The object of this website is double: its starting point is the collection of photographs gathered over years by Mihai Oroveanu, art historian and curator, as well as a very active and productive photographer. It is a private collection whose present holder is Anca Oroveanu. Its existence gave rise to an initiative of Salonul de proiecte which consists in an effort to make this archive accessible. Thus, the website accounts for the collection in taking into account the activities proposed in the project.
The collection consists in a large number of photographs – so far impossible to assess exactly how large, but assuredly amounting to tens of thousands – in various formats and supports: photographic prints, black and white as well as color negatives, glass plates, daguerreotypes, tintypes, photographic albums, slides.
Mihai Oroveanu organized it, after a fashion, by grouping them on the one hand in large categories under predictable captions (industry, agriculture, rural culture and its inhabitants, Bucharest throughout its history, museums and exhibition sites, the royal family of Romania, World War 1 and World War 2, the Communist regime over decades, Jews, Roma etc.), and on the other by devising his own categories, sometimes quite whimsical. An important part of the collection consists of works by photographers or photographic studios, especially those active in Romania, but also of a number of foreign photographers, covering an interval that extends from the mid-19th century till recent times. He started the process of scanning and classifying this collection, but this process was in its first stages at the moment of his death.
The project conceived by Salonul de proiecte proposes to continue this work, and expand on it in the following directions:
- scanning the items in the collection and documenting them through individual files
- gradually making them accessible on this website
- organizing around the collection, in taking it as a free starting point, a number of exhibitions, whose authors may be artists, curators, researchers
- inviting researchers (art historians, anthropologists, historians) to work on particular sections of the collection and write essays on them
- organizing symposia and other public events, focusing not only on this particular collection, but on photographic collections-archives more generally, in order to contribute to current discussions on photography in the context of a pervasive presence of the image under various guises in contemporary culture, and of its many uses