The photographs presented here capture the Berceni district of Bucharest. I took them in January and February 2020 as part of research towards my master’s thesis, Transformation im Treppenhaus? Soziales Gefüge im semi-öffentlichen Raum eines Bukarester Plattenbaus zwischen materiellem und ideellem Erbe des rumänischen Sozialismus (Transformation in the Stairwell? Social fabric in the semi-public space of a Bucharest housing estate between the material and ideological legacies of Romanian socialism).
I have deliberately avoided including images depicting the centre of Bucharest and other districts of the city, even though I also explored them. My aim here is to direct attention to this particular residential district, one rarely visited by tourists. The photographs were initially a side product of my research, documenting my trip, but ultimately they came to serve as sources in my project.
Some of the images show the inner workings of my field study: the semi-public spaces of a ten-storey housing block, including the stairwell and entrance area. The photographs were taken during the course of observations and conversations conducted in the building, emerging almost in passing. Other shots, most of which were taken during expeditions through the district, offer an illustration of the surroundings of the blocks and the broader neighbourhood of the housing estate. I visited mainly during the early morning or later in the evening, as well as at weekends, covering the area on foot. In doing so, I developed a sense of the structures of everyday life in the district: a space that emerged from the drawing board of socialist-era construction projects and subsequently supplemented by the Eigensinn of the private sector. Therefore I incorporate into my analytical perspective on Berceni a wide range of perspectives on this urban landscape of housing blocks: views that reveal how, in a way, it resembles a mountain range; the attempts to make the inhospitable hallways close to the entrance doors more homely; messages from neighbours; depictions of the willingness, or perhaps need, to improvise; and somewhat incongruous advertising.