Constantin Axinte (1897-1984) known as Costică Acsinte, was a Romanian photographer, born in the village of Perieți, Ialomița County, Romania. At the age of 18 he graduated from the Cotroceni Piloting School in Bucharest, but he did not obtain the pilot license. After serving as a Romanian war photographer from World War I through 1920, Acsinte settled in Slobozia in the south of the country. In 1930 he set up a studio called Foto Splendid Acsinte. There he proceeded to document the surrounding community in over 5,000 images. He retired in 1960 and his studio being demolished shortly after. Acsinte died in 1984, and the glass-plate negatives were mostly forgotten and left in storage.
This documentation of Romania centered between 1935 and 1945 could have been totally lost if it weren’t for the Ialomița County Museum, which acquired all 5,000 of the plates in the 1990s. Marked by time and entropy, these decaying photos of Romanian life in the lead-up to World War II take on a haunting, melancholy quality. Many of the fragile glass plates had sustained damage over the years, warped by heat and moisture, the glass cracked and splintered, the delicate silver gelatin emulsion peeled, flaked and sloughed off. The destruction of the photos added a new artistic layer, by accident. Beyond the psychedelic swirls of their shrinking, pealing emulsion, next to nothing is known about the subjects of the photographs. The greater part of their allure comes not from the information revealed, but from what is obscured and denied to the viewer.
The photos have since fallen into the public domain, and photographer Cezar Popescu has been collaborating with the museum on digitizing all of Costica Acsinte’s images. Now, Popescu is crowdfunding to complete the project and improve the storage facilities of the delicate glass plates.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Costică Acsinte
Costică Acsinte Archive
Flickr: Costică Acsinte
Mashable: 1930-1945, Beauty in decay
Jane Long Photography: Dancing with Costică
Dailymail Online: Ghosts from the land that time forgot