ABOUT THE ARTWORK: Vrăjitoare – witches, fortune tellers, healers... Many Romanian Roma women identify themselves with such descriptions. In the past fortunetelling had a strong tradition within many travelling Roma groups wandering across the European area. Me, and an ethnologist, Ivana Šusterová, have decided to make a fusion between photographic work and an ethnological study. For over four years, they have been researching the world of Romanian Roma women who professionally practice fortune telling and witchcraft. In recent years, the popularity of their services is again on the upsurge and the topic is widely discussed, at home and in the media as well as being mentioned in police reports. We have combined our work in a book comprising sets of photos and essays to increase awareness of Roma culture in general public. In my photographic collection I try to record the consequences of globalization, which has inherently transformed this profession, which in itself balances on the thin divide between mysticism and showmanship for the client. Today these women no longer walk the streets in search of suitable palms from which to tell their owner´s future, but the clients themselves seek them out on the basis of advertisement in the media or on social networks, subsequently visiting them in their splendid houses. Instead of palm reading or fortune telling from tea leaves, it is now sufficient to know your name, date of birth and perhaps an on-line chat on the social network. The profession has been transformed into a business, inherited across generations. Nine year old girls are already starting their promotional “vrajitoare” proﬁles on the Facebook. Dolls are at one moment their toy, yet at any time they can transform themselves into a magical artifact with the ability to regain a client´s lost love.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Lucia Sekerková Bláhová (*1991 Slovakia) studied Advertising photography at Faculty of Multimedia Communications of Tomas Bata University in Zlin in the Czech Republic. During her studies, she has been documenting the life of Wallachian Roma women in Romania. Together with an ethnologist Ivana Šusterová, they combined their work in a book “Women selling hope” (PositiF, 2017) which includes both their photos and essays. The book was displayed in Benaki Museum during the Athens Photo Festival in Greece and at the festival Les Rencontres de la photographie in Arles in France. The project Vrăjitoare was shortlisted for the New East Photo Prize 2018 also for others, such as Portraits - Hellerau Photography Award, Photo Diploma Award, PHmuseum 2019 Women Photographers Grant, Gomma Photography Grant 2019. She was announced as the winner of Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Award 2018 and as the Personality of Czech Photography in the category up to 30 years.