Oana Drăgulinescu, founder of The Museum of Abandonment

Bagajele abandonului

From 24 February 2022 I have on my phone a photo of a giant tulip bouquet. There’s a greenhouse on the outskirts of Bucharest where you can buy large bunches of flowers in bulk. I had picked them on Sunday, when they were still buds, so on that Thursday they had become so beautiful that I put aside for a bit the long to-do list and spent some time photographing them: from above, from below, on the table, on the floor… It was a peaceful day, the kind of day when you can be grateful for a flower bouquet. It was a day when I was thinking of a dear friend whom I had lost in the pandemic and whose birthday would have been on 24 February. I knew that she would have loved those flowers terribly, and I lit a candle for her.

I never imagined for a second that by the end of it all, the quiet and peaceful banality of an early spring Thursday, when restrictions had finally been lifted after all the pandemic madness and the world seemed to be getting back to normal, would end with the news that a war had started on Romania’s border. I thought that, with the 20th century and its wars that had demolished humanity, this barbaric behaviour would be over. I thought that a word was worth more than a bullet now, that we had begun, as a race, to transcend the need for barbaric and never justified violence. I was wrong. Thursday, 24 February 2022 showed me that my flowers did not bring spring, but war, and that it did not smell like hope, but like death.

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.