The Desolation of the Romanian landscape.
Tamas Dezso - Notes for an Epilogue
Crumbling buildings desolated and abandoned places, which in photography terms all lead to the generic overtones of another project trying to represent social problems within working communities. It has always been a troubling cliché within photography, a photographer travelling to somewhere lesser off than what the intended audience is used to, and showing them a face of poverty. Whilst acting as a tool for documenting events and current climates, it is a very questionable as to wether it is fully needed within our current culture of looking.
Yet the odors of repetition are voided whilst looking at the staggeringly beautiful and engaging images of Tamas Dezso. The work focuses itself within a particular setting, Romania and what has been left behind, and who is left there co existing with the left over matter. We are introduced to window smashed buildings, birds soaring over a rubbish wasteland, in search of food in the cold Romanian winter. Life is evidently tough here; it’s a fact, which is difficult to escape from, yet through the strong compositions and scenic beauty on hand, a balancing act is being performed within this body of work. We are introduced to stone faces carved into the side of a cliff side, whilst more stone faces of the subjects themselves weave their way in and out of this project, the faces are tough, hard baring, deadpan and vacant.
One photograph in particular stands out from the rest, a boy within a bearskin. The connotations within this photograph are almost perfect, as if everything, which is said within this project, has manifested itself into one unique photograph. The boy is small; he looks directly as us, a level of innocence within a powerful and dangerous animal. The boy has become part of the landscape when he wears this guise, there is a timeless element to this photograph, the feeling that this photograph is reverting back to older times, more in touch times in relation to land and man, as if within ruin, the local communities have had to go back into the landscape and be part of the land, as a result to the end of communism in 1989. This of level of working with the land crosses over to working with what is left over, the scraps of metal from factories to provide as some form of income and a way to survive.
With this need to survive and get by, the worn faces of the occupants are ever more focused in on. One photograph which echo’s that of classic portrait painting, a woman standing and looking into the mirror, holding her face, its would be difficult to comprehend the type of worries and woes going on within her head, yet the reflection is what grabs you. It feels as if it’s a painting not a photograph, an aged one at that. In a way, it could be suggested that she is looking into the past of a long history of the same circumstances she finds herself in..
Overall this body of work, as far as contemporary documentary work goes holds plenty to enjoy on a pure aesthetic level, yet if you wish to look deeper, is riddled with ideas and problems these subjects face in day to day life.
Words by Harry Rose