By Elena Sirețanu
Eastern European Roots
Like anyone else, I have always aspired to live somewhere in the West. However, now that I am, I find myself going back to Eastern Europe and being inspired by places I did not pay much attention when I was a child. Despite the same wearing immobility of life I encounter every time I go back, my roots are there- in the post-soviet Republic of Moldova. Usually, what the world has seen and heard about Eastern Europe, are only dramatic and symbolic images. But this is not all. Life, for the most part, is trivial.
We are the ones left behind, we are the needy relatives, the old-fashioned, uninformed, unlucky, troubled, sentimental. The ones who don’t answer letters, the ones who miss the great opportunities of life, the hard drinkers, the deadline missers, the promise breakers, the ones who insult each other to death but cannot break off relations. We are the ones unable to cope with the demands of a normal social environment. We are cheap labour, you can buy products from us at a lower price. Our letters are unnecessarily detailed.1 And we can blame everything- all our private, public problems on the government.
My own work is self-labelled as documentary photography, out of a lack of a better title. By carrying a camera daily, I aim to embody the spirit of the Brownie in making the means to photography ready to me at every moment, without obstruction – by doing so, I can take a photograph of anything that captures my eye and interests me enough to preserve. Any of us can do this these days, with a camera readily available in our pockets around the clock – and many of us do so without even thinking about it. Next time you take your phone out to take a photograph, whether it is of your friends or of something that caught your eye, think about how you are participating in the act of documenting your life through photography. Make prints of your favourites, display them on your walls, share them with your friends and family. Follow the tradition of those who came before you and took their own snapshots documenting their lives. Everyone is a documentary photographer today, and this is a good thing.