Assessment, Assignment 3

Assignment 3 – Decisive moment

Historical context

Communism(1965-1989) in Romania

Starting 1965 in Romania has come to rule the Communist Party , Ceausescu. His rigid rules made people lives very hard. The lands of the wealthy and educated people were confiscated and they were put in prison. The emigration was forbidden. The rights of people to be silent and obedient towards the regime were absolute. The fear guided them. Because of the debts the Country had, a lot of natural resources were exported and not available for the citizens so a sort of hunger dominated that times.

Romanian Revolution 1989

Yet, the Ceausescu dictatorship was overthrown in a single week in 1989. Some demonstrators were gathered in 16 December 1989 at Timisoara but Ceausescu ordered the fire against them. The revolution was then spreaded to Bucharest and on 22 December 1989 the Romanian army went over to demonstrators side and the regime has fallen.

Constantin Duma is a photographer from Timisoara that in this context had the courage to go and photograph these events started in his city. The big majority of people were staying in the house frightened… His photographs are iconic in Timisoara now and I was finding them by searching the Internet archives.

Feedback from Oca forum

I posted my assignment work on OCA forum and got feedback that concept works only if the original images represent decisive moments . And others replied to my assignment I put their input in the corresponding sections below.

Decisive moment constructed

“ it is a moment chosen so that ‘what has already taken place and what is about to follow an be most easily gathered’ (1) and we can see ‘the present , the past and the future”(2)

I kept wondering: what it is the decisive moment, I didn’t understand it , somehow I have overthink it as in one discussion on the forum someone said. So I kept reading materials and I have read about painting history: the concept has it’s root there, the painters had to come over with a scene that told something about the present and the future in the same way.
But how to do that? Tell something about the present and the past… in the same picture, as Barthes says in the quote above. It is the same as peripateia or “pregnant” moment . I wanted to summarize them in one picture and I wither did a double exposure with an original picture , either re-photograph it in the actual context.

“is not a dramatic climax but a visual one: the result is not a story but a picture”(3). Following the logic of Swarkowski I needed something visually very strong and easy to read. I was afraid that using double exposure the picture will be visually a mess, because I hadn’t a similar shot in my prospect so to be able to overlay them together in a clear manner.

So since I used re-photographing in an older exercise in Foundation course I’ve chosen this approach. And also the hand keeping the original photograph which is doing the link between old and actual context is sending to human memory which is very important.

As a source for photography as memory there is Dear photograph project which takes an older photograph and overlays it into actual context, showing both the similarities and differences and basically it uses nostalgia as it’s affect.
A feedback was to put original images on a tripod but I needed to put them in the hand so to have a human touch to make a statement that human memory unites those photographs together in one composition.


“We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again. we cannot develop and print a memory…but for photographers, what is gone is gone forever”(4)

This quote from Bresson is a basic for this assignment , if the photographs weren’t done then , in the middle of terror and fear , they would be almost forgotten when people with those specific memories would be dead. This is a little bit creepy maybe but it’s real. “We cannot develop and print a memory”. And as Cradinal Retz said “There is nothing in the world that hasn’t a decisive moment”. I think this means the course of events can be changed in a minute. As it did in this case. And if you lose it is forever lost.

“What we have is a new space-time category: spatial immediacy and temporal interiority, the photograph being an illogical conjunction between here-now and there-then.”(5)

This is the case in my assignment that there are 2 times: the actual context and the older context linked by human memory.

A feedback was to alternate the pairs depending the hand they where held into: left, right ,left ,right, and center last one. This should remember  a military march. So I applied this.


“Subject does not consist of a collection of facts, for facts in themselves offer little interest. Through facts, however we can reach an understanding of the laws that govern them, and be able to select the essential ones which communicate reality” (6) Here, Bresson pointed out the decisive moment. The constructed photograph is not just a fact that happened in history but is something that affected our today’s living. That certain moment in time defined the way we act today. We still have protests, our civic spirit endured the years that had passed. People have the experience of rebellion against mindless power.


I don’t think I should add comments for each photograph since they are all follow the rules above.

(1)Lessing, G.E. (1853). Op cit.,p.102
(2)Barthes,R.(1974) Op. cit.,p.73
(3) Swarkowski,J.(2007) Op.cit.,p5
(4)Bresson,H.C.(2005) Op.cit.,p27
(5)Barthes,R.(1974) Rethoric of the image.In:Image, Music,Text.Fontana Press,London.p44
(6) Bresson,H.C.(2005) Op.cit.,p29















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