Curators: Cosmin Manolache and Lila Passima
Photography: Eric Roset (link) with contributions from Cătălina Tesăr
Storytelling: Cătălina Tesăr
Translation: Alistair Ian Blyth
Film direction: Cătălina Tesăr și Dana Bunescu
Camera: Cătălin Mușat, Ileana Szasz, Cătălina Tesăr
Film editing: Dana Bunescu
Romanian subtitles: Cătălina Tesăr
English subtitles: Alistair Ian Blyth
360 Photograpy: Marius Besu // link
Online app: youngminds // link

A project financed by AFCN.

The exhibition is based on long-term anthropological research into cortorari Roma, who live in villages in Olt Country and on the Tîrnave River. I encountered them for the first time in Brateiu village, Sibiu County, in the autumn of 2001, during a student summer camp, and I returned there that winter for the baptism of the daughter of a Roma couple. For the next few years, I visited the family and became a godmother at a baptism. The closer I became to the cortorari Roma, the less I felt I knew about them.

In 2003, I decided to start research into this population of Roma for my Ethnology Degree, which I took in 2004, and went on to do research for two MA degrees: the first about the cortorari Roma’s unfinished houses and the second about tahtai (goblets) and kinship relations.

In 2007, I was awarded a Wadsworth International grant by Wenner Gren U.S. to take a PhD in Anthropology at University College London. Between 2008 and 2010, I lived in Brateiu to conduct PhD research and learned the language of the Roma. During this period, I met Swiss photographer Eric Roset, who was fascinated by the discovery of this community.

At the end of 2016, I was awarded a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ethnographic Film by the Wenner Gren U.S. foundation to make a documentary film based on my PhD research.

In 2017 and 2018, I travelled to Merghindeal village, Sibiu County, to do filming. The documentary is currently in post-production, and a selection of the material not included in the final cut is presented in the exhibition.

Since 2006, I have worked at the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, an institution that has supported my research into the cortorari Roma, which has focused mainly on the dynamic of gender relations, arranged marriages, the relationship with ancestors, and the forms in which symbolic and material wealth are valorised.

The exhibition brings together photographs taken by Eric Roset among the cortorari from 2008 to 2012, a few of my own photographs, taken from 2008 to 2014, and films I have shot among the community, some of them dating from 2005, others more recent, made during production of the aforementioned documentary.

I am grateful to the cortorari Roma who welcomed me into their homes with open hearts and who have become my adoptive family. I would like to mention Costică, Băra, Uca, Peli, Nina, Rusalina, Bebe, Maroașca and Ucuța in particular. I hope that I will be able to convey a small part of the love I feel toward them to people who don’t know the cortorari.

Cătălina Tesăr

 © Muzeului Național al Țăranului Român, 2020
Proiect finanțat de AFCN