Articles Tagged with: Romania
Bucharest | Gypsy Apartments

I love the Romani people and I seek them out wherever I travel in Europe.

I am always warmly received by them and conversely, most every place where they reside, they are marginalized and on the outskirts of society, the latter being their choice as well. Have just always curious about these people.

In Romania, there were many gypsies and in Bucharest, they were scattered throughout the city instead of just occupying one neighborhood or corner. I was walking along this road, just lost and wandering as always when I saw this group of kids. The cluster of apartments formed a gypsy enclave of just a handful of Romani families. Spent just a few minutes playing with the kids, talking to their father.

There were many kids absent from the photos as he has fourteen of them.

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Gypsy Apartment, Bucharest, Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Romania | The Shepherd

We were driving north about an hour out of Bucharest when I saw the cluster of sheep on the horizon. The land at this point had flattened out into a billiard table plain and the only feature besides the road and the power lines running along side was this flock of sheep. We pulled over and trudged through the soft ground. The sheep dogs came out early and challenged us and the fixer I was with, froze in fear. Lots of issues with feral dogs in Bucharest. The shepherd appeared from his shack and admonished the dogs and the dogs were still barking at us and the fixer called out that we wanted to talk to him for a bit so soon the flat plain was full of shouting and barking.

Everyone settled down soon enough.

The shepherd was happy that we were there as he did not get a lot of visitors. He did not have any tea to offer but a bottle of palinka, the Romanian fruit brandy grain. The shack where he lived was just clapboard and blankets, a small stove and pots and mugs. This was not his flock of sheep, he said, but he acted as a caretaker for two villages who pooled their sheep and goats together. He milked the goats and delivered the milk daily.

I turned around slowly in a complete circle to take in the vast plain. Except for road gutting it down the middle, there was nothing but those two villages and some hills on the horizon. The through line to the past was strong and a straight line in that moment. I asked him if there had been a shepherd here, in his role for a long time. Maybe hundreds of years? Without hesitation he said that this had always been pastureland and the two villages had been there for at least a thousand years, so yes, there was always a shepherd here.

I was taken back to all the folktales I had read, stories from when I was a kid in the states of harsh winters, woodcutters, strange visitors from the forest.

And what about wolves, I asked.

Not much anymore. Too many people, he said. But that is why I have the dogs.

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Romania; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Josef Koudelka | Gypsies

Finally.

After 35 years, Koudelka’s amazing Gypsies has been released in a new edition by Aperture. With 30 never before seen images and a design that reflects Koudelka’s original intentions, the book is a gorgeous testament to the life of the Roma between 1962 and 1971 in Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, France and Spain. After being out of print for so many years, I can finally stop my ceaseless hunting in used bookstores, sit back on the couch, and let Koudelka’s eye take me through the lives of the Roma 40 years ago.

Personally, I have had the good fortune of always being able to do what I wanted, never working for others. Maybe it is a silly principle, but the idea that no one can buy me is important for me. I refuse assignments, even for projects that I have decided to do anyhow. It is somewhat the same with my books. When my first book, the one on the gypsies, was published, it was hard for me to accept the idea that I could no longer choose the people to whom I would show my photos, that any one could buy them.

– Josef Koudelka

Slovakia, 1967. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

Slovakia, 1967. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

If a picture is good, it tells many different stories.

– Josef Koudelka

Bohemia, 1966. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

Bohemia, 1966. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

I was never paid for anything in Czechoslovakia, so it was easy to accept not being paid in the West. Also, I was used to a lower living standard.

– Josef Koudelka

France, 1970. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

France, 1970. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

For me, the most beautiful thing is to wake up, to go out, and to look. At everything. Without anyone telling me “You should look at this or that.” I look at everything and I try to find what interests me, because when I set out, I don’t yet know what will interest me. Sometimes I photograph things that others would find stupid, but with which I can play around. Henri as well says that before meeting a person, or seeing a country, he has to prepare himself. Not me, I try to react to what comes up. Afterwards, I may come back to it, perhaps every year, ten years in a row, and I will end by understanding.

– Josef Koudelka

Spain, 1971. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

Spain, 1971. From the book, Koudelka: Gypsies. © Josef Koudelka, Magnum Photos

When I travel, I don’t even know where I am going to sleep, I don’t think of the place where I will lie down until the moment I roll out my sleeping bag. It’s a rule that I’ve set for myself. Because I told myself that I must be able to sleep anywhere, since sleep is important. In the summer I often sleep outdoors. I stop working when there is no more light, and I start again in the early morning. I do not feel this to be a sacrifice, it would be a sacrifice to live otherwise. As for my points of reference, I don’t know what they would be.

– Josef Koudelka