The passing of time creeps up around her face like the long arm of a dark shadow trying to erase the memory of her existence. But her gaze remains fixed and strong, as if she refuses to be forgotten. For most of the faces in these photographs, time may soon be running out…
We’re looking at the beautiful and haunting work of Costică Acsinte, a little-known Romanian photographer who ran a studio in the small but vibrant town of Slobozia. After serving as an official World War I photographer, in 1920 he opened his studio in the centre of town. Most of his prints bear the stamp of the photography studio “Foto Splendid Acsinte” on the back.
His legacy consists of about 5000 film negatives on glass plates which he worked with until 1950, as well as a smaller number of sheet film negatives, 35mm and 120mm film.
Although his studio was demolished shortly after his retirement in 1960, he kept all his studio prints until his death nearly 25 years later. In 1985, Costică Acsinte’s family donated his work to the Ialomița County Museum.
A passionate photographer working for the museum, Cezar Popescu, recently took on the painstaking (and costly) project of digitizing the entire archive. But to give long-term optimum storage to Acsinte’s work, funding is still desperately needed as the time continues to take its toll on the photographs.
The already scanned negatives are currently wrapped in regular 80gsm paper slipped in paper envelopes. This year, Cezar Popescu, launched an Indie GoGo crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the project. I only wish I had stumbled upon this archive earlier because the campaign sadly did not reach its goal.
“[These] photos could be great exhibition,” says Cezar commenting on one of his digitized Flickr uploads. “Some curator must recognise the richness, the power, the value of these photos.”
These people look like the only thing they have in the world is each other. Their eyes and clothes tell a story of real hardship.
After Acsinte’s retirement and closure of his studio, he still continued taking photographs, often on the streets of Slobozia and venturing to nearby villages .
This rather inexplicable photograph simply reads, “Grup cu instrumente muzicale” on the back.