Pictures of Roma in Geneva


Born in 1972, Eric Roset, Genevan photographer native of France, has fallen beneath the spell of the Gipsies « reading Propser Mérimée’s novels and discovering Emir Kusturica’s baroque movies ». In 1998 he met the Roma for the first time during a trip to the land of the vampires. He wa sshocked at once by the racism that this community of two million people is enduring.


The following winter, this self-taught photographer shoots some pictures of Roma children begging at a crossroad near the city of Brasov. The subject will motivate him to go back about ten times to Romania and will lead to the “Opre Roma! Stand up Roma!” title of a first exhibition shown in Geneva, Paris and Marseille among other places. Eric Roset also takes pictures of Gipsies in France and in Switzerland.


One day, traveling in France, Eric meets a small group of Roma. These broke travelers come from Aiud a small town in Transylvania and the aim of their journey is … Geneva. They will draw some money from this city begging, living with no roof, no heating and no water. Other members of their community later join them.


Eric Roset gets in touch with these Europeans who sleep under bridges. His pictures show how they beg but also how they come together and relax during the day or in the evening. He pictures them eating, sleeping, playing and partying and manages to capture the streak of eccentricity typical of the Gispsies and that fascinates the Gadjes. “Roma are not only beggars”, Eric Roset insists.


The pictures of this instinctive photographer also show the look of passers-by confronted to begging. These show that the closeness of this gesture is never easy. It is this very difficulty that leads to the departure of the Roma and not criminality – police don’t accuse the Roma of stealing – or the existence of a network.


Mid-November, the Genevan authorities launched their plan to get rid begging. Eric Roset witnesses two evacuations of Gipsy camps, something that he already had pictured in Paris. “One could have let them find a place to live or even better let them work” he says. The stay of these Roma in Geneva “made it possible for some families to enhance their living at home … but in undignified conditions”. That is Eric Roset’s conclusion who is also a member of the Genevan association Mesemrom which means “I am a man”.


Stéphane Herzog


Translation M-A Schüpfer


Some Pictures of Roma Migrating in Geneva