“In Romania, ‘Noroc’ means both ‘Good Luck’ and ‘Good Health’”.
The statement that opens Cedric Van Turtelboom’s new photobook describes the first Romanian word learned by the Belgian photographer, and the greeting that serves as a cultural entry point for Turtelboom’s ventures through Romania.
Intent on avoiding a fabricated outlook of post-communist Romania, Turtelboom sets a mandate at the outset of his journey to always sleep in the home of a local. The result is a candid relationship with his subjects through which Turtelboom is able to seek out everyday circumstances that lie in the slipstream between ‘normal’ and ‘peculiar’.
The photographs in Noroc are flash-lit and tightly cropped, creating a common framework for a diversity of daily scenes. With the stylized structure, Turtelboom links winter backcountry scenes into a meandering story, taking a mundane moment and flash-freezing it into a disquieting enigma.
A neighbour’s set of eyes peek over a wooden fence, staring at something away from the camera. A head-bagged ostrich awaits its fate in the back of beaten up cargo van, with the marks of former birds clearly etched into the metal van wall. A street-side advertising sign is stripped of its marketing skin, revealing a stoic red-spined skeleton. All the environments that he examines reveal layers of the old regime legacy.
Noroc is presented as a spiral bound journal, about a comfortable handbag travel size.The images are presented full bleed, occupying the maximum page width, and with no borders or blank pages, the images form a continuous thread somewhere between travel photos, dream sequence and documentary. Noroc is punctuated at several points with foldout micro-stories seamlessly linking the several pages prior to and after the descriptive interruption.
In Noroc, Turtelboom has created a fascinating look at Romania in the winter, selecting flash frozen memories as if from the mind of a native.
Noroc has been published in a limited edition of 550 copies, and is available for sale directly from the artist.