Dialogue with Carmen, 2012, Lidija Mirković/Dragan Vildovic © haymat film
Installation, consisting of 10 photographs (2 Light Boxes 100x70 cm, 7 C-Prints 45x30 cm,
1 C-Print 100x70 cm)
Within the photo series Dialogue with Carmen, Dragan Vildovic and Lidija Mirković are
working with one of the oldest stereotypes concerning Roma people: the picture of Carmen.
Most of the photos were shot while both were living in Belleville, one of the biggest Roma slums
in Belgrade. In order to find out more about ›typical gypsies‹, the slum inhabitants and garbage
collectors, while exposing the clichés about the Roma community propagated by society and
the media, they spent nine months living there. In this series, they applied the stereotype of the
fiery gypsy woman to the women in Belleville.
The portrait of Lidija Mirković is referring to the discussion about the presentation of a Roma
kid in Weltwoche, a newspaper in Switzerland. In her work, Lidija Mirković – who explicitly refers
to herself as a gypsy woman – makes her desire clear: to regain the sovereignty of interpreting
her own culture.
CARMEN by Li dija Mirkovic
Such like Shakespeare’s Shylock became an object of anti-Semitic projection during the centuries,
the world’s most played opera CARMEN provides a lot of opportunities for imagination of
antiziganism and formes notion on Gypsies since its creation.
In fictional movies the directors deal with the subject ›Carmen‹ since 1907. There are at least 30
Carmen film versions by directors such as Cecil B. DeMille, Charlie Chaplin, Ernst Lubitsch,
Otto Preminger, Jean-Luc Goddard and Carlos Saura.
Both the version of Mérimée and the opera of Bizet provide many chances for interpretation
of the matter due to their symbolic and mythic levels of this subject. But in the always possible
version the content flattens out to a stereotype, which allows for tawdry exotism, in production
of opera, in fictional movies and in arts.
The ability of serial production in conjunction with the industrialization evolved ›department
store‹ arts which are bound to prettify the middle-class living rooms. This consumer pictures
– produced in commercial process for the great mass – are directed to forming collective notion.
Often you can observe in this tawdry illustrations the sup-posedly lifeworld of gypsies, while prejudices and romantic projections of the mainstream society are portrayed.
Effusive image subjects are the favourites like ›covered cart at the camp fire‹, the
violinist, the dancing girl, the fortune teller and of course Carmen.
Carmen is a widespread image subject: the black haired gypsy woman with large ear rings, low neckline and a promising look – the opposite of the subdued hose wife. This illustration of the gypsy women is the ›mostly imprinting Imago of the European culture and literature‹, stated Almut Hill in her book on the gypsy woman in the German-language literature. In the middle-class version Carmen is the unsubdued, freedom-loving woman who flirts with the men selfconfidently and self-determined, a femme fatale who personified the everlasting femaleness. A sensual, wild creature of nature.
Considering the social class the gypsies belonging to predominantly all existing
myths are disenchanted, even the one of ›Carmen‹ as eternal seductress. On this
reading the figure ›Carmen‹ can be interpreted as prostitute already at Bizet,
which comes closer to the social reality of the gypsy women today as well as
during Bizet‘s lifetime.