The Image: Odeta Catana, from the series "Minerva Bar"
I was 7, in '89, when my family got back the whole house, the Minerva space, from the state after the Communist regime fell. Since then the Minerva Bar was part of the family business, almost like an entity. I don’t remember my family without Minerva, actually. The building has strange architecture; the back of the bar is attached to the family house. Therefore if anything happens in the bar - fights, broken chairs or glasses - the family is always awakened or called to the bar.
As I grew up with it, Minerva was naturally there and since I had started to photograph, it didn't even cross my mind to take one photograph inside this space. I guess I was too close to it up to the point I left Romania and went to study in Wales. When I returned back home for Christmas holidays, I took the camera to the bar. No client was happy in the very beginning that I would take a photo of them while they drank. I was a disturbing factor for them but it helped that my uncle knew everybody that was there and he was the link for me.
At the start and before taking photos, I sat down with the bar clients and spoke to them and let them know I was there. The clients are always the same, it is only the ones who have passed away or have left the town that are not there anymore. Otherwise, every time I go back home, I feel like time stops, nothing changes.
The girl was 18-years-old or even a little bit younger in 2012, when I took her the photo on Easter holiday. She is the prostitute of the neighborhood. She would come in the bar and offer her services to the clients. I remember my mother saying that she would tell her to leave several times a day but with no results; she would come back, pretending that she simply wants a coffee. I don't know what happened to her, but when I went back for the next holidays, she was not there anymore. Some clients said that she had left the country.
- Odeta Catana