Page id: 12714
Gypsyism, Balkanism —Through a glass, darkly
V4 joins RomaMoMA
May 16 – November 30, 2023
European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture Serbia
Majke Jevrosime 51, Belgrade, Serbia
The same degree and intensity of generalization, reductionism, and stereotyping apply to imagining the Balkans and the Roma. Maria Todorova’s concept of Balkanism provides a sound theoretical framework to explore the deployment of Balkanist stereotypes against Roma in Eastern Europe and Western Balkans. As explained in her foundational text, Imagining the Balkans (1997): “By the beginning of the twentieth century, Europe had added to its repertoire of Schimpfwörter, or disparagements, a new one that, although recently coined, turned out to be more persistent over time than others with centuries-old tradition.”Both the Roma and the Balkans have been described as the “other” of Europe. It is in the field of the visual where epistemic and physical violence is the most obvious. Kotlár, Lacková, Mirga-Tas, Omara, and Tairović engage in intimate dialogue with the history of—frequently hurtful—representations of Roma. The participating artists do not care to conform to the standards of behaviour devised as normative by and for the “civilized world,” they choose artistic strategies which directly and consciously subvert the objectification, feminization, and sexualization of the Balkan and Roma identities. So, no wild nature, no savage locals, no guns, or other clichés. Instead of the gorges of the Balkans, we focus on here and now. Zoran Tairović’s Vašarište, Omara’s Mogyoród, the idyllic landscape by Mirga-Tas, and Vera Lacková’s depiction of Roma partisans during the Second World War present an updated picture of Roma, seen by Roma masters. Ľuboš Kotlár’s series case study: Jerusalem provides an ironic commentary on the Instagrammability of Otherness.
Belgrade, the gateway to the Other, is also a silent participant of this exhibition, pinpointing Serbia’s liminal position between “Europe” and the “Balkans” as a potentially ideal standpoint from which one might challenge the binary oppositions of Gypsyism and Balkanism and begin to reimagine the Roma and the Balkans, redirecting these categories as a site of political engagement and critique.
On the occasion of Roma Resistance Day, May 16th, we officially opened the exhibition “Gypsyism, Balkanism – through a dark glass“.
ERIAC Serbia Director, Jadranka Ivkovic, opened the program by talking about the importance of Roma Resistance Day and the project V4 joins RomaMoMA. In front of the Ministry of Culture of Serbia, the exhibition was officially opened by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Culture, Alma Rizvanovic. Distinguished guests were guided through the exhibition by Bratislav Mitrovic, ERIAC Serbia Office Manager. The program was moderated by Silvija Nesic, an ERIAC member. The event was graced by the presence of the Ambassador of Germany in Serbia, Anka Konrad, as well as the Deputy Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Serbia, Josef Broza.
The opening of the exhibition was accompanied by a reading of Meti Kamberi’s poetry from his first collection of poems, “Disi dok te ima” performed by Slobodan Bestic, actor, Champion of the National Theater in Belgrade, professor of acting at the Faculty of Contemporary Arts. We closed the evening with a musical performance by Dragan Stankovic on the guitar and Bojan Vasic on the violin.
The opening is a part of the Khalili Foundation’s World Festival of Cultural Diversity.