University: National Film and Television School
Artist Statement: This project was born last year in 2017 out of my frustration on being on the other side of the wall (Brexit vs. Immigrants) when after one year from the iconic vote in 2016 on leaving the European Union it hit me like an earthquake not knowing what this new status will bring me as a Immigrant in the United Kingdom.
It all started in the heart of Bucharest when I was invited at the BalKanik Festival (one of the most largest Balkanik festivals in eastern Europe) to present my project formed of polaroid photographs of people I’ve met on social media or new/old friends and family.
That was when it hit me to start documenting my life on the both sides of Europe, where eastern side meets western side. Even if I was born and raised in the heart of Romania, beloved city and capital named Bucharest, three years ago another beautiful city/capital and heart of England became my home, that was London. This two cities are now divided in my heart and soul where east side meets west side but it’s always in a conflict.
It can be said that it’s a love – hate relationship that will go like this forever. In eastern European side we still have traditions that are from 200 years old. We still have those communists blocks and industrial arias that will never be forgotten.
Now after two years from the leave vote, I’m still not certain about my status as a citizen of United Kingdom nor of being a European citizen. It still confuses me on how things will turn after 2020 and how my career as an emerging visual artist in a city like London will go and where it will end up.
Where did you attend university and what year did you graduate? I've studied film directing in Bucharest, Romania for 2 and a half years and graduated in 2013. I then enrolled to NFTS in 2017 for a short course on directing short films.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? I enjoyed the short course at NFTS, it made me feel like home, all the students where so focused on film making and European cinema. It made me feel alive and pushed me to try harder to make it in the industry. From studying in Romania, I learnt cinematic basics and the course prepared me for my long journey into film and photography. I think art universities are a special kind of breed, I don't know why, but it's different.
Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? I would say that my work goes in two directions; portraiture and documentary. I’d never been a big fan of documentary photography until two years ago when I won a scholarship of 2 months and completed Ed Thompson's course at his Punktum School. It was quite interesting and gave me a new direction. I do have a guilty pleasure for fashion photography, but it's my own style of fashion photography. I love raw images when it comes to fashion, I like to shoot people who are feeling good in their own skin. I prefer natural light in my photographs. I barely use studio light as I found it too still and lifeless.
What themes do you find yourself exploring? Social documentary, medical problems (it's a new territory because of my Father but I am experimenting), youth; I think the more I age, the more I miss my younger self, not just physically but in certain situations. I’ve noticed how the photography industry has evolved since I was 16-18, for the better.
Tell us more about the short course you undertook with Ed Thompson. I completed this course in the winter of 2016, after Ed and his friend Lewis Bush had an open call for a scholarship for someone who was interested in taking a documentary photography course. So I said, why not apply, even though at that point my photography was mostly consistent of portraits and fashion. After a couple of weeks I got the response back that I was the winner of the scholarship. I was shocked because I didn’t think I was a good fit for it. After that we started the course and I took advantage of it. I made it my aim to soak up everything. Ed had guests like Lewis and Claudia Leisinger who talked us through the process of how to choose your story and how to approach people when it's a delicate subject that you're trying your best to show. It gave me a boost when working on my own approach on documentary photography and made me realise that if you open your eyes and ears you can have something worth documenting and then you can photograph it.
What encouraged you to turn this series around and focus it on your Dad? Did it take a lot of consideration or was it a natural progression? I think the moment that my mother told me on that sunny day of April 2018 as soon as I got back home from work, I remember her talking through the process that my dad has cancer. She told me what would happen next and how this would affect him at such an early stage in his life. I think after the shock I went through, I always deal with my fears and problems by running towards art, as in photography or filmmaking. It gives me the power of moving forward and thinking that I can turn bad news into something that it can be shown as a project that maybe will help others that are going through something similar to let them know that they're not alone.
What's your Dad's opinion on you making this work? He is okay with it. Both my parents encourage me to move forward and to get this project done and show it how it is. When the C word becomes a part of you, because even though the surgery went well and his recovery was good, it still lingers and he went through so much in a really short year.
You mentioned earlier that you feel the photography industry has changed for the better in recent years. Can you explain this? Well, in the past few years I start noticing that you, as an artist, have so many more opportunities now than around 10 years ago. The world evolves every day, and so does the art world and the photographic domain. It's a never ending process that I'm glad I am part of it. I’m glad I can apply for different scholarships and try to get my work to be seen by important people and that it reaches much faster now to the public than it was in the last decade or so. Let's not forget the most powerful photograph with the (Russian ambassador being shot dead in Turkey) in the last decade and how it showed how much photojournalism changed. What does the digital world mean in 2019? It's a good way of being able to get information fast and have the possibility to search through so many open calls and residential artists contests.
Who visually inspires your work? There are a couple of things, mostly just what I see in my every day life. I use music sometimes for inspiration and books, films, and museums. But now I am more and more drawn to my day to day life that even it seems that it's not enough to give you something, you just have to look past the big picture and try to get the small pictures that makes the big one.
Is this series finished? Not yet. It's a working progress. I am taking my time for this one, I think because it's such a personal subject, I want to show the best of it and put it in a light that will not attract compassion from the public but it will make them feel more powerful and make them cherish their own life more than ever. My mother started working at the NHS in 2018. This gives me a much wider view of how the NHS works and how Brexit really affects the system.
What are your future plans in terms of photography? The big picture on photography is to find my place and work in the industry. Now I know more than ever that this is my life, this is really what I want to do and work hard to get it in the end. I want at some point to have my own gallery where people like me, who are emerging artists, have the opportunity to showcase their work and make their voices heard. I know it's a long road ahead and most of can be really lonely but I want to help others to make them work on their voices to be heard. I think that when you struggle to achieve a goal, you appreciate it more when you’re out there doing what you're supposed to do. My first love will always be photography.