A beholding glimpse at Joost Vandebrug’s compelling project, set in the underground tunnels of Bucharest.
For the past two years Photographer and Filmmaker Joost Vandebrug has compiled over 6,000 stills and over thirty hours of footage of what he has come to know as the real life ‘Lost Boys’.
Since 2011 Vandebrug has spent near enough every day striking up an unlikely bond with the third generation of homeless children since the collapse of communism. Constructing close relationships with numerous youths that inhabit the tunnels which are the underground veins of Bucharest, Vandebrug has proceeded to support his subjects and work alongside an independent organisation to visit many of the sick boys in local hospitals, where they are being treated for terminal illnesses.
Confident that his colossal library of work, which is appellated ‘Cinci Lei’, could be published into a book to show the documentation of his time with the boys and via the assistance of a Kickstarter campaign, Vandebrug hopes to further support his ‘muses’ with all sales secured. He has recently dedicated his time to sourcing shelter and housing for several of the boys featured within his project portraits.
From behind his lens Vandebrug has seen the youngsters come of age of a generation set against scenery of drug addiction, orphanages, harsh winters and boiling summers.
With no common language between himself and the boys, photography became their only tool of communication.
Amongst his subjects are four boys in particular, who feature heavily in both imagery and film.
Nico, Stefan, Costel and Leviu are candidly snapped against a backdrop of social debauchery and poverty yet still allowed the camera to capture their every breathing second. They comfortably disclose incredible stories of survival and the day to day atrocities they endure which to them has become an integrated normality.
Ironically it wasn’t the run-ins with the law, the heavy drug use or their barren environment which easily breathe throughout this powerful body of work. The overwhelming sense of friendship, family and care, prove to seethe tender. The sometimes distressing images show a surprising side of the very expected reality; a mutual protection and responsibility that predominates the general sense of disgraceful existence in a world with no government or structure.
” A teenage utopia of freedom, rebellion and lawlessness is set in a parallel society fuelled by destructive drugs and little state of parental protection”
Vandebrug’s documentation is about youth and brotherhood. A pact and an improbable intimacy. It undeniably succeeds in producing a non-typical documentation of a community’s trial and emotion.
Donations Link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/956961944/cinci-lei
Photographs by: Joost Vandebrug
Words: Shane Hawkins