Our apartment block in Bucharest is a lesson in camouflage.
It’s concrete exterior is a patchwork of failed renovations, air conditioner units and creative electrical wiring (seriously creative). The Communist-era lift is possessed by demons, so Wednesday and I regularly climb the stairwell to the seventh floor in preference to visiting the local morgue.
The buildings internal passages are straight out of David Lynch’s Erasorhead, yet once inside our cosy apartment the atmosphere transforms magically into a lovely modern décor with sweeping views of the old city.
Appearances can be very deceptive.
The Western World’s obsession with immaculate, sterile surroundings has no currency in Romania – and nor should it. The substance of the people and their cultural history have little need of superficiality.
Meanwhile, Wednesday demonstrates why I invited her on this journey by suggesting we use the stairwell and hallways to do some photographic work. A highly intelligent weirdo with years of experience in front of my camera, she quickly exploits the creepy surroundings to advantage and I find myself rushing to keep up.
If she can make art out of crumbling Communist architecture, I can’t wait until we’re in Transylvania!
Creative opportunities can be deceptive also. It all depends on how we look at something. What appears to be nothing can be something – and visa-versa.
Designa clothes and over-priced brand names, for example, reflect little of our true feelings or state of mind, but are compensatory in nature.
They help us to hide.
They help distract us from our internal struggles.
They mask our deeper parts, yet ultimately fail to alter how we experience life.
Like a Romania apartment block, our obsession with appearances does nothing to reveal the beauty (or challenge) of what lies inside.