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Gypsies, different people just like us

Tomasz Tomaszewski | Global

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My intention was to tell, in visual language, the history of a stateless nation, dispersed throughout the almost entire world and establishing, wherever it settles down, vivid and unique communities. Their customs, traditions and ways of life are little known to the rest of the world. I have tried to make a plea for tolerance towards those whose life-styles, religion and rituals differ from our own.

The origins of the Romany people remain unclear. A comparison of the language they use with Indic dialects seems to confirm the assumption that they came from the region of North-Western India, having abandoned it about the 9thcentury. Subsequent Gypsy migrations led through Iran and Asia Minor to the Balkans where, in the 14thcentury, the Romany set up a powerful and numerous community. Today, Romany population in Europe is estimated at about 12 million - a considerable majority of the 16 million living all over the globe.

Traditionally perceived as strangers, surrounded by distrust, or even despite, they have always existed as isolated groups on the margins of developing European communities - even though their contribution to the general cultural heritage, especially in music, dance and various handicrafts, is unquestionable.

My journeys tracing the lives of present-day Gypsies have confirmed my earlier belief that little has changed for the Romany. It seems that we have not yet learned the lesson of tolerance towards people who live differently form ourselves.

Before starting my project, I devoted several months to an extensive study of the subject, coming up with the final conclusion that, more often than not, our knowledge of the Romany people comes from the media - the source that is naturally prone to focus its attention on the sensational aspects, such as utter poverty, violation of human rights, or crime. The result is our fragmentary image of the Romany, often much distorted and responsible for the unjust and unjustified picture of the Gypsies in the public eye.

I strongly believe that my project explains man to man. It is addressed to everybody,especiallyto the young who, looking at the portraits ofGYPSIESDIFFERENTPEOPLEJUSTLIKEUS,may better realize the absurdities ofxenophobia and intolerance

Tomasz Tomaszewski

Batorego 19, 05-510 Konstancin, Poland

email: tomaszewski@mac.com

mobile: 48 510 235 305

www: academy.tomasztomaszewski.com

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