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The

Last Grass
By Monica Vasile, Arryn Snowball, and Ștefan Voicu


On 20 August 2016, the sheepherders of the Southern Carpathians were driving thousands of sheep down the
mountains from the summer ranges. Bands of sheep along with their shepherds, donkeys and dogs were
following the stock trails, lining an empty, misty landscape, a terrain covered in yellowish rough grass. This year,
the grass had ‘finished’ early on the alpine meadows. It was dry - drier than it normally was at this time of the
year.

Keeping sheep is still a profitable business in


Romania, despite the fact that markets are
scarce, prices are low, and the pastoral
economy increasingly depends on EU
subsidies. Țara Loviștei, an area from
the central Southern Carpathians, has always
been fraught with grazing disputes. The
grass on the mountain ranges and around
the villages has never been enough for the
many local shepherds. Over the past 200
years, the local courts have dealt periodically
with dispute settlements, never ending
conflicts, a constant tragedy of the
commons. Yet, overgrazing is no longer the
Tara Lovistei in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania reason why the grass ‘finished’ early, but
instead drought and climate issues.

The exhibition, ''The Last Grass,'' explores the lives of


sheep herders and the hired shepherds. It brings together
photographs from Țara Loviștei, describing life on the
summer ranges at the sheepfolds, the journey down the
mountains, and the lives of shepherds back in the village as
homesteaders.

The photographers, Arryn Snowball and Ștefan Voicu, have


different backgrounds, reflected in their different visual
sensibilities: Arryn is an Australian abstract painter and
Ștefan is a Romanian anthropologist. Photographs were Stefan Voicu, Monica Vasile and Arryn
taken around the date of 20 August 2016, an intense time Snowball in Tara Loviștei, 2016
for the sheep herders of the area, as part of a research
project aiming at investigating Romanian commons more
broadly. Monica Vasile has curated the exhibition.

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