The work Santimbru (2010) was part of a project about place and identity in which I travelled along the Maros River in Transylvania, Romania. The Maros River carries my name.

This image is a reminder of the paradoxical dance of engagement and withdrawal that arose in my dialogue with the river. The promise of a crossing was not always delivered, which constituted an obstruction to my passage. Paradoxically, these encounters or non-encounters in turn provided me with an opportunity to stop and engage with the river on terms different to my expectations.

In the foreground of this image, the grey river sand is littered with slabs of broken concrete, the bridge, which once rendered both sides of the river as places, now asserts itself without function in the river’s mid flow. The waters curl around the pieces and create new sandbars and new channels as the water renegotiates them. The place of passage is now a place of obstruction, a reframing of the linear narrative driven by the river’s downstream flow. In this photograph, the air is crystal clear, in the background foothills of the Eastern Mountains are still visible upstream and defined. It is as if the past continues to exert its presence in the panorama, still beautiful in the face of disaster and abandonment. The bridge has been wrenched from its moorings by the unremitting force of the water and the tooth-like structures are a reminder of this. I wanted to convey a sense of the bridge’s remnants as monuments in which, as Roland Barthes would say, a history has been made visible. Broken bridges imply failed expectations and I wanted to give this a visual form.

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Image detail: Gary Ramage