Under Erasure - Aspects of Roma/Gipsy/Traveler Life in Europe - Exhibition

Sep 16, 2015

Inspired by Elvira Djangani Ose’s curatorial vision for the GIBCA 2015 proposing the notion of “history, as an open work” Gallery8 – Roma Contemporary Art Space (Budapest, Hungary) in collaboration with Gerlesborgsskolan (Gerlesborg, Sweden) curate the exhibition Gipsy Under Erasure. The exhibition uses Under Erasure (Sous rature) – the key terminology of Derrida’s deconstruction as a strategic, philosophical and practical device in order to explore the aspects of Roma life and aesthetics in present-day Europe. The Roma, Europe’s largest minority (of 10-12 million people) are subject to physical attacks, forced evictions, mass deportation,  economic exploitation, cultural depreciation and political exclusion.

Participating artists:

Daniel Baker (UK), Tibor Balogh (HU), Lada Gaziova (CZ), Damian Le Bas (UK), Delaine Le Bas (UK), Dushan Marinkovic (SE), Omara (HU), Tamara Moyzes (SK), Sead Kazanxiu (AL) Teréz Orsós (HU)

The exhibition is complemented by an extensive archival research into the stereotypes and representations of Roma, and the photographs of Miklós Déri.

Opening date: October 1, 2015, 6.30 p.m. at Gerlesborgsskolan
(Gerlesborgsskolan Bohuslän, Gerlesborg 1, 457 48 Hamburgsund, Sweden)

Opening speech:
Jesper Eng, curator, Gerlesborgsskolan
Timea Junghaus, curator, art historian

The notion Sous Rature does not refer exclusively and literarily to the current situation of Europe’s largest minority living under the threat of being erased, it activates the 'under erasure' - concept originally developed by Martin Heidegger, and then used extensively by Jacques Derrida - which involves the crossing out of a word within a text, while allowing it to remain legible and in place. The Gipsy under erasure signifies that the Gipsy/Roma/Sinti/Traveler-word/notion is "inadequate yet necessary"1 that the particular Roma - signifier is not wholly suitable for the concept it represents, but must be used, as the constraints of our language offer nothing better. The premise of deconstruction – as a philosophical and methodological device in constructing the exhibition - has the potential to offer an innovative (self-)definition for Roma by questioning the postulation that all of Western history (literature and philosophy) implicitly relies on a metaphysics of presence2,3, where intrinsic meaning is accessible by virtue of pure presence.4  The exhibition attempts to demonstrate the impossibility of pure presence and consequently of intrinsic meaning, which leads to the conclusion that any given concept is constituted in reciprocal determination, in terms of its oppositions, and it further contends that "(…) we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand" for example, the signified over signifier; intelligible over sensible; speech over writing; activity over passivity, majority over minority, and the Gadzho (Non-Roma) over the Gipsy. The first task of our practice for Roma-deconstruction is to overturn these oppositions revealing their operation in visual encounters, artistic traditions, institutional histories and their produced texts. The principals of deconstruction also impact the exhibition as a genre and institution. The contributors develop a collaborative artistic opening a site of “solidarity, survival and resistance” amid the increasingly frequent outbreaks of xenophobia, racism and ethnic conflicts across Europe.

Guided tour for the exhibition: October 3, 2015. 1 p.m.

The exhibition is on view: October 1 – November 1, 2015.

Curators: Jesper Eng, Timea Junghaus

Supporters: European Roma Cultural Foundation

Image: Daniel Baker: Gipsy strike through, enamel and silver leaf on perspex, 60cm x 20cm, 2015.



1Madan Sarup, An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism p33

2Derrida, Jacques (1973). "Introduction". Speech and Phenomena And Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs. translated with an Introduction by David B. Allison and Preface by Newton Garver (1st ed.). Evanston: Northwestern University Press. pp. 4–5.

3Derrida, Jacques (2005). "Chapter 10: Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" Writing and Difference. translated, with an introduction and additional notes, by Alan Bass (Taylor & Francis e-Library ed.). London: Routledge. p.353.

4 Derrida, Jacques (1981). "Semiology and Grammatology: Interview with Julia Kristeva". Positions. translated and annotated by Alan Bass (1st ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 19. 

"Now, "everyday language" is not innocent or neutral. It is the language of Western metaphysics, and it carries with it not only a considerable number of presuppositions of all types, but also presuppositions inseparable from metaphysics, which, although little attended to, are knotted into a system...”


Gerlesborgsskolan (The Gerlesborg School of Fine Art) is an art institution with a prestigious history of more than 70 years. It is situated both in Bohuslän, between Göteborg and Oslo on the west coast of Sweden, on an attractive site at the seaside. And in Hjorthagen, in the centre of Stockholm. Gerlesborgsskolan has three main activities: Basic university training in fine arts, on-going training for artists and other groups, catering for 600 participants annually, and a wide range of additional activities such as exhibitions, concerts, seminars, open lectures, film screenings and pedagogical workshops for children and youth. In addition the school also provides residential facilities for students and visitors. In all, 30.000 people visits Gerlesborgsskolan in Bohuslän each year. Because of its pedagogic proficiency, its attractive locations and its proximity to the public, the school has a reputation of being at the forefront of art and visual teaching in Scandinavia. Gerlesborgsskolan in Bohuslän rests in a mountainous landscape, typical for the western part of the country. In teaching the emphasis is placed on sketching, painting, drawing, sculpture and graphics and nowadays also in digital visual expressions. In addition the school offers an extensive programme including lectures, exhibitions and concerts all of which contribute to the schools atmosphere of a thriving meeting place of cultural activity.


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