Following the post I recently did regarding Lunik IX in Slovakia, I found an article about a project that I would LOVE to be a part of! Though I do have my own ideas regarding a photographic project with Roma and non-Roma children. I will definitely be watching out for more information about this:
Julia Johnson, along with Slovakian photographer Artur Conka, are seeking funds to help teach Roma children photography while creating a body of work with them to address the issues the community faces, particularly concerning education and health.
Some 15,000 Roma live at Lunik IX in truly shocking conditions. In the 1980s the Slovakian government deemed anyone they considered to be sociably unmanageable into Lunik IX. Consequently the buildings have become vastly overcrowded. There are huge issues surrounding crime, health and the welfare of the children who live there.
Yet, in spite of this within the community is a thriving nursery and school. The students learn subjects and are served hot meals at lunch: a provision that any child should be entitled to. It is within these spaces that Julia wishes to develop the project, teaching the children how to use photography to document the community, whilst they continue to document the wider participatory programme.
Julia also recently founded the ‘Life Through A Lens’ project for gypsy youths in the South East of England. She wanted to give these children the opportunity to collaborate with her to develop a participatory discourse relating to their lives, in order for them to take some ownership over the way they are portrayed.
Her colleague, who has embarked on this venture with her is award winning photographer and filmmaker, Artur Conka who was born at Lunik IX and is of Slovakian/Roma origin. Artur has returned to Lunik IX on a number of occasions to develop images of the community and feels this project is the crucial next step.
Julia said: “I visited with him in March 2012 to document the community and was saddened to see the way this group of people is treated. Not surprisingly, Artur is very passionate about delivering a project that gives young Roma the opportunity to collaborate with us to develop images of their lives and challenge the media’s stereotypical representations of their community.
“We need to obtain funds in order to run the project. Artur and I will be offering our services however, we need to travel to Lunik IX and we will need to issue the Roma children with cameras. When we return, we wish to create an online book regarding the exhibition with Slovakian translation, as well as exhibit the work in London. In turn, we will then attract the attention of NGOs in order to generate more awareness regarding the issue these children face and generate funding for the community through the sales of prints, books and postcards.”
If you would like to help Julia and her cause, please donate here: www.sponsume.com/project/my-gypsy-culture.
To see more of Julia’s work from the community at Lunik IX, go here: www.jcjphotographer.com.