26 May — 28 August, 2016
Twelve million Romani live in Europe. Some of them you will meet in Non grata (Not welcome), Fotografiska For Life’s important exhibition featuring Åke Ericson’s photographs of Romani lives in ten European countries.
Ericson presents superb photographic representations of people who live in inhuman conditions
Mastering documentary photography’s capacity to tell stories about our world and bringing its unknown parts closer to us, is an art. In intimate and personal encounters, Ericson presents superb photographic representations of people who live in inhuman conditions, as well as depicting their everyday life, their love and their culture. In a classic documentary tradition, Ericson relates a highly topical issue, bringing the real world very close to us, Pauline Benthede, Fotografiska’s Exhibition Manager explains.
It all started in the summer of 2009 when Åke Ericson found himself in the city of Breclav in the southern Czech Republic. Here he learned that the mayor had evicted two Romani families from their homes – in a city where they had lived for several generations – to make space for a new shopping mall in their neighbourhood. They were moved to a stable that stank of ordure and lacked both running water and heating. This is how it began, the documentary photo project about the Romani people of Europe and their living conditions. For five years, Ericson has depicted the daily life of the Romani in ten countries: France, Serbia, Kosovo, Romania, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain and Switzerland.
The Romani feel discriminated everywhere in Europe. They often live outside of society without human rights: social, political, cultural and economic...
...However, some countries stand out – those of East Europe. Here a Romani name is a one-way ticket to ghettos such as Lunik IX outside Kosice in eastern Slovakia, says Ericson.
Ericson aims to reach beyond the clichéd image of the Romani
In contrast, Spain is a country where Romani culture is largely accepted by the majority population. Romani children attend regular schools and can climb the socioeconomic ladder and Romani marry other Spaniards. With this photographic series, Ericson aims to reach beyond the clichéd image of the Romani.
I didn’t just want to show the repression and misery under which many Romani live. My story is also about the Romani who are integrated in European everyday life. While I was photographing in Europe, poor Romani from Romania and Bulgaria began begging on the streets of my hometown, Stockholm. I hope my images can help you understand why.