andrei becheru – the fountain

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Andrei Becheru

The Fountain

play this essay

 

I think you come to grasp a place better when you spend a considerable amount of time there; by seeing and listening to everything around you, you develop a constant connection, you react to it, and then, in the end, you distil everything; in my case, with images.

But, first of all, it needs to be a place where everything is found in abundance. It must be a wild territory. A piece of land with a vast history, a land that still bears the mark of past colonizations. A land battered by the tumultuous feet of several generations who lived, fought and died in this place.

When I started (around 2009), I did not view this material in the form of a project. I was traveling in the South of the country where I live, Romania, I had been exploring photography for two years already when I begun to gradually discover this place called Dobruja.

I had read some material, I had seen some documentaries about the Danube Delta, about the hardships which the people inhabiting this area have become accustomed to, or not. I came to know the story of a mining town built in Romania’s Communist era, hidden behind sedimented hills used for copper extractions.

It is difficult to approach the topic surrounding the prosperity of this mining town in the Socialist era, at this point, but one can track down the drastic consequences brought about by the Post-Communist period, consequences mirrored in the people who remained here, on this land ravaged by the effects of industrialization.

After more than a year of exploring this place and starting from a few “trigger” images which illustrate this scenery, I had the impression that I was beginning to discover and approach different subjects. I thought that these images made up a beginning of something that might subsequently crystallize into individual projects. I continued to photograph the day to day life in this scenery. I was conscious of the diversity of the images gathered, but I could not contain them; I felt the need to spread them out.

 

Bio

I, Andrei Becheru, was born in 1984 in Bucharest, Romania.

From early on I chose drawing and painting as means of expression. I completed my studies in the field of design at the National University of Fine Arts of Bucharest in 2007. Absorbed by a past aspiration, which, in the meantime, had become an inner necessity, I started taking photographs three years ago, first on film, and then adopting the digital medium.

One year into digital photography, I nostalgically returned to images on photographic film that had marked my memory.

Presently, I work as an art director for an online fashion store. In parallel with film photography, I began experimenting with moving pictures using an old video camera.

 

33 Responses to “andrei becheru – the fountain”


  • Both the essay and the statement seem incoherent to me. Not really an “essay” at all. Why do dead animals show up in so much photography these days?

    A couple of interesting images in there.

  • I’m sorry, all shots seemed pretty random to me. I am afraid I don’t get it.

  • For me this is also a tough nut to crack. I keep trying to figure out how I would perhaps rearrange photos to make more sense to ME but what I would say with someone else’s words is certainly neither here nor there. Will keep trying; there is always something to be gained I think.

  • J-M-J: Look at the photography. The photography is beautiful. The images are powerful. Random, they exude a strong sense of place – just what the photographer indicated he was trying to do.

  • Bill sometime back you stated that it was your intention to see every essay here as wonderful………..this is hardly a positive approach and of no benefit to the photographer. Here the photographer as written some quasi historical interpretation of events/ideas and tried to match a few images. Ideas are worthy but one has to put the hard work into it all, find a signature and images that clearly give the public something to really be involved with. A real rethink is needed here and Andrei needs someone to assist with direction and editing, someone that doesn’t know his work and can sit down and pick his thoughts

  • Jeff Wall’s compositional and narrative skills are worth a look at by Andrei

  • Imants, while I am not going to go search through everything that I said, you do have a tendency to misinterpret words and I do not believe this is quite what I said and if I somehow misstated my intent, what you say I stated is certainly not what I meant.

    What I tried to say was that I tend to enjoy just about every essay that appears here; I tend to see something excellent in just about all of them. Very seldom do I see anything terrible, poorly done, or something that says, “boy this piece is really lacking.” Or, “this would be better if the photographer had only did this…” I like to see the photographer’s interpretation of his subject and work and not impose my interpretation of what it should be upon it.

    I will admit that in some ways I may not do the photographer all that good not to look for and point out the fault in the photographer’s work, but on the other hand, if I like the work, then I will say I like it.

    What I stated about this work is exactly how the essay strikes me. Exactly. I did not seek to find it wonderful – the photos struck me as strong and beautiful from the moment I saw them.

    You and Jim, on the other hand, tend to be hypercritical and to perpetually find fault where fault does not exist. I do not believe this to be helpful. I am quite certain Andrei did receive assistance with direction and editing – as part of the Burn vetting process. Not infallible guidance and direction perhaps, but expert and critical.

    While I disagree with them, I take Morrissey and jmalbers’ criticism at face value, honest and sincere. I am certain the essay does strike Morrissey at random – because it is. If Andrei were trying to tell a specific, linear, story, then this randomness might be a problem and it might need someone to impose the kind of order on it that jmalbers seeks. But Andrei is not trying to tell a linear story. He is trying to give a sense of a place and the people who live in it. In my opinion, he succeeds very well.

