Romanian photographer Bogdan Grbovan seeks inspiration that literally hits close to home. He currently lives on the 10th floor of a Bucharest apartment building, which was built in 1966 during communist times. To create widespread equality, many of these plain lodgings were constructed with identical apartments to prevent any individualistic forms of expression. In an e-mail, Grbovan describes them to us as “mere boxes” that don’t allow for social, cultural, or communicational happenings. Residents can only fulfill their basic needs in these single-room spaces that, according to the artist, “have absolutely no sense of beauty.”
After looking around at his own apartment, the photographer wondered how those living below him inhabited their nine identical places. He then decided to conduct a sociological survey on these dwellings called 10/1–named after the ten, one-room apartments–by taking a photograph of each room from the same exact angle. In doing so, Grbovan wanted to illustrate the blend of different social classes that are living under the same roof. He wanted to explore the differences that have prevailed in a homogenous setting. The residents are included in the photographs to illustrate this, along with the unique character of each individual apartment. While this is only one building, Grbovan explains that it represents over 70% of the housing in the capital city.
Scroll down to take a peek into these apartments, in descending order, and the residents who have made the identical rooms their personal homes.
10th Floor Apartment #52. Bogan Grbovan.
9th Floor Apartment #47. Mrs. Bita, retired, living there since 1967, and by herself since 1996. Apartment owner.
8th Floor Apartment #42. The Ene's, retired, living here since 1967. Mr. Ene has been bedridden for several years. Apartment owners.
7th Floor Apartment #37. Ionut lives by himself and, according to Mr. Cojanu Ilie (president of the apartment block), "He's some philanderer and has a hearing problem; a good lad nonetheless and will certainly let you take his photo." Apartment owner.
6th Floor Apartment #32. Public figure, refused to give a name or appear in the photograph. Temporary lodger, a tenant.
5th Floor Apartment #27. Mrs. Suhariuc Ioana, retired. Living here since 1967, and living by herself since 1982. Together with the cat since 1989. Owner of the flat.
4th Floor Apartment #22. Don Lukas (did not give his name, preferring to appear under his alias), recently returned from Spain, lives together with his girlfriend.
3rd Floor Apartment #17. Apartment for sale, owners living abroad. By courtesy of the apartment block president, Mr. Cojanu Ilie, who has the key to the apartment, I managed to photograph the apartment, and he agreed to appear in the frame under one condition: "I will not look into the camera… you know, I'm the president of the apartment block, after all."
2nd Floor Apartment #12. Mother and daughter, two distinguished ladies (refused to make their names public). The daughter, former athlete, travelled a lot, visited museums, moved in with her mother after her husband passed away. Apartment owners.
1st Floor Apartment #7. A lady living by herself (refused to make her name public), retired, worked as a banknotes designer before 1989. She's been living here for 10 years. Apartment owner.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos and captions by Bogdan Grbovan.