A guide to the New East

Urban pastoral: playful photo collages that celebrate Romania’s eclectic homes

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In her childhood, photographer Felicia Simion lived between two homes: the city of Craiova, situated in southwestern Romania, and the village of Ciocanesti, where she would visit her grandparents. “In the city, my family and I lived in a two-room apartment block with four floors. As a child, I would make friends with the neighbours from our building and surrounding areas. We didn’t have a yard to play in, so we would bring our blankets and toys in front of the building and play there until our parents called us back home,” she recalls. Her grandparents, by comparison, had a large yard and garden, which Simion remembers with great fondness: “What a joy it was to smell the flowers, pick up some plums or take water from the fountain.” Her photo-collage series Home merges the comforts of both the rural and urban. The buildings that appear in the project demonstrate a wide-range of Romanian architecture, which has transformed over the last decade. Simion photographed these constructions out of a car window whilst driving through Bucharest, Craiova, Constanta, the rural areas of Southern Romania and the Danube Delta. Placed in the centre of the frame, they appear just like portraits. “What I tried to do was to make the houses stand out as much as possible, by taking them out of their original context and placing them in a natural and peopleless setting,” says Simion, who currently resides in Bucharest. Freeing city dwellings from crowded streets to green pastures, and reviving derelict houses abandoned in the countryside, the photographer gives them the space to blossom into homes.

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