The newest ERIAC exhibition “The Roma Spring: Art as Resistance” presents a selection of artworks of visionary Roma artists from across Europe, taking stock of the current moment in time, in which Roma arts, culture, scholarship and political activism merge, interact and reinforce each other mutually. In the fields of arts and culture most visibly, but also in the academia, civil and political circles, we are witnessing an awakening among Roma – an interlude to full flourishment and development of Romani talent and potential, dormant within the confines of the Roma community.
In the context of this exhibition, Roma Spring is the process through which Roma individuals and entire communities amass self-awareness to celebrate the beauty and richness of the Romani diaspora. It is the process of rebirth and re-making of an ethnic pride, rooted in Roma history, identity and culture. It is the awakened vitality of Roma who re-claim a socially stigmatized identity, re-appropriating it through cultural affirmation. The Roma Spring represents a period of critical consciousness, new militancy and assertiveness as a stage towards self-liberation and self-determination.
But Roma Spring is not only about finding the energy to sprout through the hardened soil of the environment towards re-birth and re-affirmation. Like the “Spring of the Nations” (1848) or the “Arab Spring” (2010), the Roma Spring erupts in the face of the oppression. From within the Roma households and families, from within the Roma collectivity, a wave of peaceful resistance emerges, in protest of centuries of injustice, discrimination and mistreatment. The Roma Spring manifests itself through reclaiming of the public – its spaces and discourses – and re-taking of the political. In this process, those on the margins speak back to the mainstream center, demanding a recognition of Roma belonging. The Roma Spring is inevitably a period of social and political confrontation, of seeking historical justice and the parallel process of intellectual de-colonization.
The Roma Spring represents the birth of awareness of the power resting within the Roma communities, discovering the potential of the assembly, its performative character, and the significance of individual and collective acts of resistance. This process announces the inevitable emergence of a critical mass – and a collective critical consciousness – among Roma as the embodiment of resistance to inequality and injustice. The Roma Spring – as Resistance – blooms most visibly in the field of the arts, giving expression to the disagreement and tension boiling within the Roma communities. The Arts becomes a space of contention, confrontation and negotiation, in which the oppressive reality can be challenged and a new social order can be imagined.
Organized with the support of Gallery Kai Dikhas