A LIFE IN TUNNELS
The book a life in tunnels is the first part of my on-going project LOST BOYS. This book contains pictures and film stills from my first stay with a group of street-kids in Bucharest, Romania.
This book is my research: I had found a group of boys that live an aberrant life: they are the leftovers from a recovering country that was ruled by Nicolae Ceau?escu until 1989, when he and his wife were sentenced to death, and communism fell for good. These boys are referred to as the 3rd generation that remains living on the streets and in the tunnels. They form their own communities and bond new families. Although life is tough, for most of these kids, it seems to be all they want:
I want to stay here, up down up down, thats the system
They are not hungry as there are churches and foundations to feed, shower and sometimes shelter them. There is also hardly any need for money as all they spend it on is a bit of paint to inhale for 1 to max 5 Lei a day (5Lei is £1) that they easily make by begging.
Though sometimes they do get arrested for petty crimes, and get sent to the local orphanage Pinocchio. Most of the time they escape hours later to return to what they know to be their home and family.
I have spent weeks with them. Because they don't speak my language, and I don't speak theirs, I slowly tried to win their trust by photographing them, and in return giving them those photos. As they are kids, there would be nothing too serious to talk about anyway: we just hung out. And it reminded me of everything I would desire when I was their age: its Peter Pans lost boys meets [William Goldings] Lord of the flies.
Since a life in tunnels I have returned to Romania, and I was welcomed as before. They moved to a squat building to spend the summer, which they keep as tidy and clean as they can. Two new kids have joined them. It appears to be a group of 8 to 11 boys. In reality though there are at least three girls but as I assume it is safer, they dress as boys.
One boy was missing this time: Costel (from the book’s opening quote). He was arrested and brought to a secured part of Pinocchio. At this moment a foundation that also knows Costel from the street are trying to gain access for me to visit him. By what I have heard this place is horrible, but I hope to see for myself. As soon as I can I will fly back, to see how he is doing and to see if there is anything I can do for him.
Lost boys is not a political statement. It is a personal document of an aberrant boy-culture.
The current document consists of photographs as well as many hours of film.
02 May 2012 Joost Vandebrug
'Lost Boys' will be a feature length documentary! More information on the progress will follow soon.