Creating Narratives: ZEKE magazine and the representation of Roma
June 11 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Are the inherent requirements of a “good photograph” at odds with the requirements to accurately portray history and creating a narrative of minority subcultures. This panel will begin with a presentation of images in the Roma & Traveller issue of ZEKE magazine and then look at how documentary photography can be used to either confirm or break down stereotypes of groups outside the majority culture
A presentation and panel discussion with:
Margareta Matache: Roma rights activist, director of the Roma Program at the Harvard University FXB Center and author of “Denied Education: Why Romani Children Don’t Finish School” featured in the spring issue of ZEKE magazine
Mary Evelyn Porter: Writer and educator. Former USA Country Coordinator for Amnesty International. Writer for RomaRising project, featured in spring issue of ZEKE magazine.
Chad Evans Wyatt: Photographer, founder of RomaRising. His photographic portraits of successful Roma throughout the world are featured in the spring issue of ZEKE magazine
Margareta (Magda) Matache is an activist and scholar from Romania. In 2012, she was awarded a Hauser Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. For over a decade, Magda has been a powerful voice of the Roma in various grass-root, national and international contexts. Her views on the Roma plight have been captured and conveyed throughout the world by credible sources, such as The New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Time, Financial Time, BBC, EuroNews, Le Monde, Le Figaro, as well as by national media in Romania. From 2005 to 2012, Margareta Matache was the Executive Director of Romani CRISS, a leading Roma rights organization that defends and promotes the rights of Roma. During her mandate, Romani CRISS took a stand against discrimination in landmark cases targeting the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister of Romania at that time. Their advocacy and litigation efforts have also contributed to the approval of the domestic School Desegregation Bill. Previously, she served as a youth worker and trainer on cultural diversity and minority rights, using non-formal education tools. She has also worked as an election observer for missions in Western Balkans and implemented regional projects, including “Roma and the Stability Pact in South-Eastern Europe” and “Roma use your ballot wisely,” for the OSCE/ODIHR. She completed her Ph.D. in Political Sciences at the University of Bucharest. She holds a Master’s degree in European Social Policies. Her publications and research have ranged over the rights, agency, and participation of Romani children and adolescents, early childhood development, anti-Roma racism, reparations, segregation in education, and participatory action research.
Glenn Ruga is a photographer, graphic designer, curator, founder of the Social Documentary Network (SDN) and Executive Editor of ZEKE magazine. He has created traveling and online documentary exhibits on the struggle for a multicultural future in Bosnia, the war and aftermath in Kosovo, and on an immigrant community in Holyoke, Mass. In 2012, Ruga was one of three curators of the New York Photo Festival where he curated three exhibitions including work by Bruce Davidson, Platon, and Eugene Richards, Reza, and Lori Grinker. From 2010-2013, Ruga was the Executive Director of the Photographic Resource Center (PRC) at Boston University. He curated numerous exhibitions while at the PRC including “Global Health in Focus” featuring work by Kristen Ashburn, Dominic Chavez, and David Rochkind. From 1993 through 2009, Ruga was the founder and president of the Center for Balkan Development, a non-profit organization established to help stop the genocide in Bosnia and create a just and sustainable future in the former Yugoslavia. Ruga is also the owner and creative director of Visual Communications, a graphic design firm located in Concord, Mass. Glenn has a B.A. in Social Theory from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and a MFA in Graphic and Advertising Design from Syracuse University.
Chad Evans Wyatt is a portrait photographer, based in Washington, DC. During the 1970s and 80s Mr. Wyatt’s career focused mostly on corporate and government accounts. A trip to Prague in 1993 redirected his work: with the assistance of several well-known Czech public figures, he began a series on the artists of the Post-Velvet Revolution. Later, he embarked on a 20-year documentation of the Roma and Sinti of Europe. His signature project, RomaRising, has produced 400 portraits in 12 countries. His current partner, Mary Evelyn Porter, has reshaped and deepened the project with her addition of biographical narratives.
Mary Evelyn Porter is a Canadian writer and educator from Nova Scotia, Canada. She was USA Country Coordinator for Amnesty International in the 1970s. In the late 1970s she traveled to Argentina during the Dirty War and reported the torture and murder of dissidents by the military regime. Ms. Porter has written curriculum for English Language and English as a Second Language programmes teacher in California. Her publications include a narrative novel, “The Denisons, My Family’s Journey” and oral histories of the founders of the Farm Museum in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. In 2013, Chad Evans Wyatt asked Ms. Porter to create narratives to accompany his RomaRising images. The narratives give participants an opportunity to express in their own words the choices by which they chart their paths in life.
Regarding the featured image: Mihaela Drăgan is of Lautari heritage, whose family were slaves to the aristocrats and church hierarchy of Romania for over five hundred years. Her plays and dramatic performances focus on the limitations imposed on Romani women both by the majority culture and the patriarchal structures of traditional Roma society. In 2014, Mihaela founded Guivlipen (Feminism) to speak out against the stereotyping and hypersexualizing of Romani women. La Harneală examines the effects on Roma women and their families of evictions by Romanian authorities. She has also given TED talks on the almost unknown Roma Holocaust where Roma where deported by the NAZIS to camps in Transnistria. Photograph by Chad Evans Wyatt. Narrative by Mary Evelyn Porter.