Historicizing the Absence: the Missing Photographic Documents of Romanian Late Communism

The article analyzes the production of documentary photographic images in Socialist Romania and the contemporary lack of such documents available for the historian or the general public. A discussion of Andrei Pandele's probably unique documentary photographic project is followed by a thick description of the conditions, both institutional and ideological of image production in 1970s and 1980s Romania. The analysis points to the many ways in which photography was tamed (Barthes), deprived of its power by banalization as national hobby and transformation into the photographic art and the photographic movement subsidized and thus controlled by the communist regime. The deliberate confusion between amateurship and professional or art photography has succeeded in turning photographic activity into a politically benign/indifferent activity.

Key words: photography, everyday, amateur, art, communism, documentary.