Alexandru Tarlev‘s photographs from ‘The loneliness from the 5th floor’ bring us into his grandfathers apartment in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova. It was an opportunity for him to get closer to his grandfather while revealing the poverty and loneliness that afflicts many older people as they come to the end of their life, out of work and relying on the little they can get by whatever means possible.
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and as a former Soviet state – it gained its independence in 1991 – it has undergone traumatic socio-political and economic changes leading to a decline in it industrial and agricultural sectors. These changes have mostly affected the older generation, those brought up in a soviet system that no longer exists, all of them left to struggle in the brave new world of market capitalism.
What marks these photographs out is both the abject aloneness of Tarlev’s grandfather and his determination and resilience to keep going, to deal with everything that life throws at him. We see him washing clothes, cleaning fish, making his bed, taking time out, everyday chores we are all familiar yet here, in these pictures, they are imbued with a deep melancholy, a sadness that reminds us we that must look after those that came before us, the older generation that has much to teach us as we stroll around in a brand new, shiny, technological world. Here’s what Tarlev has to say about the project:
‘The loneliness from the 5th floor’ is a project, an essay, I started in 2015 at Andrea Diefenbach workshop. When I was asked what project I wanted to do, I thought I’d make one about the loneliness of my grandfather, and in doing so get a little closer to him.
This set of photographs is about time, stopped time in an apartment at the fifth floor at Botanica district from Chisinau, capital of Moldova. It is of things that have remained unchanged for several decades as well as the memories of one person, my grandmother, who died in 2013, and left a great hole in my grandfathers life. Looking at the pictures you could say that they’re images of a broken Soviet era; the radio, the phone on a Communist newspaper, an unwashed stove. All of them creating a unique beauty in the apartment.