Like many other foundational myths, Romanian epic stories mention ancient rulers dismounting their royal horses in order to start discovering the new country. The ruler had to dismount in order to discover and start cutting and clearing the surrounding forest.
Land discovery discloses to us the fact that nearly every territorial taking-into-possession is followed by cutting down the forest cover in order to discover and create a proper country.
After the new world, the age of discovery, the scramble for Africa, the biggest recent age of territorial discoveries started after 1989. Appalling ecological disasters, Chernobyl and heavy industrial pollution and containment have somehow managed to isolate the communist gulag archipelago and transform large areas into a no-go Zone, practically an unofficial raw material reservation where the dreams of new economy capitalism became reality. The sinister ring of this archipelago had also something unwillingly paradisiacal, like a forlorn and lonesome continental version of a wild and colonially promising New Zealand prison-world.
The Iron Curtain and its walls have kept large parts of the communist archipelago in a state of semi-wilderness, unaccessible to entrepreneurs, and far from the reach of land rover Camel trophy capitalism. The present images demonstrate that the middle ages have not yet been superseded, they are somehow just pushed elsewhere or kept alive in newly discovered territories of the second and third world. The expansive middle age with its pioneering spirit and Promethean deforestation is not just a historical period of the past, it is a state of affairs where clear-cutting and internal colonization work in concert with the beat of axes and chainsaws.
Free-market cornucopias shake hands with the local bards of national bounty in the same clearing, a clearing growing on the outskirts of the forest just behind the modern city.
That clearing is actively produced, it does not stand on it own, it is influenced by the literary topoi, but it is not just a locus that discloses our communion with nature. The clearing demonstrates that underdevelopment can quickly turn into hospitable over-exploitation. Underdevelopment has acted as a preserving factor for natural resources and also as an economic teaser of epic proportion about untapped resources. Under-development was both an invitation and a permission to start discovering new lands and clearing new ground just when the developed world has stopped doing that at home. Huge debt, massive bailouts, big loans. gigantic investments rest heavily on new territorial discoveries and deforestation somewhere else. The capitalist world needs and feeds on dying agricultures, devastated industries, abandoned cooperatives, derelict areas, planned economies in shambles and unprotected labor ready for hire.