Life in Romania photographs by Andrei Pandele
October 24, 2013 1 Comment
There was an interesting article on the BBC website about the photographs by Andrei Pandele of life in Romania between 1975 and 1989. I found some of the photographs at this online gallery. There are others if you search for them. These photographs show a lot of places in Bucharest that can no longer be seen because they were demolished by Ceausescu to make room for his concrete “blocks” (commie-style apartment buildings) and “The Palace”. Take a look. There well worth a few minutes of your time.
Photographer Andrei Pandele is emphatic: “The Palace? Ha! It is a wall in the way of the people. A dam, even.”
We have met in a tea shop in the old Jewish quarter of Bucharest. There are photographs from his collection on every wall.
They’re exceptional images rarely caught on camera, but then Andrei is an exceptional man – tall, dignified and handsome at 65.
It is thanks to his fearless vision that Ceausescu’s relentless attack on Bucharest can be seen stage by stage – as if peeling away the layers of an onion.
“I was an architect,” he explains. “I could find plans [and] approximate what they would destroy. Not exactly, no-one knew that. They were wild, totally out of control.”
Seven square kilometres of the city centre were destroyed to make way for the Palace of the People. Andrei wanted to take some pictures before old Bucharest disappeared altogether.
A city caught in its very own Armageddon. Andrei preserved a Bucharest that no longer exists – the exquisite glass-covered market, the archways, cobbled streets, the vine-clad villas, the city once called the “little Paris of the East”.
“After two years of photographing the architectural destruction I decided that it was very bad, but it was even worse that they were ruining the lives of 22 million people. So I began to take pictures of everyday life. I think they are much more striking.”