The first time I saw the little kid in his grandfather’s arms I immediately had to think of The Tin Drum. That boy reminded me so much of Oscar. The look on his face, critical and curious. The way he had his ice cream without moving his eyes. Actually it felt a bit creepy.
But after a few minutes later he warmed up to me was was happy to be photographed. His grandfather was very conscious about the dirty environment in their Roma ghetto on the outskirts of Sofia. He wanted me to take their photograph only in one direction – towards their house.
Next to the Concordia building in Sofia is a massive soviet industrial complex. From the outside it looks almost scary. Dark. Run down, concrete only. The entrance lets one wonder what’s behind the doors saying “Keep calm and rule the world”. The old Dacia cut into pieces and converted to sofas is the first hint to a world of art.
The staircase leads up to a few storeys of various sizes. All artist’s studio. All artists welcomed me straight away, gave me little tours in perfect English and invited me to spend time with them.
The complex looks and feels like a life art gallery, work in progress and full of creativity. Every room is different, around every corner another surprise waits for you. I love this room that’s half storage, half installation. The telephone on the desk, the two chairs, the sign on the back wall all remind me of the movies about the cold war taken into a different context.
One of the artists who works mostly with steel. A new mould for a scull sculpture.
Concordia took me to some of the most deprived areas around Sofia to show me the appalling conditions the Roma have to live in. At first glance it’s indeed not very intriguing but after a while one realises that not everything we consider good or bad might be the case for someone else. I saw such a strong and beautiful community. Certainly the government should do a lot more to improve their status and accept their way of living. But for me personally it was a fantastic experience. Again, the positive, the emotional and also the fun draw my attention and not so much the circumstances.
When these guys came along with their horse cart I was expecting a lot but certainly not one of the funniest pictures I have ever taken. It happened so quick and in hindsight I am still wondering who’s got the better teeth?
Roma Community Sofia