By Heidi Trautmann ….
The Last Gypsies of Cyprus – A Photographic Documentary Approach by the ‘Group Prime Four’
In my young days the remark ‘you live or behave like a gypsy’ did not have the meaning of a compliment, but in our romantic heads we admired them, we somehow all longed to get rid of our social chains, take the minimum of belongings in our rucksack and just walk off, working on the way to feed your body, what else did you need when you had the whole world at your feet. I think it was just that: gypsies did not recognize any official laws, any borders, the whole world was theirs to walk and live on.
The gypsy population in Europe, romanis and sintis and other subgroups, still comes up to some millions, some more millions in Central Asia and in America but no correct figure is known, as many refuse to register. They are of Indo-Aryan descent. In many countries governments try to socialize them, to make them give up their free life and to be subject to society rules, etc.
The photographers Yıltan Taşçı, Mustafa Evirgen, Ceyhan Özyıldız and Mustafa Müezzinoğlu – the Group Prime Four – as they call themselves, have undertaken a voyage over four years in search of the gypsies in Cyprus, and they found the last ones, literally the last ones in some open places in Cyprus. The results of this journey we could see in the exhibition from May 02-06 at the Atatürk Cultural Centre in Nicosia. I would say, a homage to a people whose traditions and values come equal to our – or at least my understanding of freedom, of living with nature, of living with little possessions to make travelling easy. In the introduction of the book, the four photographers speak of the beginning and the progress of their journey, click here
It is a very honourable project and they have my respect, not only for the openness and understanding they approached these people with, but also for the documentary and artistic realization.
Perhaps they can make this exhibition available in other cities and communities across the island as it represents a valuable documentary.
The book, supported by HE Mustafa Akıncı, is available for sale at the National Library and should be available soon in bookstores. The book contains hundreds of beautiful photos on 273 pages, price for soft cover 60TL and hard cover 80TL.