At first sight, this exhibition is about private events in the lives of the cortorari Roma, their marital alliances and weddings, but in reality, it is about their political life.
For the most liberal among us, gender is a construct and love a given, whereas for the cortorari, gender is a given and love a construct: attachment is constructed in time, and families make matches based on criteria of clan. As they are public alliances, when the cortorari say they are doing politics, they are talking not about the life of the community, but about the tokmeală, a marital arrangement for their children, which they endlessly make, break, and negotiate. Not even the wedding marks the end point of these political alliances, nor does the birth of a girl to the young couple, but only the birth of a boy. For, the son remains in the parental home and inherits the taxtaj, a silver chalice that cannot be bought, not even for all the money in the world, while the daughter goes off to live with another family, who receive her only in return for a dowry of thousands of euros, as much as the two parties have negotiated behind the scenes. And until the birth of a son, the only guarantee the bride’s parents have that she will be treated well and not be sent back is their son-in-law’s chalice, which he leaves with them as security.
These subtleties to do with the politics of marital alliances between the parents of bride and groom, as well as many other things ineluctably connected thereto, are aspects that the exhibition sheds light on from a number of angles, bringing together two curators (Cosmin Manolache and Lila Passima), a filmmaker (Dana Bunescu), a photographer (Eric Roset), and an anthropologist (Cătălina Tesăr), who for more than a decade has painstakingly documented the life of this traditional Roma group from southern Transylvania.
© Muzeului Național al Țăranului Român, 2020
Proiect finanțat de AFCN