The Dissidents' Travel Guide - Vacaresti Lake 2011 - 2014
Vacaresti Lake is an artificial lake located in the middle of a residencial area of Bucharest, build by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, but never finished. At the time of filming, it was inhabited by 39 people: men, women, and underage children, who due to a lack of a proper social wellfare system in Romania, took refuge in improvised shelters in the former lake, which over the years had turned into a swamp. The video follows one permanent inhabitant of the lake taking me on a guided tour while shedding light on his personal story: how he ended up living there, how the small lake community functions, how the lake turned into a swamp where rare bird species breed in Spring, how the authorities are constantly persecuting the already troubled inhabitants, or how they try to solve the problems of raising children under given circumstances. His story ends with a comparison between Nicolae Ceausescu's version of Communism, and the situation of contemporary Capitalist Romania.
Vacaresti Lake is part of the project The Dissidents' Travel Guide, which functions as a fragmented and fragmentary rendering of the contemporary nature of the traditional documentary form, while engaging a study of the post-ism identity in dealing with a globalized non-ethics, which is proposed to govern social spheres worldwide. The project, consisting out of photography, essays, an artists publication, and installation, mimics travel guide logic by briefly showcasing real life situations in an impartial way, while proposing the nature and core of dissidency to be reached only through experience by proximity, i.e. through a conscious documentary approach.
Thanks to the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam, NL, Lokaal 01, Antwerp, BE, the Materiaalfonds, Amsterdam, NL, and Gallery Joey Ramone, Rotterdam, NL. A special thanks to those who contributed to the project.