It’s refreshing to land on Italian born, Romania-based photographer Michele Bressan‘s website, where I’m prompted to read Bressan’s essay on each series before I actually view any imagery. My emotions are now packed his perspective, mixed with my anticipation, guiding me. In his descriptive essays describing abandoned or reckoned cinemas in Romania, the photographer pairs his perspective with the outcome from a snap at his camera: eery and alive photography.
Browse through and imagine that you yourself are seated, waiting:
“Cinemas are made to be looked past them, stay unnoticed to the viewer while they reveal the spectacle. Like Marc Auge’s non places, they are containers, rhythmic and automated in form and activity. When lighten and empty, they expose their context and status, revealing the viewer a reality he isn’t familiar with. Using the time between two screenings to create a new scenario, the series regards the story of these transition spaces in their own transition as past traces and in the same time as present landmarks of the Romania’s visual identity.”
“Out of the 290 state cinema halls in Romania, only 29 function at present, the remaining have been sold, converted into bingo halls, clubs, parking spaces, commercial centers or left to decay. The cinemas which were subject to documentation, all property of the state, have lost the audience from their best times (before 2000) to alternative entertainment spaces or full-serviced mall cinemas. They are being avoided by spectators and are awaiting uncertain change in status, ownership or purpose.”
“The few transformations they received over time, mostly reconditioning the original structure, preserved these space’s aesthetics (’70-’80s), therefore referring to the visual state of recent history. Behind the documentary approach the images became a study of form, in which rhythm or even simple repetition can make things apear more than they are. They can atract or distract attention, through convenient differences between coordinates. The structure of the halls, once lighten, appears more contemplative than its functionality allows it.”
*The way he sets up his photo sets, pivoting as a storyteller first, then camera man.