ABOUT THE PROJECT
RomArchive is the digital Archive of the arts of the Sinti and Roma. It is devised as an ever-growing collection of art of all genres, enhanced by historical documents and academic texts.
Unlike “hegemonic” archives that tend to portray Sinti and Roma almost exclusively as mere stereotypes, RomArchive focusses on their self-representation.
These emergent narratives will reflect the heterogeneity of the different national and cultural identities of the Sinti and Roma. The wealth of their centuries-old, multifaceted artistic and cultural production – one interwoven deeply with its European counterpart and still vibrant and alive today – will become visible and accessible to the general public.
In doing so, the project seeks to counter persistent prejudices and imposed stereotypes. RomArchive addresses therefore not only the largest minority in Europe, but also the majority societies of Europe.
Occupying all positions of responsibility, Sinti and Roma will shape the entire archive as curators, artists, researchers, and also as members of the project advisory committee.
The curators will determine the contents of the archive, selecting exemplary works of art from the genres of film, visual arts, photography, theatre, dance, music, and literature.
An intelligent conceptualisation will provide background information and help visitors gain an understanding of the complex contexts, thus ensuring a nuanced interpretation of the artworks shown. The homepage of the archive – designed as an aesthetically pleasing, magazine-like interface – will invite the visitors to explore its vivid images and stories and to engage in-depth with the subjects presented.
RomArchive will go online in 2018. Until then, the work of the curators and information on project development can be accessed both online on this blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter, and offline by attending cultural event associated with the project that will take place in various European cities.
Until RomArchive launches, this blog will be the main means of communication. It is here that we will release in-depth multimedia content like reports, interviews, controversial debates, essays, and other features.
The idea behind RomArchive is based on extensive research and multiple interviews with Sinti and Roma artists, curators, activists, and academics from all over Europe, conducted by the project initiators Franziska Sauerbrey and Isabel Raabe.
The interviews showed that there is a need for an internationally accessible platform that would display the cultural and historical narratives the Sinti and Roma. In doing so, the Roma would be able to counter the enduring prejudices and stereotypes by telling their own history.
RomArchive considers carefully and critically both archival practices as well as the limits and power structures of canon formation. It also does not lay claim to completeness – rather, RomArchive considers itself an ever-growing platform displaying exemplary collections.
RomArchive will differ from other, static databases in its aesthetics and methodology because of its curated content, modern storytelling, and intelligent conceptualisation.
Funding and project sustainability
The German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) sponsors RomArchive with 3.75 million euros, sending a clear signal: One of the largest public foundations of Europe devotes itself to supporting Europe’s largest minority, acknowledges the wealth of the centuries-old culture of the Sinti and Roma, and seeks go give greater visibility to it. That a German federal institution chooses to do so is of particular importance against the background of the Nazi genocide of 500,000 Sinti and Roma.
The European Roma Cultural Foundation and the Central Council of the German Sinti and Roma have played an advisory role in this project from the very beginning,
The Federal Agency for Civic Education supports RomArchive as well.
The Goethe-Institutes of Budapest, Bratislava, Bucharest, Prague and other cities are also involved in the project, supporting it with events in their respective countries.
The Deutsche Kinemathek foundation provides support related to the technical implementation of the project.
RomArchive will be a multilingual archive in order to be internationally accessible. In addition to German and English, the archive will also use Romany from the start. Whether translations into other languages become available will depend on the sponsorship of the countries the languages are spoken in.
„sauerbrey | raabe gUG“ is going to be the manager of the five-year-long setup phase of the project.
At the end of these five years, Isabel Raabe und Franziska Sauerbrey, the initiators of the project, will consign RomArchive to the care of a European Roma organisation. In order to ease the transition, the Federal Agency for Civic Education has already agreed to sponsor editorial maintenance of the archive from 2020 onwards for five additional years.
Dr Nicoleta Bitu (Chair)
Professor Dr Klaus-Michael Bogdal (Deputy Chair)
Merfin Demir (Deputy Chair)
Herbert Heuss (permanent guest of the Advisory Board)
Project Managers and Initiators
Technical Implementation: DEUTSCHE KINEMATHEK