  • I dunno, Frostfrog. Down here in my neck of the woods, at least the dead animals have longnecks cradled in their sad little arms. I hate it when the dead animals just lay there.

  • Sitting down with photographer/editor who is not familiar with your in real time editing via the internet is really a poor substitute a bit like learning to hunt whales in Alaska while living in Florida by correspondence.
    ……. sorry these are not strong images Parr, Peterson, Nachtwey, David produce strong images these are not strong.

  • Jim, I know of no way to respond to your comment. The dead animals in Andrei’s piece are part of what creates the sense of place in his essay.

    Imants, certainly, the images are not Parr, they are not Peterson, they are not Nachtwey, they are not David. They do not need to be. They are Andre Becheru. They are strong. They are beautiful.

    I am sorry you cannot see the strength and beauty in them. Nonetheless, that strength and beauty is there.

  • Sorry, Andrei, for the misspelling above. I should never type out a name without first double-checking, even if I spelled it right the first three times.

  • these are outstanding pictures… why compare?
    great image making….

  • Andrei

    Some interesting images here but I,too, don’t feel any cohesive direction.
    A little too disjointed for me but,perhaps, with time a visual theme will
    emerge.
    I like the voyeuristic image of the old man with the loaf of bread.

  • An alienated young man leaves the city, searching for something. He goes to the country where he finds an entirely different life. Things aren’t so mechanized. There’s a deep well from which the people draw water. It’s like they draw life from the very ground. New life comes into the world. The seasons change. There is death. The land, the plants, the animals, the people all feed one another. One can see the circular nature of these things. The circle of life, so to speak.

    What’s not to understand?

  • Yep. We’re born, we live, we die. Next.

  • You got it exactly right MW! I’m the first one who sometimes forgets to just enjoy an image for what it is and I think this is exactly what’s necessary to feel this work. Look no further than the simple beauty and soul of every image, of course some work better than others but that’s usual.

  • I can make a case for the edit transitions from one image to next, using either geometrical or metaphorical elements as points of departure and arrival. The only times I’m arrested are between images 1 and 2, and 11 and 12. Maybe there is an arcing, elliptical symmetry at these moments – an end of a chapter or introduction – or maybe I’m looking in the wrong direction. These stops confound me, and the mixing of technique (hard versus soft focus and shutter speeds; colour versus monochrome) make it difficult to read as an essay, but an essay nevertheless is here.

    There is nothing wrong with a difficult-to-read story; generally there is more meat to chew and an added satisfaction from that extra pondering which slows our digestion. Compare it to the works of the above-mentioned Salgado, Nachtwey and Peterson, whose techniques are familiar and dare I say, predictable; here, the authorship of image inconsistency becomes itself the technique.

    Is it any different from the many-authored “Road Trip Across America” or this spring’s “Rochester”? With so many authors, the story becomes less about the bias and prejudice of the individual story-teller, and focuses instead on the land and people as subject instead. It becomes less about photographing oneself, more about the thing in front of the photographer. Becheru’s approach is entirely consistent with his artist statement as he places the Delta foremost and himself, sub-ordinate.

  • “Yep. We’re born, we live, we die. Next.”

    By this logic, there is no point in anyone ever trying to take another photo, tell another story or, for that matter, write a poem.

  • “geometrical or metaphorical elements”

    Wow. I’m guessing, then, that I’m not going to find anyone leafing through this in NatGeo down at the barber shop. Kind of limits the audience a little. Too much like art speak to me.

  • Frostfrog, most folks already think poets are fruitcakes and wouldn’t miss them if they all stopped writing!

  • Do we all have different reasons for taking images?

  • Jim, I think the clients at the barbershop leaf through NatGeo because of the work of the magazine’s photo editors. Remember the work David did to show us the sweat equity the editors expended on his Outer Banks story?

    I don’t know if it’s obvious to everyone, or if I’m completely off base with my associations, but to give some examples:

    The window streak in #3 turns into the bisecting sunflare in #4

    The three dead trees in 4 transitions to the poles in 5

    The curve in the road of 5 mimics the curl of the page in 6

    The plane of the book in 6 equals the plane of the well in 7

    Subject looking into the well in 7 has the same viewpoint as the photographer in 8

    The corpse in 8 is taken over by the carcass of the ship in 9

    And so it goes. There is some consideration to editing in this essay. Maybe I’ve just force-fit the elements to work for me, but I don’t see the solitary randomness of the images we may be tricked into seeing, given the differing photographic techniques present.

  • Jim – now you make me smile and chuckle. I was just about to share my one poem with you, but then I decided it was too much of a hijack of Andrei’s thread, so I excised it. Maybe sometime on a pure, anything-and-everything dialogue thread – assuming such threads once again come back into vogue on Burn.

    Paul, I am sure we do, but we all love to take pictures and we are compelled to do so. To this extent, our reasons are the same, beyond that, I suspect they vary as much as we vary as individuals.

