New East Digital Archive

Photo of the week: a Romanian artist asks, how do you represent the erasure of history?

Photo of the week: a Romanian artist asks, how do you represent the erasure of history?

6 January 2017

Andreea Teleaga deals with collective memory and its erasure in her native Romania, themes that have particular poignancy in a country that has experienced communism and revolution in its recent past.

Born four years after the Romanian revolution and the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime in 1989, and having never experienced communism, the artist recounts living in its shadow.

“After almost half a century of communism and 25 years after its fall, its ghost is still walking through the former communist country. An entire national identity was eroded and the memory of the landscape started to fade away,” Teleaga writes in her artist’s statement for the series Erased, which the image is taken from.

This lingering, ghost-like presence of communism is envisaged by what at first appears as mist gathering at the peak of a hilltop in Teleaga’s photo, but it’s actually a blemish made by the artist scratching the surface of the negatives with sandpaper.

“I photographed the landscapes in Romania. When I came back, I processed them and they got destroyed. These four images were what I could rescue from the films. After printing the images, I destroyed the negatives even more, influenced by the Communist party and how they used to manipulate photographs for their propaganda,” the now London-based artist describes.

The image and overall series builds on Teleaga’s interest in Romanian history and image manipulation, which she has combined previously in a self-published book of montages entitled Communist Nightmare in Romania.

See more photos from the series here.