My photography canon has focused most recently on the plight of the Roma and travelers in Europe. I myself am Roma and feel that it is important to give the Roma, so long voiceless without influence or consideration by those in power, a voice. They are a culture marginalised and suppressed in society. I went to Britain in 1998 as a 8-year-old migrant. I always wanted to return to my roots in the former Czechoslovakia and document the environment and more importantly the people at Lunik IX where I had spent a number of years before it’s tragic decline into ghetto status. I have made three successful trips to Lunik IX, Slovakia most recently in March 2012. Sadly Lunik IX is no longer the benign enlightened communist municipal housing project of the 1960’s but rather sadly the largest Roma ghetto in Slovakia. Incredibly, there is 99% unemployment allied to alarming numbers of those addicted to drug and alcohol abuse from virtually cradle to grave. The very antithesis of the high minded socialist ideals that fueled the architects and builders behind the original utopian dream of a new community united in hope rather than divided by race, class, and cultural divisions.
Surprisingly, bearing in mind the widespread and well-documented marginalisation and abuse of Roma in Slovakia, my project attracted not inconsiderable interest from the printed, televisual and other media outlets both locally and nationally. On my return to Britain, my film project used as my final degree presentation led to wide spread interest and coverage in the local and national press here in the UK.
Lunik IX, Slovakia.
All text and photographs Artur Conka
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