Roma art

Contemporary Roma art is a term that was first used by Tíma Junghaus at the beginning of the XXI century. The author is comparing this kind of art to the physical features of the black hole: ‘’The black hole does not exist, it doesn’t have substance, but it sucks in everything it meets. By this comparison, I’m showing how Roma art can function and how it should be seen. Perhaps there is no such thing as Roma art because Roma art can only exist until the Roma people get back their equality and freedom. This moment is, at the same time, near and far, we don’t know when it will happen and we cannot predict it. And until then ‘contemporary Roma art’ is the best term we can use. In this term all words have significant meaning. This art is contemporary because it is different from the vision of Roma art as the folkloric relic of the past. This art is art, even though on multiple occasions its status has been undermined (it was often seen as naive art, as craft, the educated Roma artists were sometimes exoticized). And, most of all, this art is Romani, because its creators are Roma people.

Even though in contemporary art national labelling does not matter as much – labels such as Polish, French, Roma or Latvian do not have much meaning, they are simply adjectives – the term ‘’contemporary Roma art’’ is an art trend closely related to a broader cultural background. It addresses the issue of the functioning of Roma people in not only art but in the whole culture and society. It also aims at developing a common language, which will make those issues visible (similarly to other kinds of emancipatory art – Afroamerican art, feminist art or LGBTQ+ art).

Currently, a lot of new tendencies are showing in Roma art. One of them is ‘’romafuturism’’ or Roma queering. Roma artists are slowly abandoning the role of activists and educators for individual and subjective experiencing of the world and their place in it. Wojciech Szymański accurately stated: ‘’Art created in such paradigm would keep its Roma lineage, losing it at the same time. It would be escaping the law of the excluded middle: it would be Roma art, without being it. It would use transnational Roma features, resigning from the risks coming from the too-narrow understanding of ethnicity. This way it would stand in a position of a weak and blurred identity avoiding definitions and appositions’’.

It’s worth following Roma artists to experience the art changing yourself!

Monika Weychert

Roma Culture Platform E-Drom is Fundacja Dom Kultury’s initiative and was conducted as a result of a collaboration with the association of Counselling and Information Centre for Polish Roma and the Museum of Roma Culture in Warsaw.

In 2021 the project was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sports, as a part of Fund for the Promotion of Culture.