Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Contact sheets after first selection
& interview sum up
On May 10th , 11th and 12th I visited the village of Geamana, located in Alba County, for my project. There I took many interviews, and I learned many things. The initial project began in 1977 and was led by Nicolae Ceausescu.
Initially there was talk of an expropriation of the land, and later the great toxicity began. It is a copper mine, which is extracted with uranium. Uranium is very toxic to the human body. I found out that 325 houses were in the valley, only 12-15 survived. The government has planned a program to move the cemetery, but the money has disappeared, and the cemetery is covered by the toxic lake. The people there have been left without any help, without any money. If something happens, the ambulance takes 2 hours to this village.
The people are also very friendly and open, so I came across a villager who accommodated me and told me a lot. That is how I ended up sleeping in “Casuta din padure” (The tiny house from the forest), created by the child of Geamana.
The village was populated: full of people, full of children, with approx. 325 families living there. All that can be seen with mud was the village and the houses, and the church is on the top, a hundred meters away. The level difference is over 100 meters. There were shops and schools. The water started to rise in the 80's. In 1974 the exploitation started, when they brought materials for combine: cement, by helicopter, because then was no other acces (now there are 3 accesses). Unfortunately, the villagers did not realize in time what was happening “I was young, I didn't realize, only later, that it was going to be a disaster, and I started photographing the church."
At the beginning, surveyors came to evaluate people's goods, in order to compensate them, the soils were made in several classes for compensation. Many remained uncompensated, because the revolution came, and Ceausescu's project was abandoned. The cars coming for the mine are from Serbia, and the copper concentrate is given to them. After all this disaster, we have no benefits. Copper is not even processed here; everything is sent for export. The lake has 3 colours due to the substances added to it. They are forced by the EU to stop the toxicity of water, the water being very acidic, and the acid is quenched with a base.
The tailings are the waste that comes from the extraction of the copper concentrate. The tailings are ground stone in semi-liquid form, so that they can be pushed with the pumps into the dam. There are 4 pipes around the church, that is why the water there became grey. The green and red part is the result of other substances that comes through the rain washing of the halts. I found out that an experiment was made, with a machinery brought from China. They took a bit from the composition of the water and made a very thin sheet of copper. The final project predicts that water will continue to rise. All the water must reach under the road that surrounds the lake. The water will never reach the road, but the church will be completely covered. It is still a deposit for 25 years.
The selection was made based on the stories behind the images and based on how powerful they are.
I consider that I have reached my goal, I am very satisfied with the final pictures.
Even though, at first people were very reluctant, which made my job difficult, after a while we became friends and they even invited me to their home, and they opened up a lot, which was a big achievement.
I will definetely use this invitation in the future for a new collaboration, a new project. Even if I met many people, I didn't manage to make the desired number of portraits. I would have liked to have more portraits.
My initial idea was to take pictures of people using that colourful water, but my idea was not possible, because that water was so acidic that it burns people's skin. However, I'm not upset at all, because after I got there and saw how many opportunities the place offered, I gave free rein to my thoughts and started shooting what was possible and at hand. I can say that the conditions are not the most favorable, but it is worth it, because I was rewarded with wonderful pictures.