By way of an introduction to the project; what follows is an article that Annemarie wrote for
‘Amaro Drom’ the Roma magazine produced by the Roma Parliament in Budapest, April 2009.
Old Transit Van Travels, to meet Roma …
We are two award winning women photographers, artists and gardeners living in Wales, UK, who have been working together for many years, mainly on projects we have raised money for ourselves from public agencies like the Arts Council of Wales, who are funding this coming visit to Hungary. Doing things this way we can purposely choose to photograph/film events or people, if they are willing to collaborate, and we can freely comment on subjects and circumstances we feel strongly about and that in our opinion need drawing attention to and exposure in the public sphere.
Our work is varied and enjoyable having taken us to document former mining communities in South Wales as well as making a kitchen garden locally together with people recovering from mental illness or involving Black and Asian minority groups in London in photo projects documenting their environment - just to mention three examples.
Our main areas of concern are primarily people, especially women, human rights, racism and abuse, poverty, unemployment and ill health.
Secondly the environment which has increasingly been degraded and exploited for profit as well as people, rather than cared for with the future in mind. We also feel the relationship between people and their environment is crucial for it has to be regarded holistically as one entity with a mutually beneficial goal rather than two separate ones ending ultimately in the destruction of both.
With the above in mind we are setting out at the beginning of May 2009 on our journey from the UK to Hungary to meet, to speak with, to listen to and work with Roma individuals, groups, agencies and projects. Last year we have already made contacts and some friends in Budapest, Miskolc, Debrecen and as far away as Oradea in Romania.
From 20th May we will be staying on a camp site in Budapest for 6 weeks and then move on to live in our converted van parked in a Roma settlement in the North East of Hungary and wherever invited for a further 6 weeks ending around 5th August.
In this period we are looking for any Roma women, men and children who are willing to meet and speak openly about their present lives and surroundings and how they see the future. We hope to hear ideas of what can best express and advance Romani culture and identity and what has to alter in order to progress in harmony with the environment, be it the surrounding natural habitat or gadje society. We would very much like to hear from individuals, couples, families, professionals, artists, activists, in fact anybody able and keen to express their personal view, feelings and opinion in conversations with us in front of a (video) camera, if possible or in writing or in pictures on paper as a personal statement as a Roma member of a community.
An exhibition of photos, video films and text giving evidence of the Roma voices, pictures and words gathered during our journey is going to be shown in Wales in January 2010.
We then hope to raise additional funding to enable us to show the exhibition in the Roma Parliament, Budapest and the city gallery, Miskolc
This project marks the beginning of what we hope is going to be a long-term relationship with the Roma Parliament. We are very happy that the building has been saved (and all the people in it) and that there is hope for the future. We have also been thinking of ways of sharing our organic gardening skills with Roma women. We could, for example, initiate an environmental project growing fruit and vegetables on derelict land in the VIIIth district. Is anyone interested – could it happen?
See you soon.
Annemarie Schöne & Tina Carr 7th April 2009