Oliver Merce – The Anatomy of Decay
The Anatomy of Decay is the first book by Timișoara-based photographer Oliver Merce comprising 111 black and white photos, taken during his two-year time documenting the life of people living in the districts of Anina City in Romania – Crivina and Orașul Nou (New Town). Both were affected by what Oliver describes as one of the communist leader Ceaușescu’s “pharaonic” projects, a power plant meant to operate using bituminous shale. The pricey project was destined to fail from the start due to the many difficulties encountered during its construction and related to its maintenance. Put into operation in 1984, it closed just a few years later, in 1988, and was sold as metal scrap in 2002.
The shutdown had a major impact on the community of workers – several thousand in the 80s, generating a high unemployment rate, the abandonment of the area and, for those who remained, extremely harsh living conditions. The barracks, once providing all the necessary utilities for these men and their families, are currently damaged and uninhabitable. So are the apartments, where people continue to live now: “The standard of living is low, few people have a steady job, many people living on social assistance funds, on pensions of older family members, or they are helped by the relatives working abroad. Some entrepreneurs turned the land around the New Town into agricultural land, while others have built small farms for animal breeding. There are in the neighborhood small businesses, but they don’t offer enough jobs. Some of the residents have found refuge in religion, the neighborhood having a Baptist church (New Hope).”
An excellent observer of details and contrasts, masterfully capturing human emotion, Oliver Merce uses photography as an information tool, a witness of a time which is present as an alternate reality to our comfortable urban life, one that is still unnoticed and risks being forgotten and excluded from history.
– Matter hardcover
– 21,5 cm x 21,5 cm x 2 cm (aprox. 900g)
– 192 pages, matte paper 170g
– 111 black and white photos
– Both English and Romanian text
– ISBN 978-973-0-22875-5
– Limited edition of 200 photobooks
More info about the book and how you can order it here. The book will be officially launched on December 16th, at F64, where Oliver will not only present the book, but also share the stories behind the photographs, insights about the project and his collaboration with Cristian Bassa, responsible for the editing and design (details here – Romanian only).
Images courtesy of Oliver Merce.