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PORTFOLIO

17.04.2015

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1989: the year that shocked the world. Within a few short months the much-feared ‘spectre of communism’ let loose by Karl Marx one century and a half earlier, disappeared from the European scene, seemingly overnight. On June 4th of that year, Poland held the first free democratic elections in the Eastern Block, on June 27th the long-divided border between Hungary and Austria opened and, on November 9th the Berlin Wall fell. One day later, Bulgaria’s eternal dictator, Todor Schiwkow, resigned, and on December 10th, the Velvet Revolution declared victory in the CSSR. The final chapter of one of Eastern Europe’s toughest – and most bizarre – dictatorships was written in Romania a few days later: Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu were finally forced to relinquish control of Timisoara, because half the population – 150 000 people – were rebelling in the streets. The uprising quickly spread to the capital, Bucharest. The Ceausescus escape on December 22 was cut short when the couple was arrested within a few hours. A military tribunal sentenced the former dictators to death after a 90-minute mock trial on December 25th and executed them within minutes of delivering the verdict: justice for the genocide of 64 000 people through cold, starvation and lack of medical care.

Many photographers who travelled to Romania after the revolution documented the gruesome conditions in the country’s orphanages. Joseph Rodriguez did likewise, but in addition to the suffering, he also searched to establish visual contact with the villages and the industrial regions. From time to time, he even appears to have stumbled upon carefree scenes with people who seem to have regained a certain joie de vivre; but those moments are few and far between. If they are even able to hold eye contact, his protagonists’ eyes mostly reflect insecurity, sorrow and pain.

More photos can be seen in the current issue of LFI.

Joseph Rodriguez

Born in New York, Rodriguez studied Photography and Natural Sciences. He worked as a graphic artist before turning fully to photography and studied at the International Center of Photography. The pictures from Romania were takenwith a Leica M2, M6 and Summicron-M 35 and 50 mm lenses. His book, Romania, is available as an ebook on iTunes.

www.josephrodriguezphotography.com
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