Daniela Groza – Where I Come From
“Imagine a gay Romanian woman driving alone and sometimes accompanied around the country where she grew up, in a tiny car with a medium format film camera and a heart on fire, thousands of miles. Imagine shooting a project that *happened* because there was always a calling – it HAD to happen. In 2012, my passion for photography was becoming serious. I found myself being drawn to my roots and roots are important. When I saw ‘La Grande Bellezza’ I understood I had something terribly important to share about where I am from. For my country mostly. As far as I know I am the only Romanian female documentary photographer to have started working on assembling an image of contemporary Romania. So I must thank Simina Badica, a fellow Romanian and scholar, whose essay ‘Historicizing the Absence: The Missing Photographic Documents of Romanian Late Communism’ helped me realize the fundamental importance for this project. After reading her brilliant foray, and maybe the only foray, into the realm of visual arts in Romania, I realized there is minimal dialogue to be had over the topic of photography and its historical implications. That begs for a change.
I am interested in understanding psychological landscapes in Romania – our muddled sense of identity derived from greed projected uncannily into our environment, a capitalistic mindset easily adopted for lack of a historical pathology of strength. We are a survivor nation – the kind that never gets up because we are followers of trends rather than seekers of a personal ‘style’. Style is courage and curiosity and a perennial sense of growth, it’s like discovery in a kaleidoscope, and discovery is never-ending. Our pace is slow and confused and misdirected. I hope through my images to show the existence of desire for pleasure (still) and despair, the tension that allows the soul to oscillate between contemplation and pondering over the effect the human mind has on the inhabited terrain and vice-versa.”
Daniela describes herself as “An agile Romanian sportswoman with a humanistic bent, trained first in Architecture then Italian Literature and Philosophy at UCBerkeley, I felt lost after graduation, with no purpose in sight besides taking a hearty bite out of life. Armed with mounds of cash from restaurant jobs and a saved up scholarship, I decided to feel my way in this world backwards, travelling and living like a nomad, soaking in anything and everything unfamiliar. An immigrant’s nightmare and dream in unison, all ties loose. This living was as exciting as it was uneasy, too many scattered puzzle pieces. We all know a fertile mind never stops sowing, so after many years of mulling over vocational vocabularies (from cook, to cheesemonger, food photographer, to stylist – all tied together by sensory beauty I would like to think), in 2012 the big break happened, all ties came to a knot at the mystical age of 29: since then it didn’t take long to want to aspire towards mastery in a field that is ever challenging and universally engaging – I am a self-taught photographer, shooting medium format on most projects. All of that for this – if curiosity about understanding one’s personal myth is the secret to enjoying this earthly existence, well then, I am now the happiest human alive. ”
More images from “Where I Come From” and other very interesting series on Daniela Groza’s website.