This article originally appeared on VICE Romania
During the communist era, public pools were one of the few places where the people of Bucharest could afford to spend their summer weekends. After the fall of communism in 1989, a wider range of activities emerged for those who wanted to cool off during the hot summer days but most were only accessible to the wealthy, like private pools. By contrast, public pools fell into a state of disrepair. These days, they are mainly frequented by low-income, working class Romanians who cannot afford to spend their summers elsewhere.
The photos seen here are a part of P'afară, an urban exploration and anthropology project focused on Bucharest's public pools and carried out by local artists and photographers. I chose to look at the tattoos of the people frequenting the pools, because I feel they are a very personal form of expression. Summer, by the poolside, is perhaps the only time when a lot of my subjects get to expose their tattoos in public.
Some of the tattoos presented here were done in the early 1990s, while others are more recent – each and every one of them exhibiting signs of period-specific inking techniques. Some of them represent crosses, others take the form of relatives' names or portraits of loved ones. Those carrying them were for the most part eager to tell me the story behind their ink, as well as their plans for future designs.
Words by Mihnea Mihalache-Fiastru