Foto8 currently has an exhibition on at their gallery by Dana Popa titled ‘After the New Man’. Dana Popa is Romanian herself and this exhibition is looking at the generation born just after the fall of the communist regime. Popa describes the generation she has photographed as a ‘generation that has no memories of communism’, as a result of not being part of this communist history this generation seem to be misplaced in a landscape that still holds the memories of the communist regime.
The exhibition space was fairly typical, with it’s open space and white walls. Each photograph was numbered but no description of the work on the walls, instead the descriptions were on an A4 piece of paper, which you collected at the door. The photographs numbers matched up with a description on the paper. I quite enjoyed the way they were numbered, by numbering the photographs there was a clear order to view them, in which I felt I must stick to. By having this order the exhibition became reminiscent of viewing a book, in that you became compelled to see the work the way and in the order the photographer intends. I had the odd issue when viewing the work as each photograph was behind glass, causing a glare on some of the images ruining the experience a little. The positioning of some of them made it slightly awkward to view as they were mounted behind the receptionists desk, making the work seem cramped in this space.
Moving on from the physical layout of the exhibition I thought that the concept of Dana Popa’s work was very clear. From the background research I did before visiting the exhibition I found out that she aimed to photograph the everyday youth, to capture the moment when they reveal themselves and aren’t reacting to her presence.
What I enjoyed about ‘After the New Man’ is that although Popa was photographing the generation born after the communist regime, she did not restrict herself to a series of portraits. The body of work looks at the landscape and still lives within Romania, which I found refreshing as I went around the exhibition, as they were integrated throughout the portraits of this generation. It also helped to communicate a wider overview of the Romanian culture at the present time to the viewer. For me the series painted quite a depressive atmosphere about the country at this time and the descriptions to accompany the photographs only aided me to come to this conclusion. Now there is no communism they are free to travel and leave their home, many do not feel they belong and want to travel.
“Now I can see better the blocks of flats we live in, like cages, one on top of another.” – One of the descriptions about a photograph in the series.
Dana Popa gives an vivid description of Romania at this present time, whether it is accurate I am not sure as I do not know much about the Romanian culture. But her background and experience of coming from there have helped her in creating a powerful body of work on this generation.