"The strangeness of familiarity.
As a visual artist, I can only say I was blessed to be born in Romania. In my country, almost everything is a picture.
I do not have to search for images, I just live my life and pictures happen. Actually, the more I live my life the better
my images get. People here have a specific quality, a sort of external image of poverty mixed together with profound
internal abundance and creativity. A wonderful balance of roughness and sensibility. It all just comes together
naturally, like an old pair of shoes you’ve worn thousands of times, they look worn out, but they’re your favorite
pair, they’re comfortable, and then there’s all the memories you have together, places you’ve been, people you’ve
met. You look at them and they make you smile.
There is a lot of beauty in familiarity, like the classic Dacia car made in communist Romania, a symbol of
nostalgia. All Romanians look upon it with fondness, especially the older generations but not because it was made
in communist times but because it used to be the Romanian all inclusive family car. There are countless personal
family memories attached to the car’s instantly recognizable image.
As a child I was, and still am, passionate about nature. I used to collect cactus plants, I had over 100 species of cacti
and over 300 plants in total, I liked looking at them and I did it almost every day. As I watched every individual
plant I knew every plants story of how I came to possess it. Some I grew from seed, some I bought from other
collectors, there were some I got as a gift and some I stole from botanical gardens. There was always a story there.
So, for me the image of each cactus plant contained this precious memory of time spent together.
Family pictures work the same way, there is the picture, the actual physical photograph, and then there is the
memory attached to it, the metaphysical or spiritual side of the image. My approach to photography is similar to
the family snapshot, yet somehow it is the opposite, I already have the memory and I’m now searching, or rather
waiting for the memory to manifest itself. The result is strangely familiar." Ovidiu Gordan
Ovidiu Gordan, #32 from the series 'Familiar Place' (2007-17), inkjet print, 30cm x 45cm, courtesy Ovidiu Gordan/Open Editions .Co
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