Daily Picture Show

Joakim Eskildsen: The Roma Journeys

Born in Copenhagen in 1971, Joakim Eskildsen is a documentary photographer who has wielded his camera all over the world. From 2000 to 2006, Eskildsen and Swedish writer Cia Rinne undertook a seven-country journey with the intent of exploring the lives of the Roma, a subgroup of the Romani people who live scattered throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The photographic series and corresponding book are called The Roma Journeys.

  • Hungary: Zsólt and Adrienn, Hevesaranyos.  For Eskildsen and Rinne, the journey began in Hungary.
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    Hungary: Zsólt and Adrienn, Hevesaranyos. For Eskildsen and Rinne, the journey began in Hungary.
  • Winter V, Hevesaranyos.  In the 1500s, the Roma were forced to leave England.  They were forced into slavery in both Hungary and Romania until 1855.
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    Winter V, Hevesaranyos. In the 1500s, the Roma were forced to leave England. They were forced into slavery in both Hungary and Romania until 1855.
  • India: Sapera Girl, Jaisalmer District.  The Roma first migrated from northern India around the 5th century and largely in the 11th century after Muslim invasions of India.
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    India: Sapera Girl, Jaisalmer District. The Roma first migrated from northern India around the 5th century and largely in the 11th century after Muslim invasions of India.
  • Jhalana Doongri, Jaipur.  Little conclusive evidence exists about the Roma origins.
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    Jhalana Doongri, Jaipur. Little conclusive evidence exists about the Roma origins.
  • Greece: The Cable Car, Nea Zoi.  From Iran to Asia Minor, the majority of the Roma proceeded to Europe by way of Greece.
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    Greece: The Cable Car, Nea Zoi. From Iran to Asia Minor, the majority of the Roma proceeded to Europe by way of Greece.
  • Romania: Lucica and Mihai, Stefanesti.  The Roma have been subject to much discrimination over the centuries, particularly in Europe.  It continues today.
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    Romania: Lucica and Mihai, Stefanesti. The Roma have been subject to much discrimination over the centuries, particularly in Europe. It continues today.
  • France: St. Jacques VIII.  In 1979, the United Nations recognized the Roma as a distinct ethic group.
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    France: St. Jacques VIII. In 1979, the United Nations recognized the Roma as a distinct ethic group.
  • Frépillon II.  Still victims of violent anti-Roma sentiments, they have been pressured by Western European nations to abandon their nomadic way of life.
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    Frépillon II. Still victims of violent anti-Roma sentiments, they have been pressured by Western European nations to abandon their nomadic way of life.
  • Russia: Zhanna and Zemfira, Gorelovo.  In tsarist Russia, Romas were treated no more harshly than the rest of the impoverished peasants.
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    Russia: Zhanna and Zemfira, Gorelovo. In tsarist Russia, Romas were treated no more harshly than the rest of the impoverished peasants.
  • Home of the Marsinkievich Family, Gorelovo.  Under modern communist rule, the Roma of Eastern Europe were subjected to forced assimilation programs.  These often stripped the Roma of their unique language and culture.
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    Home of the Marsinkievich Family, Gorelovo. Under modern communist rule, the Roma of Eastern Europe were subjected to forced assimilation programs. These often stripped the Roma of their unique language and culture.
  • Finland: Tino Turning 18, Espoo.
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    Finland: Tino Turning 18, Espoo.
  • Gesterby II, Kirkkonummi.
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    Gesterby II, Kirkkonummi.

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The Roma were originally called gypsies when they first arrived in Europe over 500 years ago, as they were mistakenly believed to have come from Egypt. Today, although spread across countries and continents, the Roma share a common biological, cultural and linguistic history that can be connected with certain dialects of northwest India. Although traditionally known as nomads, the Roma largely live in settled communities, but their cultural history is complicated and enigmatic.

The Roma Journeys consists of seven series in different countries, in rough chronological order of the journey. For the selection of color images that comprise this slideshow, Eskilsen used both Pentax and Hasselblad medium-format cameras — machinery that uses large film negatives and yields beautiful, lurid imagery that is unrivaled, in some ways, by even the best of digital cameras. A second edition of the book will soon be for sale on the artist's Web site. Be sure to have a look at the rest of this wonderful collection.

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