Romania: Country Pulse (April 2010)

Artist goes from Bucharest rubbish tip to Paris salons (April 2010)

63-year-old Romanian Ion Barladeanu has become an unlikely star of the international art world, attracting such celebrity fans as the actress Angelina Jolie. Until 2007 no one had ever seen his work, and until mid-2008 he was living in the rubbish tip of a Bucharest tower block.

Now, dozens of the collages he created from scraps of discarded magazines during and after the Communist regime are on sale for more than €1,000 apiece at an exhibition in Paris, and his work has been hailed “as politically brave and culturally irreverent” by one critic. According to Barladeanu, “I feel as if I have been born again. Now I feel like a prince. A pauper can become a prince. But he can go back to being a pauper too.”

Former dictator’s family seek to take back the Ceausescu name (April 2010)

The son of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is seeking to ban a play about the December 1989 trial and execution of his parents in order to protect their names. According to his lawyer, Valentin Ceausescu registered the “Ceausescu” trademark two years ago, meaning that it can no longer be used for commercial purposes without his family’s consent.

He added that “The plaintiff’s motive is not to get rich but to prevent that his father’s name be ridiculed.” Valentin Ceausescu previously went to the courts in 2006 after a mobile communications company used footage of a Ceausescu speech in an advertisement.

Is fast food always junk food? (April 2010)

The Romanian government’s much-heralded tax on fast food should have been in place by the middle of March, but it ran into trouble when it was realised that a lot of the products sold by Romanian fast-food stalls cannot really be termed ‘junk food.’

On the streets of Bucharest and elsewhere, the cheap food of choice is the ‘shaorma,’ or kebab, and according to Daniel Iorgoveanu, who owns a kebab stall in the city centre, the kebabs he sells should not be considered unhealthy just because they can be served quickly.

He says “All the food we serve is fresh. We’re a fast-food place, that’s what we call ourselves, but we sell fresh Romanian products. I don’t see how we could be putting the consumer’s health at risk.”