I am very glad to finally present here the photography exhibition of the Roma kids who participated in the Third Eye Workshops I led in Bulgaria last summer (see the project at its official website, Treto Oko). Hopefully one of many to follow in the future, it will take place at Tarrant County College (Northeast campus) from April 1 to 20, 2011 and will be part of International Week at the college. It will also include my photography done in these communities and the parallels between the students’ and my photos will show their distinct point of view, the things they paid attention to and what they wanted to say about themselves.
The title of the exhibition is “Gypsies without Borders” to allude to the meaninglessness of national borders for traditional nomadic Roma/Gypsy culture, which rejected both assimilation and stationary residence. It also alludes to the forced expulsions last summer of Roma of Bulgarian and Romanian origin living in camps in France that caused international uproar and the protest of human rights organizations.
While “without borders” in the title is rather self explanatory, the word “Gypsy” took a lot of thought and consideration. The term often used by Roma/Gypsy people to describe themselves is “Roma”, but it is not very well recognizable in the US and is often mixed up with “Rome” or, sometimes, with “Romanian”. Gypsy, on the other hand, conveys a romantic flair and also may have a derogatory perception, which I definitely wanted to avoid. I decided for that, however, because it is not totally shunned by Roma people, is more clear and also because there is a music band named Gypsies without Borders celebrating the traditional melodies of Roma/Gypsy people.
This said, I hope that you drop by and see the wonderful photos that came out of the workshop!