23 February 2022 was an ordinary day at Seneca Anticafe, we were preparing for the launch of the book “Inelul cu cap de cal” (The Horse Head Ring) – a history of the Roma people told to children. We had many friends around, who had brought costumes, dresses, props, and we were making a micro-museum of Roma history here. I have in my phone pictures of the preparations for the launch. We were very excited and went to bed very late.
But on 24 February, the first image on my phone is a print screen of the evacuation plan from Ukraine. 24 February 2022 completely changed my life and I felt then that 10 years had passed in just one and a half months at the border, among the lines of refugees. On 24 February, instead of being at the book launch event, I got in my car and drove to Siret border crossing. I pulled over, went live for the launch taking place at Seneca, and then continued on my way to the border. I was there for about a month and a half.
So, from the first photo, from the 23rd, to the second, with the evacuation plan, I turned from a bookseller into a decent human being in times of war. That’s when I realised that my whole life path made sense: why I chose to live in Romania (Anastasia was born in Russia), why I can speak Ukrainian, why I have acquired all my experiences and relationships so far, to be able to talk to these people in distress, in these dramatic situations.
For me, the light in all this darkness were the very people I helped, the generosity of their soul and their courage, the kindness that was preserved in inhuman conditions, I think that is the greatest light.
Last Day of Peace, First Night of War is an interactive digital installation, part of the Museum of Abandonment, a digital wall of images showing the last days of peace collected from mobile phones.