Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bury Me Standing

A friend introduced me to Isabel Fonseca's book 'Bury Me Standing', a book that plays out like a lyrical documentary in your mind. Fonseca, compelled by Roma culture in Eastern Europe, uses long periods of time living and writing with Roma families as a jumping off point to explore 'gypsy' culture, it's romanticism, scholarship and the day to day realities living within a marginal culture that is widely misunderstood and largely scorned. From the epigram that gives its weight to the title - "bury me standing, I've been on my knees all my life" - to the descriptive evasions of the usually exoticised nomadic lifestyle, Fonseca's book has played across my mind for a long time since reading. Maybe that is why I love Joakim Eskildsen's photographs of Roma culture from Finland to India, Russia, France and Hungary and everywhere in between.

When I'm writing I use photos a lot, both as the starting point and an anchor. These photos could, at any time, be the most powerful of both. It's as if any single photo is the jumping off point for an epic drama. Viewed as a whole - what is below is only a small selection of what you can find in Eskildsen's book or on his site - they are a sprawling, intertwining tale told across families, generations and continents.

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