Under the Surface

CompanyCollettivo Fotosocial
PhotographerMassimo Branca
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description


When I first visited their subterranean house in Bucharest city center, I never expected I would become, over time, part of their family. A small, yet growing tribe on the margins of society. They are the sons of neglect. Thus was born street life, full of crime and violence. Its inhabitants have developed a hard shell of fear and mistrust. Trained with blows, they learned to growl to be heard. It’s hard to be kind and respected at the same time. Many of them, grown up with no parents and in social exclusion, discovered early the drugs and the prison, of which they inevitably bear the marks on their body and mind. Sometimes it seems they rush towards death on purpose. Sadly, someone has truly told me so. Nonetheless, they learned the values of hospitality, helpfulness and fraternal bond. In search of affection and safety, those boys have given support to each other. According to rules that can be easily misunderstood in the 'civilized' world, they founded a community. They gathered around a paternal figure to create the warmth of a family home. Taking care is the greatest and most admired skill. This work is dedicated to ‘my little sister’ Catalina who died recently, just one month after turning 18.

About Photographer

Massimo Branca is an Italian documentary photographer. Over time, he has dedicated himself to studying many different disciplines, such as Classical Piano, Visual Arts and Statistics. In 2008 he graduated in Anthropology (Università di Bologna) with a thesis on the application of photography as a method of research and representation in cultural investigation. In 2009 he co-founded Collettivo Fotosocial, Italian association using photography to produce social change. Since 2011 he has been collaborating with IRFOSS (Institute of Research and Training in Social Sciences) as visual researcher in various ethnographic expeditions in Italy and abroad. His interests are mainly focused on contemporary lifestyles and cultural minorities. His last project ‘Under the Surface’, started in 2013 and still on-going, deals with street life and social exclusion in Bucharest. He is currently living between Italy and Romania.