INSIDE OUTSIDE UNDER BUCHAREST
2013 – 2016
A hole in the ground. A border between two parallel universes.
When we first visited their subterranean house in Bucharest city centre, we never expected that over time we would become part of their family. Children, aged up to forty years, were the street tribe of Gara de Nord.
Trained by violence, they have learned to growl in order to be heard. Many of them, growing up without parents and in social exclusion, bear the marks of early-discovered drug-addiction, disease and prison. Sometimes, it seems they rush towards death on purpose and sadly some have told me it is so.
Yet, by themselves they recognised the values of hospitality and sharing. In search of affection and safety, these kids have given each other mutual support gathering around a fatherly and authoritative figure. With a few rules, easily misunderstood by the ‘civilized’ world, they managed to found a small community opposed to the society above ground.
The leading figure of the group, a charismatic and experienced man called Bruce Lee, spent the last few years trying to provide a comfortable house for the community to stay in. He was proud to show their struggle for self-sustenance, despite being neglected by the rest of the world. As if they were natives of the street, they sought survival through the resources that were available to them.
But spring 2014 brought overwhelming exposure to the Gara de Nord story: it repeatedly appeared in local and international media with reports focusing mainly on drugs abuse. One of the results being the arrest of Bruce Lee and many others in July 2015. Accused of organized crime and drug trafficking, they were sentenced to 10-20 years in prison.
For two years we lived on the streets of Bucharest with one of the most marginalised communities in Europe. During this prolonged stay, our own identity became increasingly blurred. The boundaries between us gradually disintegrated, paving the way for a new and clearer understanding.
Having experienced some consequences of social disorder ourselves, we have been forced to reconsider our own condition; realizing how fragile and unpredictable the principles that govern the existence of humankind are.
We witnessed a complex reality in which illegality and drugs were largely the side effect of a process of adaptation to growing marginalisation. With this work we would like to enable our audience to imagine what underground life was like without their eyes being clouded by pity, judgement or fear and make them part of a personal encounter.