Roma Visual Lab 7. (2017)
Returning for a seventh season in the spring of 2017, the Roma Image Studio was an unconventional form of learning and education in the scope of a community film club, with its activities based on the inclusion and active participation of its members. The Roma Image Studio ambitions to become a scene of cultural resistance in the spirit of socially engaged science. In terms of content, it devotes critical attention to the cinematic and general visual appearance and representation of Roma people, but in broader terms it is interested in the visual representation of every minority. The critical basic stance of the studio is resultant from the fact that the appearance and representation of Roma people in images throughout history has never actually meant their visibility as well, and this has not changed. In the process of making these images sharper, focusing on the relation of majority and minority as well as the social and cultural context of constructing images are of key significance.
The Roma Image Studio focuses on a different aspect in its analysis of Roma images each year, also relying on viewers’ response, guests’ impressions and suggestions in the development of the program’s concept and content. This year as well, there were certain similarities between specific points of the program, which may otherwise appear rather diversified. In 2017, we took various examples to test ourselves how it is possible to revive the community traditions of “evening-making” within an urban framework and combine it with the practice of image critique. The term had been used by an elderly Roma man in Látogatás (Visit), a 1994 film by Miklós Jancsó and József Böjt. Interviewed many years before by folklorist György Martin as a seasoned expert in stick dancing, the man was lamenting how the tradition of evening gatherings was becoming obsolete and being replaced by viewing the television. We intended to metaphorically expand the concept of evening-making at the Roma Image Studio, examining the formation of communities through various examples. From small communities to the grand community of the European Union overarching nations, the desire to create communities is omnipresent, and the screened films were aimed at thematising the open, diverse and permeable nature of communities. The film screenings and the subsequent discussions were public, and their video recordings were published on the Roma Image Studio’s Youtube channel.
The 2017 Roma Image Studio was joined by art theory students of the University of Fine Arts, headed by Eszter Lázár. Furthermore, we welcomed ELTE’s film studies and other students, for instance from the Faculty of Social Sciences. The course offered useful knowledge for students of art, art theory, film, and social sciences (anthropology, sociology, etc.) alike.
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