Beyond The Saltflats [2015]

From the Middle Ages until the early 20th century the town of Turda in Transylvania, Romania was famous for its salt mining industry. In 1932, the salt mines closed, leaving much of the community unemployed and the quarries derelict. In 2009, the European Union funded renovations to the salt quarries with health spars opening soon after.

During the summer months, elderly locals in Turda can be found bathing on the mud flats or swimming in the waterfilled salt quarries. The clay treatments are used to ease the effects of degenerative rheumatic conditions in preparation for the bitterly cold winter months.

Nikolai, an 80-year-old Turda resident, stands as his son applies scorching black clay to his arms and back. He is one of many locals standing uninhibited, bare-chested and beaming in the 28-degree heat, "Ceaușescu removed the bars and theatres. He removed our community. Then we were suddenly free. [After fall of Ceaușescu's regime] We didn't know what to do, so we went to the mud flats".

Andrei, a 30-year-old former truck driver, stands beside me, "It's a free space for Romanians, Romas, whoever. We are all covered in clay, and we are all here to heal."

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