  • I take pictures because I love the view of the world through a viewfinder. Within those frame lines I’m god and can impose order on the world. I’ve been doing this so long, I have no idea what a day without photography would look like.

  • I enjoy the melancholic feeling these images evoke and I really like the mix of color/colour and black and white.
    I really don’t care what the essay is about….sorry Andrei if it’s important to you but your images as an essay work really well.
    Great to have discovered your work here on Burn.

  • “I’ve been doing this so long, I have no idea what a day without photography would look like.”
    Jim! Brilliant.

  • Yup, Jim has been the star of this thread; no doubt about it;-).

  • If Jim keeps up with his inspiration very soon he’ll be shooting blurry and grainy out of focus BW images! :)

  • The First thing I do when I come to Burn is look for Jim’s Comments. For real I do …

  • vis-a-vis nothing currently under discussion,

    As I understand it, the world will end next week. This bit of not very good news, and no matter on what side you stand regarding the existential question of why do some people choose to root for the Boston Red Sox, I think that we can all agree that the end of the world counts as not very good news indeed, comes to us courtesy of the ancient Maya, whose calendrical wisdom was such that even people pretending to be relatively sane, like Keynesian economists and life insurance salesmen, bow their heads in profound deference. The end of the world as we know it carries with it no end of special duties and burdens, like spending more time with your family, comforting those distressed by this somewhat unexpected turn of events, going to church and confessing one’s sins or not going to church and committing fresh sins while you still have time to commit them, and I am sure that the IRS will want you to know that, end of the world or not, you will still have to pay your income taxes for the 2012 tax year. Therefore, given the tentative nature of existence post-December 21st, you should file your Form 4868 for an automatic extension of your filing date as soon as possible. Apocalypses and extinction events are all very well and good, you see, but no one gets out of here alive or without paying what they owe to the government. There’s just no way that’s going to happen.

    Now, I know that the Maya, ancient and otherwise, are a Third World—Native American—First Nations—collective noun of your choice people, and as such are filled with virtues, insights, and traditional knowledge permanently denied to vile, decadent, and materialist Euro—American schnooks like me, so I know I shouldn’t question the wisdom of the Maya elders when they foretell the end of the Earth in only a few short days, but I have a question and apparently no one has the answer: if the ancient Mayans were so attuned to the ways of the universe that they could predict when the world was going to end several hundred years in the future, how come they couldn’t predict when the Spanish were going to show up and put an end to their world in the 1500’s?

    I mean, really, you and all your people are one with time, the universe, and everything, and you miss something like a large number of Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants about to show up on your doorstep intent on doing bad stuff to you and yours? How do you miss a megahumongous load of bad karma like that? This was an apocalyptic event for the Maya and no one saw it coming? Was the psychic radar screen in need of adjustment that week? If you ask me, and I know you didn’t but I don’t care, the arrival of the conquistadores was the sort of thing you’d think a very good prophet would have picked up on, especially when the prophet—king—soothsayer had to do his predicting while under the influence of psychedelic drugs and tugging a bit of homemade barbed wire through his genitalia, a feat that hurts just thinking about it. I know I would have predicted all sorts of things if someone were dragging a rope with imbedded stingray spines through my private parts; in fact, I would have predicted anything anyone wanted me to predict in order to get the fish parts out of my parts. The Spanish came intent on kicking ass; in those days it took months to get from Seville to Mayastan. The entire point of the exercise from day one was to get some ass—the mestizos didn’t come from nowhere, folks—kick other people’s ass, and grab as much gold as they could carry before going home and lording it over the peons for the rest of their lives. This is not something the Maya could have found out about by checking the airline passenger manifests for known troublemakers. And it’s not like the conquistadores booked a weekend trip to Cancun and then decided to stay on for a few extra weeks to take advantage of the duty—free looting, pillaging, and forcible converting to Catholicism deals offered by Iberia Airlines. The Spanish came to the Americas packing heat and with loads of malice aforethought on their minds. Something like that didn’t send a major league tsunami through the Maya equivalent of The Force?

    No, it didn’t; the Spanish showed up the same way my Uncle Max used to, unwanted and unexpected, sort of like the flu, except with a better wardrobe, and none of the Maya knew that the Spanish were coming, or if they did, they did nothing about it. That strikes me as being very odd, no two ways about it, so I hope you’ll please pardon me if I think that the Mayan prediction that the world is going to end next Friday is a load of toads’ gonads. Their track record to date doesn’t seem very reliable, if you’ll pardon me for saying so. I still have my money on a nuclear war with the Iranians or the North Koreans. I know that that’s betting the chalk, but I still think that the odds are better.

  • Maybe I’m just not sufficiently versed in photographic philosophy, but I think there is a difference between a good photo and a good essay.

    These are good, maybe in a few cases great, photos, But I’m not seeing the “essay” part here. I see a random set of disjointed pictures, lacking thematic consistency.

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