a documentary by Andrei Dascalescu
Romania / 2016 / 80 min
As miners in the Romanian town of Petrila go down into the mine for the last time,
artist and ex-miner Ion Barbu is working on his mission:
preserving Petrila’s coalmine as cultural heritage.
But in accordance with EU agreements on the closure of the mine,
the authorities are committed to demolishing it completely.
This would bring an abrupt end to a history with which the mining community
still feels a deep affinity, but one that doesn’t appear to interest the politicians
in the slightest. Barbu refuses to back down, doing all he can to keep the memories
of the mine alive. He covers the mine buildings in murals and organizes performances, street protests and an underground theater festival.
His resolve is a match for that of his opponents, and his art,
which samples freely from art history,
is charged with an absurdism well suited to the situation.
Nonetheless, his actions prove to be more than just a frivolous protest;
they become a channel for the collective mourning of a redundant industry.