Another day, another example of how photography can be used to misrepresent Roma – even if its original intention was to overturn stereotypes.
Carlo Gianferro‘s fantastic series Gypsy Interiors – portraits of wealthy Romanian and Moldovan Roma in their homesâ€“ is more than three years old now: it won a World Press Photo award in 2009. But today for no apparent reason the Daily Mail website (for it is they) ran the work with a short, sneering article on how he had “lifted the lid” on this “notoriously secretive race’s” “opulent”, “gaudy” “mini-palaces”.
I really like Gianferro’s work and own this book. His aim was to show a different face of Roma from the usual poverty/begging/unauthorised camps type images. I feel sorry that his photographs have inadvertently been twisted by the Mail to reinforce the message and stereotypes that they are constantly putting out through their pages – that Roma migrants in the UK are begging, selling the Big Issue and/or claiming benefits here in order to fund this kind of “opulent, gaudy” lifestyle.
This piece about his photos is a not-so-subtle nod back to classic and oft-repeated Daily Fail stories such as this and this. It is infuriating, but not surprising given this paper’s obsession with Gypsies, Travellers and Roma, who are continually held up either as villains, halfwits or objects of ridicule. Or all three simultaneously, as with a piece like this one….the reader comments under these stories are never pleasant or enlightened.
For once it seems the photos have been acquired by the Mail legitimately, albeit they are being used in a way I suspect the photographer would not be pleased about.
It’s interesting to see how subtle changes have been made to the story through the day, softening the tone of the original piece somewhat in some cases.
Like this morning, the URL slug was “Welcome-big-fat-gypsy-house-Romas-private-world-revealed-time-series-stunning-pictures.html” Â yet now it is simply “Private-world-Roma-revealed-time-series-stunning-pictures.html”
Then the headline went from this:
And one particularly offensive caption was changed from this (bottom):
It shows that even well-intentioned and ethical documentary photography is at risk of being misappropriated and turned on its head by biased newspapers with an agenda…although one newspaper has particular form when it comes to this kind of thing.
UPDATE 14/06/12: The page has now been removed at the request of the photographer.