Tamas Dezso’s The Dignity of Isolation at The Half King Gallery (Photos)

Award-winning photographer Tamas Dezso chronicles haunting villages of rural Romania.

Tamas Dezso

© Tamas Dezso

Award-winning Hungarian photographer Tamas Dezso documented the villages of rural Romania from 2003 until 2007, when the isolated country was finally granted entry into the European Union. Each image deftly captures a people in transition, poised for change yet still struggling to recover from the constraints of Communism that left their country impoverished. Dezso’s pictures highlight the poignant solitude of his subjects against a ravishing, culturally rich landscape. From an elderly couple watching television in their unheated living room to a young boy on the road to a brighter future, see a preview of Dezso’s photo exhibition. Co-curated by Newsweek’s International Photo Editor James Price and writer Anna Van Lenten, The Dignity of Isolation is on view at the Half King Gallery in New York City from August 2 to September 25, 2011.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. Boys kickboxing on the main street of Buzescu. The Gypsy community has created a bizarre cityscape here. They’ve erected pompous buildings to show off their wealth, but afterward, prefer not to live in the structures, leaving many uninhabited. As I entered the village with the journalist, we were greeted with this sight. The two guys stopped kickboxing when they saw us approaching with a camera in hand so I had to ask them to continue what they were doing before we arrived. It is interesting that in most parts of Romania the Gypsy population is almost always found on the periphery of the given town or city, but here in Buzescu it is the opposite. Gypsies own the center of the village completely. There is a leader among the Gypsies, called the Bulibasha who I had the opportunity to meet. We stumbled upon each other in front of his palace. He was wearing a tie completely made of fine gold and was excitedly awaiting the arrival of his new Bulibasha hat, which soon arrived, riding in the backseat by itself in a yellow Dacia.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. Couple standing in front of their home, which the floods made uninhabitable in Nanov village near Alexandria.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. Car approaching a village through the riverbeds after the floods washed away the bridge of the only road leading to the village. A string of floods hit some two-thirds of Romania’s territory in 2005.

Tomas Denzo

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2006. Romanian Orthodox nuns attend the Sunday religious service near Caianu. These nuns were heavily involved in social work, providing food and clothing for those deeply in need. Their order owned a single car with which they randomly entered extremely dangerous, poor Gypsy villages at night to throw out packages containing supplies. They did not even stop the car or else they probably would have been attacked.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. A woman returns home with a goose under her arm in the village of Sapoca. Bird flu, threatening humans and fowls, is a serious concern.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2007. Lumberjacks rest near Sighisoara.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. Locals in the village of Calvini sit under a tent put up in the rectory garden to feast on the day of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the Orthodox Church.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. Man about to descend from the top of a haystack. The centuries-old method of drying hay guarantees ample food for animals in the winter. Because of a lack of machinery, most farm work is carried out in the traditional way.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. An old couple sit in their unheated living room in Vedea village, close to the southern border. Bill Clinton looks on from the TV screen.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2006. Donnica Garleuleb of Damuc village, central Romania, stares through the unkempt plants she sowed in her family’s garden. From her house window, Donnica watches the garden's gradual decline, once installed for her children. The children left some years ago to work in Germany, like many others from the region.

Tamas Dezso

Tamas Denzos Rural Romania Photos

2005. Early on a winter morning, a young boy is off to work to saw wood for locals in Odobesti. This picture was taken a year before Romania’s accession into the European Union. I chose this image as the closing piece of my original Romania essay. For me this picture symbolized the road to a brighter world on which the young man sets off on, and takes a last glimpse back at his home country.