Roma In Finland
About Two weeks ago I set out planning a photo project on the stereotypes associated with "Homelessness" in Finland."
The aim was to work with a feeding center in Kallio, Helsinki, and document the "Beauty" of a small percentage of the often "un-seen" homeless population that fall between the cracks of what is often refered to as one of the most prosperous nations in the World...
The shoot was arranged and the idea of collabotating on the shelter's magazine was put into motion and it was agreed that I would come and meet some of the people at the feeding shelter where they are provided with two free hot meals per day.
Last week I was telling a friend about the parameters of the project while at work at a local bar, when an American gentleman politely leaned in and explained that he had overheard our conversation and added that his mother in-law was in-fact assisting the homeless Roma population in Helsinki.
At first I was a bit scheptical, but decided to arrange a meeting with Pirjo to discuss her role in helping these people find work and shelter, and in the process transfer them from an "already poor" status in Romania, to an "even poorer" status in Finland where work is already scarce and the effects of what may be a new wave of the economic recession are currently being felt!
I was a bit weary of drawing attention to the political issues surrounding the cause of the influx of Roma people seen begging in Helsinki, which of course questions the legitimacy of Romania's acceptance into the E.U and the effect that rampant crime and corruption have to do with the distribution of wealth in Romania, but simply wanted to capture these people for who they are and get people to question the "stereotypes" associated with them! At 7 am I got up to meet them in their tiny Kalio appartment (donated by Pirjo) before they went out to beg for money...
Putting them in-front of a Finnish Flag achieved two things. First was a simple attempt at drawing attention to the issue that this is currently happening in Finland! It is a mark of the location of the photo and contextualizes the images. The Second was to draw attention to the "National Identity" of what it means to be Finnish - as many of the Roma people are making this beautiful this country their home and becomming citizens in the process...
I look forward to continuing this project in the future and also look forward to the possibility of exhibiting and printing the photo series in both local and international galleries and magazines!!!
Below are a few of the images from the shoot: