How I realized I was Roma,
How I realized I was a Jew

On view: 24th of August- 14th of September in the Massolit Budapest Books and Café

The current arts-based project I am working on, titled “How I realized I was Roma, How I realized I was a Jew,” which deals with the commonalities and differences in concealing, rejecting or embracing Jewish and Roma identity by members of the Third Generation after the Shoah/Porajmos.  This project explores the various coping strategies that post-Shoah/Porajmos generations have employed to grapple with their own family origins.

Between 1980 and 1988, András Kovács, Ferenc Erős and Katalin Lévai, conducted life interviews with Second Generation Hungarian Jews, which served as the basis for their article (“Hogyan jöttem rá, hogy zsidó vagyok”), which appeared in Medvetánc in 1985.  My project borrows its title from their groundbreaking study.

My arts-based research project culminates in an exhibition, an audio and video work and a set of accompanying workshops. The exhibition, titled “How I realized I was Roma, How I realized I was a Jew,” is based on my personal experience of being born in Hungary in the 1980s and only discovering my family origins later in life. I juxtapose others and my own experiences of realization and discovery, probing the ways in which other families at times concealed, rejected or embraced their “hidden” or “tabooed” origins.

Through these experiences and discussions, I will explore the patterns of tabooing and hiding one’s identity, culture, religion and ethnic background, both intentionally and unintentionally.  Through this process, I am asking almost the same questions that Erős, Kovács and Lévai asked in the 1980s. I have tailored the questions to the challenges of the Third Generation, adapting the original questionnaire to both Roma and Jewish perspectives.

By researching the different layers of memory discourses of the Shoah and Porajmos in Hungary, I offer a new perspective on post-Second World War memory through double micro-histories bringing the neglected (and often silenced) voices of the Third Generation to the fore.

Note: I have been planning to do this project for several years, but the real impetus came on February, 10, 2020,  when Ferenc Erős passed away.  I felt that I should have done this project earlier, perhaps even involving Erős, so now this project has also become a tribute to his memory.