In the past 10 years, more than three million Romanians have left the country. About a fourth of Romanians live abroad — the highest proportion of any EU country. The social phenomenon is now drawing the focus of Romania’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which this year centres on the question: “how will we live together?”
Mixing documentary photography, archive materials, text, and audio installations, Romania’s show Fading Borders, curated by the architectural practice POSTER, consists of two parts. One showcases Shrinking Cities by creative association IDEILAGRAM, a research project into a small Romanian town which has seen four fifths of its population leave since 1989. The other shows Away, a photojournalistic project by the on-the-road Teleleu team (journalist Elena Stancu and photographer Cosmin Bumbuț), that follows the individual stories of Romanian emigrants to Western Europe.
The exhibition does not frame mass emigration as a negative phenomenon, instead questioning the implications it has on urban and sustainable development.
“We’re interested in contemporary migration, which has become more rapid and short-term, rooted in aspirations for a better life — an optimistic migration,” curator Stefan Simion told The Calvert Journal. “Our idea relies on contrasting the permanence of architecture and towns, and the transitory nature of the people who move from place to place.”