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Finding strength in hidden places

September 17th, 2010

Filed under: ART & DESIGN


When I was a little girl, playing dress ups and choosing to be a “gypsy” meant wearing a head scarf, big loop-y earrings and piles of other costume jewellery; maybe there’d be an eye patch too, but there would definitely be a bright, full skirt and flowing blouse with a peasant neck. Finally, a crystal ball could complete “the look”. Generally, being a “gypsy” meant you had licence to be creative, colourful, wise and mysterious. When I grew up and visited France in 1998, I encountered the real Roma for the first time. Clutching a baby at her breast, a teenager wandered through the summer crowds outside the Louvre, asking whether anyone spoke English. I said ‘yes’ and then she asked me to give her money. The next time I encountered the Roma was a few years ago at a roadside cafe in Italy. There were a few beat up cars parked around and about 30 Roma milling about, filling the little roadside cafe with their children, suspicious gaze, and unwashed scent. I remember feeling slightly afraid; they didn’t even see me. And the most recent involvement I’ve personally had with the Roma is via a Dutch duo who decided to examine the plight of these people – in Romania – in photographic and literary detail. Mike Roelofs, photographer, and Fanny Jol, anthropologist, joined forces to document some individual stories of these resilient people. Since 2008, and over the course of 4 visits to Romania, this has been a journey of curiosity and confronting investigation, and not just a flash-in-the pan reaction to the events happening in France in recent times. They wanted to examine the concept of how people can “rebound from pressure by adapting to problematic situations through flexibility and perseverance”. As humans, we all possess this ability, but how does Europe’s poorest of the poor manage it? And we’re not talking the sanitized, Disney version Roma, nor the French émigre type; we’re talking about the estimated 2.4 million Roma still residing in Romania.

At the exclusive photo exhibition, ‘Resilience’, which runs from 24 – 27 September at Strijp-S, Mike and Fanny will launch their book of the same name on opening night, Friday. One of the interviewed Roma, Marin Adalbert Farcasiu, will be there to tell his tale. I have had the privilege of seeing the book already, but I’m looking forward to being inundated by the full-size photos, with their powerful compositions and narratives. And meeting Marin, of course.

Where do you get your strength? Do you bounce back, time after time? Could you? Maybe find some of the answers next Friday, at the ‘Resilience’ exhibition opening and book launch.

It’s preferred that you register your attendance at the book launch/exhibition opening for Friday by sending an email to: mike@mikeroelofs.eu. For more details, visit www.mikeroelofs.eu or contact Mike Roelofs on +31 6-­‐30024813 or mike@mikeroelofs.eu.

Resilience Book launch and Exhibition location:
Strijp-S, Klokgebouw 50, Hall A, Ground Floor, 5617 AB, Eindhoven
Exhibition opening/ Book launch:
Friday 24 September, 2010 (7:30pm – 12:00am)
Resilience Exhibition continues Saturday 25 – Monday 27 September 2010 (every day, 12:00pm – 7:00pm)

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