The project consists of 7 to 10 large b/w photographs – portraits of homeless children –
Gypsies by birth. All they live on the street, deprived of homey comfort and parental care. They do not go to school, have no holidays, read no books; only occasionally go to movies when in winter the ushers allow them inside the cinema halls to get warm. For them the variety of the world around is just a view from the public transport cars windows, where they often access without paying tickets. I have no idea how they explain to themselves the presence of elegant people with happy faces, the luxury limousines. They earn the daily bread mainly by begging and stealing, and most of them are using acetone glue as a drug – the cheapest way to escape from reality. Who knows what they dream about?
Very important is the method of approach to each of these children, acquainted mostly to cruelty, and familiar only with cheat and lie. A lot of tact and patience are absolutely necessary to predispose this kind of children to share their secret dreams.
Besides a presentation of dreams will be added to each of the photographic portraits of these children – in various as media, but corresponding to its content way: video, children’s drawing, objects, a series of pictures, sound. When taking the pictures and talking to the homeless children I will be equipped with 2 cameras, one video camera, tape recorder, paper and color markers for drawing, some sweets and small presents.
The portraits will be in black and white, while the dreams should look colorful, motley, tasty, odorous, melodious, cheerful, beautiful, or simply strange.
In all our lifetime we are dreaming. Together with faith, the dreams are the most powerful support, which helps standing tests and brings hope when hard times are coming. Of course dreams rarely come true, and a priori are something unreachable. They don’t submit to will or reason; dreams are unpredictable and elusive, but serve as a guardian angels. And something more – dreams remain the same, no matter what color the skin of the dreamer is.
Gypsies are people who never had a home country of their own, leading a nomad life from centuries – on the road over and over again, dispersed all around the world. Started long ago, probably from the Indies, nowadays they live all around Europe, and in the last decades on other continents too. Persecuted, unwelcome and rejected, they inhabit suburbs and peripheries, bidonvilles, ghettos, or build the so called tabors around small villages. The organization of their small isolated communities follows strict rules of hierarchy, separation of roles between the family members and submission to the elders. Some gypsy clans are practicing the traditional crafts: basket-making, tinkering, whittling, forging, horse-stealing, playing various musical instruments.
Through all the years in Eastern Europe numerous minorities are living in countries with nationally compact population: Jews, Armenians, Turks, Wallachs, Gypsies, Gagauz. But the inherited non-tolerance, suspiciousness and low degree of preparation in society to accept the different, the “foreigner” as an equal person is increasing in our times and leads to a tragic existence especially for the Gypsies. Their life during the last decade of political and economical changes is getting extremely hard, as they are low educated and unqualified – only few of them have the chance to find a job. Unfortunately the only way to survive is stealing. There were many attempts to socialize and incorporate Roma people, al unsuccessful. The high Gypsy spirit doesn’t endure any domination – they prefer to stay poor but free. And despite all hardship Gypsies are always cheery, vivid, singing and dancing. Some have managed to turn their innate musical gift into a profession, but it’s and exception.
Families are not able to make their living and feed the numerous children, so the kids are often put into homes and orphanages, or pushed to beg.
Many of these kids are straight rejected and abandoned by their parents, thrown on the streets, deprived of going to school, and learn how to overcome everyday life by themselves. They live in railroad stations, anterooms of churches, subways and roofed markets. They mature in early age, come to know the cruel street rules and soon the naivety in their children’s eyes disappears.
Do they have some time left for dreaming after the constant strive for survival? Certainly their sad infantine hearts also cherish inmost wishes and desires.
I am highly interested to get acquainted with these children of the street, to get familiar with their hard way of life and their secret thoughts. I’d like to provoke them to confess their dreams – consisting probably from the taste of a chocolate, through the warmth of mother’s embrace to the fairy Christmas tree.
Elena Panayotova, Sept. 2001