The Landscape of My Cultural Identity
I was born and grew up in Oradea, with roots reaching back through my family into past centuries. By the time I emigrated to the West in October 1960, I was almost 14 years old. I departed a province of serene beauty with flowing springs, lush pastures, and wildflower meadows. It was and still is considered to be the last truly medieval landscape of Europe. A journey through its fortress towns and fortified churches feels like reliving decades of the past. It is a site where horse-drawn carts still rumble along dirt roads, while shepherds tend their flocks and villagers make hay in the sunshine; and the local music transports listeners to Transylvania’s mountain villages.
Transylvania – Eastern Europe’s most captivating region has been associated with Hungary for many centuries. At the end of WWI, it was united with Romania. Today, ethnic Hungarians make up approximately 20% of the Transylvanian population, half of which are the Székely, thought to be the descendants of Attila the Hun.
In this “Back to my Roots” project, I would like to create a documentary-style book with a collection of images that echo the spirit and soul of the Transylvanian region. A photo essay of portraits, landscapes, and visual elements from all parts of the borough that examines the trickle-down ‘past’ into the present; describing timeless moods and pastoral life immersed in nature, herding sheep, walking up and down wooded hills. This visual storytelling would evidence poignant moments of human life, beauty, and the complex character of rural living in the 21st century. It would timelessly preserve the portrait of a vanishing lifestyle, and a historical testimony that documents the lives of the Magyar people in Erdély.
About the Book
This book will attempt to illustrate a deep aesthetic narrative and social texture about life in the entire Transylvania region. The thematic consistency of different types of media and photographic approaches - including still life, documentary, portraiture as well as writing will produce a study on rural life in Transylvania in the form of a traditional photo essay.
[On the website (exclusively dedicated to the project), we would geo-tag to extend the project and map the images.]
The poignancy and power of these photographs will be created against a historical backdrop and would be accompanied by cherished personal possessions of local residents. It would also include local events (celebrations of sorts) to contextualize a more in-depth and nuanced perspective. A longer-term commitment to the photography stage (12 months) subdivided into 4 seasons could garner astounding returns. A powerful continuum of work (curating, editing, post-production, and text writing) will support awareness and deeply influence the reader’s curiosity about the region’s history and landscape. In an age when we're saturated with a barrage of singular imagery, a photo essay is a preferred method to draw our attention, often in different and more meaningful ways.