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European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture opens 'FUTUROMA' in Venice
Valérie Leray, Castel “de la Pierre” Coudrecieux 2006 / Internment Camp for Gypsies, 1940-1946, France, 2006. Photograph, 100 x 100 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

VENICE.- FUTUROMA draws upon aspects of Afrofuturism to explore Roma contemporary art’s role in defining, reflecting and influencing Roma culture. FUTUROMA offers new and spontaneous re-interpretations of Roma pasts, presents and futures via a fusion of the traditional and the futuristic in order to critique the current situation for Roma people and to re-examine historical events. Imagining Roma bodies in speculative futures offers a counter-narrative to the reductive ways that Roma culture has been understood and constructed—thereby moving our cultural expression beyond the restrictive motifs of oppression toward a radical and progressive vision of Roma to come. The confluence of traditional knowledge and contemporary art practice evident within FUTUROMA combines to highlight possibilities for different ways of being. Here, artworks are rooted in the techniques and traditions of the Roma diaspora, but at the same time decisively forward-looking. The acts of remembering and imagining manifest within these artworks point toward ambitious visions of life-affirming futures and at the same time allow reinterpretation our collective pasts.

In their unique manner, each of the artworks on display in FUTUROMA variously employ and deconstruct different aspects of the primeval, the everyday and the futuristic. These objects move between the familiar and the unexpected, taking us beyond the confines of time and place to a different kind of objectivity—to a place to see anew. New site-specific works emphasize the implications of materiality—physical stuff that takes up space in the world. After all, it is the Roma’s physical presence that is continually contested, marked by questions of where and how we are permitted to exist.

As well as being a means to re-discover Roma history in an impactful and engaging way the project is a chance to envision a future where Roma truly belong. Daniel Baker, the curator states that, “As Roma we are too often told that we have no future—that we remain relics of the past. FUTUROMA draws together visions of our future to present an alternative perspective informed by all that came before and the promise of all that can be, placing Roma firmly in the here and now.”

Commissioner: The European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) has a unique and single mandate as the first transnational, European-level organization for the recognition of Roma arts and culture. The European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture e.V. (ERIAC) is a joint initiative of the Council of Europe, the Open Society Foundations, and the Roma Leaders’ initiative – the Alliance for the European Roma Institute. ERIAC exists to increase the self-esteem of Roma and to decrease negative prejudice of the majority population towards the Roma by means of arts, culture, history, and media. The Commissioners of the Roma exhibition of the 58th Venice Biennale are Zeljko Jovanovic, Chair of the Board and Timea Junghaus, executive director of ERIAC.

Curated by Daniel Baker

Artists: Celia Baker, Ján Berky, Marcus-Gunnar Pettersson, Ödön Gyügyi, Billy Kerry, Klára Lakatos, Delaine le Bas, Valérie Leray, Emília Rigová, Markéta Šestáková, Selma Selman, Dan Turner, Alfred Ullrich, László Varga

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