Several egg cartons, aglow in orange street lights, lie on the cobblestones. School hasn’t started yet, and the only two kids on the street seem too busy with their phones to crush the cartons under their bike tires. The dogs are either sparing their voices or simply unfazed - they recognize all the humans around them. Small squares are tattooed with faded old graffiti tags. People’s currency is the plastic cups of coffee dispensed by the ATM-lookalike vending machines. Bushes like mourning garments shroud the cemeteries; cemeteries of ethnicities no longer present and factories no longer in use.
Welcome to Orăștie. A small Transylvanian city. One of those small cities that are getting smaller. It’s experiencing this phenomenon of shrinking, which entails coping with disproportions in population numbers, despite the global population growth trend. Boom towns and shrinking peripheries are now being artistically and culturally explored in the context of the new East. This is being contemplated through interdisciplinary kaleidoscopes, even though it is orientalized, as Agata Pyzik points out.
We’re talking Hometown here - the civilian's imaginary, an idyll crafted out of naturally selected memories. If I were to choose a superpower with which to invest Hometown, it would be to send the viewer poles apart from the images the eye is comfortable with and from the consumerism-related places of wonder: those cathedrals of consumption. The altar of Hometown is a single mother’s basement, the prayer is techno, the attire is second hand clothing, and the only use for candle wax taken from the cemetery is to slick spots for skateboarding.
Over borders, home is Eastern Europe. Waves of red-yellow-blue, the country of whose nostalgia is layered, of whose millennials have hyper-fast internet, plenty of acquaintances over borders and firm plans to go abroad as well. Home is one of those places where migration is a choice, but not a privilege. And Hometowns, the tiny cities, once diamonds of a peculiar Socialism, suffer now from depopulation or are falling apart sooner than authorities come to their rescue. In Hometowns, sooner or later as passengers, people return.
extracts from the afterword by Jasmina Al-Qaisi, part of the photo-book
As part of Hometown, there is Happy Holidays, a video installation consisting a tryptic of short vignettes depicting Hometown's Christmas atmosphere.