Roma Society 1999 - 2018 Still an Ongoing Project
Some prejudices start from our childhood and are 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 is a good sample for the established bias. 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. 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." The freedom of the person and the freedom of the soul could not be better explained than this. This word was a concise word that reflects the philosophy of Roman society. The person who said this was someone who collected recyclable materials from our domestic waste. However, his 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, N.Macedonia and Kosovo between 2016-2019, still ongoing in other Balkan countries. 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 "6th Djelem Djelem Roma Culture Festival" in Dortmund, Germany with the support of Dortmund Municipality.
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.