Exhibition in Glasgow celebrates Roma history and resistance

THE community of Govanhill, south of Glasgow, will host an exceptional and significant arts event today and tomorrow. Created for Gypsies, Roma, Travelers History Month, and titled astar e iag (fueling the flame), the program aims to “elevate the daily life of Roma life and culture and celebrate the intergenerational resistance of Roma”.

Just a month after the vandalism of the Roma Holocaust memorial in Glasgow’s Queen’s Park, astar e iag will focus on the cultural and political resistance of Roma to the often violent, sometimes genocidal racism they have been and continue to be to be faced in Europe. Hosted above the community arts space known as The Deep End, the show is another example of the ever-stronger foundations being laid by Glasgow’s Roma community.

It is also a timely reminder of the need for the Roma community and wider Scottish society to focus on Roma history and ongoing resistance.

The Roma peoples (Roma and Sinti), originally from northern India, have been present in Europe for thousands of years.

READ MORE: Roma Holocaust memorial desecration should shock everyone in Scotland

Due to the nature of the Nazi Holocaust of “Gypsies” (as the Nazis called all Roma and Travellers), numbers are uncertain. However, historians estimate that possibly as many as half a million Roma were murdered (about half the population in Europe at that time). Today in Europe, Roma continue to face appalling marginalization, neglect and persecution. In some countries, violence, and even death, at the hands of far-right terrorist gangs and the police is terrifyingly common.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to watch a short film, encounter a sound installation and examine objects from the new Community Archive which, like the entire astar e iag program, is the work of the community organization Romano Lav (Roma Voice ).

They will also be able to see an exhibition of photographs linking the history of the Roma people in Europe to the current Roma community in Glasgow.

The site-specific sound sculptures for the show were created by pupils from the local Annette Street Primary School, who worked with local artist Lorenzo Tebano. Children were encouraged to reflect on the relationship between nature and the built environment.

When children made “fantasy models” inspired by the sounds of nature, the models were enlarged to make them playable instruments. The “sound sculptures” that visitors will hear in the exhibition are the result of this project.

The photography exhibition was produced by local Roma youth in workshops led by artists Morwenna Kearsley and Alex Popa. Funded by the Scottish Government’s Equality and Human Rights Fund, the photo series has the stated aim of “celebrating the inspiring Roma of history alongside self-portraits taken in and around Govanhill”. .

The series includes evocative photographs of the Roma community in Poland in the 1970s. Focusing on the heritage of Roma dancing, these images (in color and black and white) stand out for their emphasis on the ornate beauty traditional Roma costumes.

Recent photographic works include terrific portraits of young people from Scotland’s Roma community and cheerful images of primary school children engaged in the sound sculpture project.

astar e iag events are also a celebration of Roma resistance and the solidarity that is built between Roma and the wider community in Glasgow and across Scotland. The program is inspired by the late great Franco-Roma anti-fascist and resistance fighter Raymond Gureme, who made a notable visit to Glasgow in 2019.

READ MORE: Part documentary, part metaphor, a haunting voice from Roma’s past

The exhibit quotes Gureme’s famous speech to Roma youth on Roma Genocide Memorial Day at Auschwitz-Birkenau on August 2, 2016. “My testimony is for young people,” he said. “Don’t leave your future in the hands of fucking fools!” You must resist. You must resist discrimination, racism,

and violent evictions of Roma and Travelers across Europe. We, the elders, lit the flame.

“Now it’s up to young people to feed it, to make it grow, and so that we become stronger. Young people, arise! Stay upright and never fall to your knees!

The astar e iag show can be seen at 43 Nithsdale Street, Govanhill, today and tomorrow from noon to 4pm, and admission is free.

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