From January 2019, RomArchive, the digital archive of the Roma, will make Romani arts and cultures visible and demonstrate their contribution to European cultural history accessible online in three languages (English, German, Romanes). At last, a counter-narrative told by Roma themselves offers a reliable source of knowledge that confronts stereotypes and prejudices with facts.
On the occasion of the launch of the archive website, the international festival Performing RomArchive in Berlin shows the richness and versatility of this cultural and artistic production.
Unless otherwise stated, the programme takes place at the Akademie der Künste with free admission. Admission to the exhibitions is likewise free during the festival.
All events will be held in English and German language respectively translation.
Akademie der Künste
Pariser Platz 4, 10117 Berlin
Isaac Blake has been leading a team of academics and researchers in collating appropriate items and artefacts for the RomArchive. While “hegemonic” archives have almost exclusively portrayed Roma in stereotypical ways, RomArchive focuses on their self-representation: New narratives will emerge, reflecting the heterogeneity of the Roma’s diverse national and cultural identities. The wealth of their artistic and cultural production – tightly interwoven with that of Europe as a whole, centuries old, lively and varied to this very day – will become visible and publicly accessible. This way, the project seeks to counter persistent stereotypes and deep-seated prejudices. RomArchive is thus addressed not only to Europe’s largest minority, but also to Europe’s social majorities.
Roma have shaped the archive in all positions of responsibility – as curators, artists, scholars, and members of the project’s advisory board. The curators have determined the contents of the archive and select and gather works of art from the fields of dance, film, literature, music, theatre and drama, visual arts, material on the politics of photography, eyewitness reports related to the persecution of the Roma under the Nazi regime, and scholarly material on the civil rights movement.
Intelligent contextualisation provides background information, helps understanding of complex interrelations, and thus ensures nuanced readings of the works on display. The archive’s aesthetically appealing magazine-style web interface, with images and stories providing vivid introductions, will inspire users to delve deeper into the topics presented.
Isaac Blake, Director of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company says “It has been a privilege working across Europe with my team. We know we have developed a ground-breaking online exhibition and archive of the richness and vibrancy of our communities.”
Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Wales says “Culture is strengthened by the diverse experience and creativity of all sections of contemporary society. In spite of globalisation – perhaps because of it – we find ourselves living in an increasingly fractured society where all too often we can seem small‑minded, mean‑spirited and ill at ease with ourselves. The RomArchive initiative provides an important and timely reminder of the dynamism of the Roma traditions. A tolerant and fair society recognises the creativity of all its citizens. We warmly recognise this celebration of the creativity and identity of an often ignored community.”
Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip and whose work covers the Romani community said, “Congratulations to the Romani Cultural and Arts Company for the excellent work they’ve undertaken in Wales and across Europe in the development of RomArchive. Promoting the works of Welsh Romani’s such as Howell Wood is an excellent way of showcasing the contributions of the community. The arts help us to celebrate diversity and break down feelings of distrust, ignorance and prejudice; they have a vital role in creating a fairer, more equal and more tolerant society.
“Last June, Welsh Government published its ‘Enabling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers’ Plan which seeks to tackle some of the fundamental injustices faced by these communities. The publication of this Plan reinforces our commitment to improving equality, providing opportunities and narrowing the gaps experienced by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers across Wales.”
Press coverage notably from (Travellers Times)