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Children of Maticni
by Gulbin Ozdamar Akarcay

Joana Alarcão

Children of Maticni is a photography collection by Gulbin Ozdamar Akarcay, who In 2006-2007 when living in the Czech Republic was confronted with “the racism and discrimination” found there. Akarcay started the project to highlight the Romany minority “who are stigmatized as `gypsies` by the dominant majority in the district of Maticni-Usti Nad Labem in Prague.”

Gulbin Ozdamar Akarcay, received B.A., M.Sc., and PhD in Journalism from Anadolu University in Turkey. Her B.A. graduation project titled “Faces of Prisoners” was exhibited in IFSAK İstanbul Photography Days in 2002. He worked a year in Anadolu Agency in 2002. She studied in The Academy of Performing Arts, Film and TV School (FAMU), Department of Still Photography in Prague for a year in 2006.

She was one of the curators of Intimate Revolt exhibition, which was funded with a grant from FAMU, the Cultural Ministry of Lithuania and Czech Republic in 2007-2008. This exhibition took place in Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Turkey consisting of 10 photographers from 10 countries. She opened “Faces of Prisoners”, “Narodni Divadlo”, “Children of Maticni” as her personal exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions “66-II”, “Spirit of Prague”, “Six Czech School Photography”,” History of Photography Is History of Miserableness”, “Living Woman Self-Portrait”, “It Seems as If Anything I Feel”. She was the producer of “Merter Oral’ın Ardından”. She was selected World Press Photo (WPPH) Seminar organized in Turkey in 2002-2004. Her photo-story “Children of Maticni” was published in WPPH Magazine and at the book titled Photojournale Connections Across a Human Planet.

She established Living Woman Photography Group, which advocates for women and children who are victims of violence. The group has made projects opened exhibition and presented the photograps between 2011-2022. She opened exhibition is titled “My Self-reflexive Diary: The Balkans” in Toronto Contact Photography Festival 2017. She participated Seeing Across Disciplines, the IVLA 2021 Virtual Art exhibition in 2021 and have taken part in many national and international exhibitions between 2018-2022. She published articles in some edited books, journals, and magazines (2001-2022). She held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Centre for Ethnography at University of Toronto Scarborough in 2016-2017.

See more of Akarcay's work here.

Prague, Czech Republic, 2006-2007

I spent time photographing Romany people when I was living in the Czech Republic in 2006-2007 and revealed what is “the racism and discrimination” I found there. I started a project to highlight the Romany minority “who are stigmatized as `gypsies` by the dominant majority in the district of Maticni-Usti Nad Labem in Prague.”  Maticni is seen as a ‘gypsy` district and the local government built a wall there in 1998 to separate the Romany and Czech peoples. The reason given was to prevent environmental pollution caused by garbage left by the gypsies. But the main reason was the prejudice and the negative image that the natives had about `gypsies’. So the wall was constructed in order to isolate the Romany minority in Maticni. The wall is broken down in 1999 thanks to public reaction in Czech Republic. All social conditions affect “gypsy” children. There is a social organization, which organizes some activities for `gypsy’ children, but it is not enough.  Some cannot even go to ordinary school. Mostly they go to special training schools apart from Czech children. On the other hand, it was commonplace that Romany parents didn’t make a special effort to support their children. 

Know more about the artist and her work on the interview Gulbin had with us recently.

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