RomArchive showcases the cultural contributions of Romani people
"RomArchive is a project of historic dimensions," says Nicoleta Bitu, the newly-elected Chair of the Advisory Group and Director of Romano ButiQ, a Romanian Roma NGO. "The Advisory Group gladly acknowledges that its partnership with the German Federal Cultural Foundation in establishing RomArchive creates the premises that allow us to apply the principle ‘for Roma with Roma'."
The aim of RomArchive is to "set new standards regarding Romani self-representation", according to the press release. Bitu said the group intends to establish the first comprehensive digital archive of Romani arts.
The online collection will feature all forms of art by Romani people from all over Europe, as well as historical documentation and scholarly texts. Each section will have its own curatorial team.
Those interested in following the project can do so on Facebook. "We are proud that we were able to gather some of the finest artists of the Roma community as curators for RomArchive," Bitu says.
The archive's film section will be curated by Romani filmmaker Katalin Bársony, winner of the HBO Adria Award and director of Romedia Foundation, a Hungarian Roma NGO. Tímea Junghaus, art historian and curator of the international Roma Pavilion ‘Paradise Lost’ at the 52nd Venice Biennial, will be responsible for the visual arts section.
The photography section will be curated by the photographer and sculptor André Raatzsch, winner of the Barcsay Prize. Curatorial responsibility for the performing arts section will be shared by Rodrigó Balogh, an actor, film and stage director, director of the Independent Theater Hungary and winner of the UNHCR Refugee Prize for Theater, and Nedjo Osman, an actor and director with Cologne’s TKO theater and winner of the Yul Brynner Award.
The Archive’s music and literature sections will have their own specialized curators as well. Another section will collect scholarly research on political culture.
"We hope that with RomArchive we’ll be able to effectively counter stereotypes and prejudices by making knowledge digitally available to a broad public," explained Hortensia Völckers, Artistic Director of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. "The high-calibre Advisory Group testifies to RomArchive’s high standards and its international dimension in terms of cultural policy. Moreover, we are fortunate that two experienced partners, the European Roma Cultural Foundation and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, act as advisers to the project."
The Central Council's Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti will be curating a section of the Archive on the civil rights movement of the Sinti in Germany. "I am very glad that RomArchive will be able to raise awareness for the important cultural and historical contributions of our minority in their home countries," explained Romani Rose, a member of the Archive’s Advisory Group and Chair of both the Central Council and the Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma.
"We live in a democratic Europe," Rose said. "This gives us the chance to voice grievances and at the same time to point to and review our long history, [including] the part of Hungarian Roma in the uprisings of 1848 and even more in 1956, the part of the Roma in the subversion of the Ceauşescu regime in Romania as well as the contributions to music – be it classical or modern jazz."
Another key partner is the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, which has been entrusted with the technical implementation of the project. After an initial five-year term of management the two project initiators, Isabel Raabe and Franziska Sauerbrey, will transfer management of the Archive to a European Roma organization.
The Archive’s Advisory Group consists of artists, scholars, and activists, as well as representatives of international Roma organisations working in the fields of art, culture, and scholarly research: Gerhard Baumgartner, historian, Austria; Nicoleta Bitu (Chair), Romano ButiQ, Romania; Klaus-Michael Bogdal (Deputy Chair), literary theorist, Germany; Ethel Brooks, sociologist, USA; Pedro Aguilera Cortés, political scientist, Spain; Ágnes Daróczi, activist, Hungary; Merfin Demir (Deputy Chair), Amaro Drom – Interkulturelle Jugendselbstorganisation von Roma und Nicht-Roma, Germany; Jana Horváthová, Museum of Romani Culture, Czech Republic; Zeljko Jovanovic, Roma Initiatives Office, Hungary; Moritz Pankok, Gallery Kai Dikhas, Germany; Romani Rose, Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma, Germany; Riccardo M. Sahiti, conductor, Serbia/Germany; Anna Szász, European Roma Cultural Foundation, Hungary;and Zoni Weisz, activist and Holocaust survivor, The Netherlands.
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