Friday, 19 June 2009

featuring titus simoens

Titus Simoens (Gent 1985) grew up in an artistic family.
His father, Richard Simoens, is a visual artist.
Titus graduated last year at the renomated 'Karel de Grote Hogeschool' in Antwerp, Belgium.
His thesis, 'Close to Romania', received critical acclaim. It was published in 'Screenworlds', an overview of Belgian contemporary photography. The images were exhibited in the Flemish Parliament. Shortly after, his work was published by Lannoo.
As an emerging young photoreporter, Titus Simoens joined the Globe agency.

I could speak to Titus while he was preparing a journey to the US.
There, he will be working on a new project: 'In search of the cowboys.


This is my third trip to Romania with the intention of portraying the country and its people as realistic, as pure and as “close” as possible.
To get to the very heart of these people and their everyday surroundings, that’s my aim. To use my wide-angle lens eagerly and choose position right in the middle of the subject, that’s my strategy. Photographing, to me, also means experiencing: meeting people, trying to understand and appreciate them. That’s how you gain their confidence and get the opportunity to photograph them in a sincere way. That’s how you become part of another community and tell its story. That’s how this reportage got the title “Close to Romania”.
Close but bearing in mind the overall picture and keeping my eyes wide open continuously. Just to pick out that part of a scene that will represent not only what’s in the frame but also its setting and atmosphere.

© titus simoens

Three religious convictions prevail in Romania: the Romanian Orthodox (ca. 86 %), the Roman Catholic and the Protestant.
From Ciocanu I moved on to the north of Romania, particularly known for its monasteries and abbeys. I ended up in the village of Câmpulung, where someone introduced me to a priest of the Sihastria Rarau monastery.
This monastery was once burnt to the ground by the East Hungarians but rebuilt after the 1990 revolution. Today twelve monks live here, having parted with all material possessions and each performing his particular household duty. None of them is allowed to leave the precinct, only the spiritual father can make contact with the outside world. Women are strictly forbidden here. These men have to deal with a constant struggle with themselves, their dreams and their instincts. A rigid schedule of meditating and praying, from 8 o’clock in the morning till 3 o’clock at night, helps them with this task, day in day out.
There was no easy way of photographing these withdrawn monks. It took me five days of praying and fasting before I could enter their individual rooms, which lent those moments a very personal touch resulting in these strong portraits.

© titus simoens

Slobozia Moară is a town in Dâmboviţa, in southern Romania.
Practically everybody here depends exclusively on agriculture for his living. The town is surrounded by enormous fields and the region is particularly known for its potatoes. Only a few farmers have quite recently risked the change to tractors, all the others still till their lands using horse and cart.

© titus simoens

On my first exploration of the town I made the acquaintance of the Matache family. Ionel and Angela have been living all their lives in Slobozia Moară, together with their three sons: Petruţ, Ionuţ and Marian.

© titus simoens

As far as she can remember, Angela has been working the land in and around Slobozia Moară. Also Ionel spent most of his life farming, but his health is failing now and Angela and the children have to manage it on their own today.

Titus Simoens

1 comment:

LUC RABAEY said...

I know. Really good photographer. Man with projects.