The Danube Delta is the largest among European river deltas. Located in Romania’s easternmost region bordering Ukraine, its territory is the last frontier of the European Union. The Delta area is extremely peripheral, sparsely populated, wild and historically isolated. Due to its complex internal geography, it appears as a huge natural labyrinth: an extension of reeds, channels and water repeats itself identically for more than 3000 km2. Its inhabitants have learnt to live in solitude, following the regular and inevitable rhythm of natural cycles. The succeeding of seasons and landscape mutations define the pace of life and influence moods, personal needs and interpersonal relationships.
The present project, which is the outcome of four years of work, is an immersive journey into the bowels of the Delta and a psycho-geographical experiment. On one hand, the images document the deep bond that connects the territory and its inhabitants. I was interested in representing in which manner such an extreme environment impacts on self-perception, relationship with the Other and one’s expectations about the future.
Inevitably, over time, this research has become my own process of domestication and understanding of the landscape. Arid and forgotten in winter, exuberant and dazzling in spring, the Delta has been a sounding board amplifying my most profound fears, doubts, desires and fantasies. This perception has structured my relationship with the physical space, transforming the Delta into a metaphor of the inner labyrinth we all inhabit.
* The Delta Project consists of two sections, complementary to each other and equally relevant. The first one collects the photographic work and offers a purely visual narrative. The second one contains a large account based on my field notes. Two different languages telling the same story create a feedback circle where each one fills the other’s voids and the narrative possibilities enhance.
ETHNOGRAPHY AS AN ARTISTIC PRACTICE
Past collaborations with anthropologists have contaminated my working methodology. Since my first trip to the Delta, I have been inspired by the idea of conducting some sort of ethnography myself. Therefore, I’ve established the routine of registering my daily experiences on the field in a notebook. The result is a diary made up of descriptive notes, interviews excerpts, personal reflections and short fictions. A hybrid text that proposes a second version of the story and complements the photographic narrative.
In order to capture and visualize the relationship between the inhabitants of the Delta and the landscape in the most intuitive and immediate way, I have asked some of the people I’ve met to draw by memory a map of the territory.
L. Housewife and fisherwoman, Sulina
C. Fisherman, Sulina
A worker from Tulcea, mainland
N. Teeage, Sulina
G. 87 years old, Chilia Veche