Author: Mikko Savolainen

Gypsy life

21 March 2013 | Extracts, Non-fiction

Modern-day cart: teenagers in Kouvola, 1976. Photo: Mikko Savolainen

Romani teenagers, Kouvola, 1976. Photo: Mikko Savolainen

Photographer Mikko Savolainen began taking photos of Finnish Romani life in the 1960s, in the time of transition from nomadism to life in housing estates. New trends in the 1960s and 1970s also brought Romani culture to the fore – singers, musicians, festivals; an act baning racial discrimination had been passed. Savolainen became interested in Gypsy life

The text and the photographs are from Suomen romanit. Romanielämää 1960–1970-luvuilla / The Roma of Finland. Roma life in the 1960s and 1970s (Musta Taide, 2008. English translation: Jüri Kokkonen)

I have visited over a hundred Roma homes. Respect for parents, care of the elderly and hospitality are the first things that come to mind.

I have come across similar consideration for visitors only in cottages in Karelia, where the first question was whether I wanted a cup of coffee or to eat first.

I took my first photographs of Roma people in the Market Square of Hamina as an amateur photographer who only wanted to take good portraits. More…