Michele Bressan – Wellness
Michele Bressan focuses on documenting aspects of the romanian post-communist reality, using the photographic medium as a means of artistic research. By the practice of portraying his surroundings through series having the typology of a subjective journal, or by a more distant approach, he offers a comment, and in the same time the possibility to relate to a scene, witnessing the particularities and mechanisms of a society in a slow transition process.
The project documents the Romanian touristic destinations along with their aesthetic, functional and situational contradictions, in the recent years all Romanian tourist areas suffering by severe economic and social alterations.
Once, they used to be the only vacation alternative for the citizens of Romania, as people were not allowed to travel outside the country during Communism. Before 1989, Romanian tourist resorts, either on the Black Sea or in the Carpathian Mountains, drew the entire population seeking for relaxation during summer or winter holidays. A two-week holiday in one of these places was affordable even for the most humble of families. As a consequence, these regions relied heavily on tourism from an economic point of view. They were also quite profitable, due to the high amount of tourists who were visiting each year. Once the borders of Romania were opened and Communist tourism industry collapsed in the transition years of the 1990s, these areas were abandoned both by the visitors, and also by the Romanian state, that was actually their lawful owner.
Moreover, tourist resorts were no longer competitive on the local and international market. In most cases, the sudden transformation from upscale wellness resorts to derelict deserted areas left them in a precarious state. In the following years, some of the remaining functional businesses such as hotels and hostels, tried to combine the preservation of the Communist aesthetics from their Golden Era with more modern attributes.
From the “Romanian Holidays Destinations” project
The wealthy resorts were attractive because of their resources of thermal water. After 1989, they declined towards the level of quasi-religious transit spaces related to health and consumption. Treatment techniques became somewhat obsolete as a therapeutic method. Consequently, its original users along with the area in general lost its tourist value, which was previously related to curing facilities. Also, private residences and top of the line hotels that were once the subject of envy and distant admiration were abandoned. There are new resort opportunities in other destinations, either locally or internationally. They offer cheaper services of higher quality. The once-to-be pride of the state, the local resort, became a private burden, as the many of the buildings changed owners without having been fully refurbished, or used to their full capacity.
Michele Bressan (b. 1980) is a visual artist working with photography and film, based in Bucharest since 1993. In 2011 he started working with large format cameras, focusing mostly on the landscape. From this point he starts the landscape studies series, an ongoing project in which the Romanian landscape is presented as more individualized scenes, with the intention to offer an image which works as a container of situations and relations , emphasizing even more the observer role, both of the photographer and the viewer.
Michele’s works comes from the everyday, it defines the environment by archiving familiar situations and aesthetics landmarks, often marking the collision between the familiar and the strange.