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Mihai Barabancea’s Overriding Sequences
Photography Mihai Barabancea

These photos show the good, bad and gritty side of Romania

‘I wanted to document some kind of weird-surreal-Mad-Max-post-apocalyptic-cyberpunk-eastern-European-underworld-society’

“There is a critical moment in some science-fiction movies when the evil-doctor-professor starts the self-destruction mechanism and the mothership is in danger of being blasted through the vast loneliness of space. But don’t worry, the so-called ‘positive character’ prevents it just seconds before it can happen – he manages to override the self-destruction sequence.”

This is how photographer Mihai Barabancea explains the thought process behind the title of his latest book Overriding Sequence. Based in sunny Bucharest, “murder capital of Romania” – as Barabancea describes it – he says, “I was pretty much inspired by it (the title) because I myself was on a thin line, struggling with addictions. But in the end I focused myself fully on photography as a way out, and it saved me.”

He goes on to recall a time in the late 90s when he was part of the first graffiti movement in Bucharest, a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude that has followed him since, “I was really into mad adrenaline action, once the needle goes in, it never gets out, so to speak,” he remembers. After focusing on graphic design, some general jobs, university drop outs, Barabancea enrolled at the University of Arts in Bucharest and found his calling in photography. Now, he’s never without a point-and-shoot camera, replaced monthly ‘to keep up with the rate of their destruction’. Revealing that he never uses a DSLR ‘because it freaks everybody out’.

In Overriding Sequence, Barabancea takes us onto the streets with his gritty images of Romanian life. As an observer, he guides us on a harrowing journey through the country. “I wanted to shoot some rare authentic never before seen footage so I had to surf throughout Romania. I wanted to document some kind of weird-surreal-Mad-Max-post-apocalyptic-cyberpunk-eastern-European-underworld-society,” he explains. Filtering his own demons through the lens, he says, “I’m thinking of some issues of mine and ironically, from the least expected direction, some anonymous person gives me the answer.”

Displaying a ‘Saint Savior of Rejects’ on the Overriding Sequence’s cover, Barabancea explains that it took eight or nine months to simply work his way through the ‘wormhole’ of the book’s layers, in order to create certain patterns and rhythms ‘to develop relevant connections between the many sequences’, adding, “The book is not about the exotism of the characters but about means of overriding the way you look at them, so think again! These contemporary characters are saved by transcending into multi-religious symbols.”

Overriding Sequence – published by Nicu Ilfoveanu – is available now from P-U-N-C-H