Everyone Has A Story
A Short Description of Roma Culture
Some prejudices are starting from our childhood and imposed on us. It is one of them, to see some societies smaller, to stay away from them. Roma people and their way of life was a leading issue in them. But was everything really as described?
It had to pass years to find out. Everything started in 1999 when I was invited to a Roma wedding ceremony. When we were invited to the dance at the time of the ceremony, we had to entrust our bags to them. We didn't wish this, but we had no choice. I remember we're ashamed of ourselves when they deliver our bags after the dance. In this way, I had the chance to witness the inner workings of the Roma lifestyle that had been hidden for years. I won their trust and friendship.
I never forget a sentence of a father said in his son's wedding. It was about how the groom chose his wife. I was surprised when he says, “My son is mine, but his soul is not.”
How the freedom of the person, the freedom of the soul could be better explained.
This was a concise word that reflects the philosophy of the Roma society and this was a person who collects recyclable materials from our domestic waste. But the philosophy of life was far more advanced than most of us.
There is so much we can learn from this community with its unique culture. Perhaps the most important one is to learn to be happy with small things in today’s complex world. How many of us can do that?
My Roma project began in the year 1999 in Turkey, continued until 2014 in different regions. I worked in Bulgaria between 2016-2019. In 2019, I began to work in Macedonia and Kosovo. My goal is to continue my work in the Balkan countries and then turn it into a documentary photo album with its stories.
In the next 12 months, I will continue to tell the stories of the Roman society on my travels to Greece, Albania, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, and Kosovo. Visual stories are one of the most effective methods of telling a subject. As a storyteller the purpose of my work is to create empathy and awareness in the other part of society by telling the stories of Roma people we look at differently and whose lifestyles we disagree with also have. I believe I have succeeded to this day.
The first part of my works until 2010, was exhibited in 10 different cities in Turkey. My last exhibitions which included works from Bulgaria were exhibited in April 2017 in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, with the support of the Roma Foundation Amalipe; in April 2019 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria with the support of University of Plovdiv Paisii Hilendarski, in Sept 2019 in Dortmund, Germany with the support of Dortmund Municipality.