Closer

Get closer to a moment in Roma culture

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This exhibition showcases fragments of Roma culture through artwork by Robert
Czibi, a Hungarian Roma artist living in London.

The Roma’s intimate relationship with nature counterbalances their dispossession of
the material world, which does not belong to them, but which can be overcome by
constructing a parallel universe through myth and storytelling. The fortune-teller
represents the topos of the oracle among the Roma: a person of magical power who
is connected with the supra-natural, thus attaining superior knowledge, which may
serve as a guiding principle in individuals’ lives.

The Roma are bonded through a culture of sharing possessions: little does it matter
whether the shared possessions are bones or gold, a new caravan or a house,
horses or a television set. What belongs to one belongs to all. Through this culture of
sharing a sense of belonging is transmitted throughout the generations.

Everyday practices and adherence to unwritten rules provide the beat, the
fundamental rhythm of Roma life, to which the adoption of new customs, fashion,
and languages bring variation in an ever-changing and reinvented cultural

The vagabond is a symbol of groundedness and perpetual motion, of an insistence
on safeguarding customs and beliefs, while adapting to new environments.
In the representation of their own culture, many would argue, the Roma have
embraced perceptions which exist about them in public imagination.

The exhibition raises the question: in the case of a group which shows as great a diversity, yet as great a continuity of tradition, as the Roma, what do the Roma themselves have to say about features of Roma-ness in the 21st century?

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