Nomen Omen - Destiny lies in the name

3rd prize at Savignano SiFEST, 2009

“No way out” is a reportage on the condition of the Roma community in its motherland, in the peripheries of some Romanian villages where this ethnic group is socially excluded and its future generations find it impossible to envisage a different future from that of their parents.

The work of art partly transcends daily events in order to describe their meaning through the signs found and collected by the author: dark and humble abodes, a distinct sense of affection, religious devotion, etc… These elements pervade the images until they become their distinctive traits. The operating approach seems to be integrated and deliberately filtered through the ambience, or out-of-focus and reflective details, etc. The resulting document is extremely intimate, even when the framing becomes more direct or, vice versa, apparently more distant. The images resonate with a fresh and skilled trait, capable of involving the observer without resorting to stereotyped visions, while retaining a consistent and dynamic contemplative pace. Daniela Bazzani’s experience with international reportage photographers such as Francesco Zizola and Antonin Kratochvil, taught her the approach and the investigative ability to pursue a social and humanitarian agenda.

Through her photographs we can – and should – also acknowledge that the “Roma issue” has a cultural and congenital origin. It is difficult to change the order (origin) of things… maybe it’s easier to sympathise with their destiny: “no way out”.

The lack of radical alternatives, the inevitability of their condition, teases our anguish for not being able to fully grasp the problems affecting this ethnic group as it seeks a way out in our very country.

 

Elena Falchi

Rumania, May 2009

 

 

Rumania, Transylvania - Buneşti, Dăişoara, Malancrav. Rumanian villages, different names but the same reality: the non Rom at the village front; the Rom on the outskirts.

The problem of the “Rom” or gypsies has deep cultural roots. A radical lack of alternatives, marginalization, doors to a different future shut tight. The inescapability of this condition is at the core of this project.

In the Rom culture, traditional elements and codes — the ethnic identity — are keep alive by inter-generational relations. Ethnic identification through self-perception — the ability to identify oneself with one’s ethnic group — is quite strong among the Rom and the women, with their keen maternal instinct, raise their children to the same destiny, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.

Children are the same everywhere, full of life, animated by good feelings. For children, belonging to the group passes through a code of linguistics, through kinship, forms of alliance and brotherhood. But the Rom children are left behind. They don’t go to school. Their childhood is cut short. They are destined to become adults all too soon. They wear clothing that does not suit them. They will not work. They will bear other children who will live this same life. And so on it goes. The man-woman relationship, understood solely as a logical system of generation, isolates the women in a sort of claustrophobic atmosphere. This is why this project focuses entirely on the women and children.

Returning from a village, speaking to Helena — a 12-year-old child she had just met — my Rumanian interpreter commented: “She says she wants to be a nurse when she grows up, but she will never become one”.

It is difficult to change the order of things. Born a Rom, die a Rom.

 

 

 

 

* The phrase Nomen omen is a Latin expression that literally means “the name is an omen” or better “the name bears a destiny”; it derives from the ancient Roman belief that a person’s destiny lies in his name.