Romanian Landscapes

Humans have always adapted to their environment, and adapted their environments to suit themselves, but we are now adapting our planet to fulfil the will of global forces, market movements, and political manifestations. This is an environment shaped not by natural movements, but by ideologies. In this context the role of land, city, and economy are becoming inseparable as a globalised system that the individual is left with no choice but to find a place within.

 Lake Tașaul, a lagoon bordering the Petromidia refinery close to Constanta on the Black Sea.

Lake Tașaul, a lagoon bordering the Petromidia refinery close to Constanta on the Black Sea.

Continuing his long-term and ongoing body of landscape work, BAFTA nominated film-maker and photographer Richard John Seymour’s newest project brings Romania into focus. After being awarded the Romanian Cultural Institute Grant for Foreign Journalists in 2015, he travelled there to focus on the environmental issues of a country still dealing with the trauma of communism and post-industrialisation.

From the underground Salt Mines discovered in the 11th century now used as a subterranean theme park, to Europe’s largest onshore wind farm, to entirely submerged villages sacrificed for the gain of a nearby Copper Mine, to the sites of the ‘worst environmental disaster in Europe since Chernobyl’, Romania’s landscape is filled with narrative, contradiction, and projections of failed and future visions for a better (or more profitable) world.

Referencing techniques of 19th century painters to carry allegory and narrative through depictions of landscape, Cartographies of Man aims to question the nature of landscape in the 21st century and bring into discussion issues surrounding the environment, our conception of it, and ultimately our compatibility with our own planet.

 At the entrance to Lacul Morii in Bucharest, men from the area converge to fish on the ice.

At the entrance to Lacul Morii in Bucharest, men from the area converge to fish on the ice.