up and just create. That’s all I want to do and all I wish will ever do. Thank you @access_grantedd. You are the most talented and hard working person I know. 

The most intimate portraits session I had with my mother. This winter I came home to România with so much courage and need to discover my parents and their influence on my art. While I was photographing my mother I brought up subjects that I never had before. One of them was sexuality. I have never talked to my mom about that but here we are in my childhood bedroom. She’s blushing and I’m holding a Canon Film Camera.

Art is the absolute safest and purest way to discover yourself and people around you and that cold winter evening made me smile and showed me once again that I’m extremely blessed to have this beautiful woman as my mother. Victoria. She told me that everything will come together eventually. I believe her.

“And that night I realized that the camera is more than capturing the present moment- the camera is a weapon” 

I was pulled into his life stories right away because I could see a man that fought for his life from the very beginning, a man that had to grow up facing reality without having a moment to take a step back because sometimes life happened too quickly. We got to the bar but I asked him to have a cigarette outside and chat a bit. He talked to me about The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN, ALKN, or LKN) which at first I didn’t know what that meant. He giggled but I reminded him I’m not from around here. The story began. I asked him when his journey started with the gang and he told me “ I was in prison when I decided to join, I was young. I wasn’t afraid of death as stupid as it sounds. When you are in this is do or die.” All I wanted from my time in the Bronx that night was to see humanity, not to rely on “ fictional stories” people told me about it. Meeko told me about his “youthful” years and what it takes to keep yourself alive once you agreed to be part of the gang. This idea fascinated me. He said after “I’m happy I got to fifty.  I survived.” 

I never met anyone who dedicated so many of his tattoos to more than a personal story, but a movement that saved and doomed his life.

This is a lifestyle where you can’t run, you can’t say no because you get a reputation and you can’t afford that in the hood. 

Meeko here never had an ideal environment to be an artist but he still did it.

Now, Meeko is a professional actor. He is part of  The Tank'' Theater, he is known for “The Monster” , “ Night Rapper”, “ Gimme the Loot”, Queen of Glory and my personal favorite “Euphoria” where he’s playing a very intimidating drug Lord from the suburbs. I asked him that night how much of himself can be found in that character. He quickly answered looking to the ground “ That man is nothing like me. “ 

I was quiet for a second because I realized how much of his soul was put in that character, that it was so successful because he went very deep and dark in creating Mouse. And that moment was another confirmation to me - this man is a true artist and I’m not the only one who sees that.   

To conclude, this is what I mean- if you really want something, with your whole body, soul, and spirit - you will do it. He is my example of perseverance and determination. I think every day is a New day to redefine ourselves, to be better, and my night in the Bronx was just a beginning for me as an artist and I’ll always be thankful to Meeko for that night. A Bronx night.