The project "Chelen Amenca/ Dance with Us" proposed to develop a real interaction with a community with traditional Roma via a creative exchange. The organizers developed three projects for the different age groups: a mapping project for the children, a textile and text project for the teenagers, and an oral history workshop with the mothers based on traditional Cortorari customs for women. In response to these interactions, the two invited artists, made work and presented it in 2012 at the Contemporary Gallery of the Brukenthal National Museum in Sibiu, Romania. At this exhibition members of the Clopotar family participated as well as the regular members of the Brukenthal Contemporary Gallery community.
The aim was to "suspend" or modify the stereotypical perceptions of a traditional Romanian Roma community. The physical outcome of the project consists so far of the works the participants have produced and which have been shown in other venues after the exhibition "Chelen Amenca/ Dance with Us" at the Contemporary Gallery of the Brukenthal National Museum in Sibiu, Romania, as well of lectures and presentations the organizers have been presenting in academic settings in The United States as well as in Romania. Another, more subtle outcome, is the organizer's ongoing connection with the Clopotar family, who has hosted them and with whom they have worked with during the project.
The interactions the organizers have been having with the Clopotar extended family over a period of two years now had as starting points creative workshops they offered during their stay in their village in 2012, which allowed the development of a goal oriented relationship with almost all groups within the family. The project had thus two components: one of community art exchanges and one of preparing an exhibition with works inspired by those exchanges.
The Roma have been oppressed and discriminated against for many centuries and the 20th century offered only an increased "momentum" of that persecution: The Roma Holocaust in which hundreds of thousand Roma have lost their lives, suffered deportation, hunger and humiliation. Their unjust status within minority culture is still present in todays politics and media across Europe.
Ellen Rothenberg and Delia Popa