Friday, November 20, 2009

Joakim Eskildsen: Photographs from Seven Years with the Roma

19/11/2009 - What began as a short visit to Hungary finished seven years later with a prize-winning book documenting the lives of the Roma people, from India to Eastern Europe. The photos are now on display in Germany. And with Berlin planning to repatriate up to 10,000 Roma, they are more than just pretty pictures.

It was nine years ago that Danish photographer Joakim Eskildsen and his wife, Swedish writer Cia Rinne, first decided to travel to Hevesaranyos in Hungary to document the life of the Roma people living there. Having just been to South Africa and seen the effects of apartheid firsthand, the couple became interested in what they saw as a form of apartheid in Europe: the way that the Roma -- commonly referred to as Gypsies -- were being treated.

And then somehow, that first trip to stay with the friend of a friend's Roma mother in Hungary for four months turned into a seven-year-long project. It wasn't planned that way but as, Eskildsen writes on his Web site, "once we had started we were unable to simply stop. The more we found out about the Roma and got to know them, the more our interest in, and liking for them, grew."

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