From : Warsaw
To: Skopje

Richtung Venezia

Writing/ Research, Interdisciplinary, Visual Arts

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How did this grant contribute to the realization of your project in regard to artistic exchange, local cultural development and/or the promotion of cultural diversity?

Together with Anna Łyszcz we travelled to Shuto Orizari (Shutka), an autonomous Roma municipality on the outskirts of Skopje to complete collecting the material for our ongoing project “Richtung Venezia”. This project is conducted at the intersection of anthropology and documentary storytelling through extensive field research and visual interpretation of spatial identities. It looks into Shutka’s practices of dwelling and how they are influenced by the contemporary nomadism of its inhabitants. By living with a local family in Shuto Orizari, we were able to continue our research, which included conducting interviews with inhabitants of the houses, participatory observation, meetings with members of local organisations and academic Institutions as well as photographical documentation of the area. Shuto Orizari is the only administrative unit in the world that adopted Romani as an official language and where Roma gained such political autonomy. We hope that by portraying such unique place we will introduce a different, more just image to the present discourse and speak in favour of cultural diversity. Collected material will hopefully be published in the following year in form of a book containing photographs and essays.

How does exchange, networking and international contacts contribute to the development of your artistic and cultural project?

Getting to know the local cultural scene and meeting people from the region of Balkans was crucial for understanding the place we’ve been trying to portray. Our fieldwork would be impossible without people who were willing to share their knowledge and who offered their support in understanding the context of the place, as well as encourage us to continue investigating this topic. An extremely valuable experience was meeting young members of the Roma community, mostly working in the local NGOs, who introduced us to their perspectives and talked about hopes and aspirations of the new generation of Roma - a voice that in many cases is absent in the media, usually concentrated on the more traditional image of the Roma minority.

Can you elaborate on the learning and knowledge you have gained and shared throughout this experience?

It wouldn’t be possible to understand the phenomenon of Shutka without living there and getting to know it’s inhabitants. While listening to the personal stories, we were at the same time learning about the massive changes in the whole region (political, social, cultural) that influenced the transformation of the area. By staying with a local family we were participating in daily life of Shuto Orizari, which brought us many valuable insights and taught us about the current situation of Roma in Macedonia, their struggles and problems, as well as customs, traditions and rapidly changing culture.

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Roberto Cimetta Fund

c/o ONDA
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