In the autumn of 2022, I will set up the art exhibition The assimilated (in Swedish De assimilerade) in Knivsta south of Uppsala (SWE) . The exhibition is about finding a hidden history and an exciting heritage among the Traveling People and it will be presented with both music and art that I have created.
From my press release:
The people who disappeared
”I was so scared, I screamed and held you in one foot. When my mother handed you over to that aunt, I shouted: you must not take my sister, you must not take my sister. ” – quotes from the autobiography Tattarungen och hemligheten by Monica Tinglöf.
Below the castle in Uppsala there is a dam, called Svandammen. It became the meeting place where Mrs. Andersson would receive her foster child. My mother. The Child Welfare Board had selected the Andersson family as a suitable foster family and informed my mother’s parents that this was only a temporary solution for a maximum of six months. My mother was eleven months old when she was handed over to Mrs. Andersson at Svandammen in Uppsala wrapped in a blanket.
My mother’s foster care placement remained a secret for thirty-three years and would probably still have been a secret if a cousin of my mother had not resigned. My mother’s worldview collapsed, and I got a new grandmother and grandfather whom the family met on a few occasions in the eighties. The contact was broken with the foster parents and soon also with my mother’s biological parents. We never got any real clarity in what had happened and why my mother had been placed in a foster home.
When I was 39 years old, I got the book ”Eisfeldt – a surreal family” in my hand and suddenly the pieces began to fall into place. During the short time in the 80’s when my mother had had contact with her real parents, it turned out that we come from a circus family. But only now did I understand that we came from the Traveling People, or those who have been called Tattare, Skojare and Tavringar. We had been line dancers, acrobats and artists and toured with circuses all over Europe.
The exhibition The Assimilated starts October 16 and ends November 12 at the Center for Sports and Culture (CIK) in Knivsta. With the exhibition I intend to tell my own and the traveling people’s history with specially written music, soundscapes and with oil paintings. It’s about a dark part of Swedish contemporary history about a vulnerable people who disappeared. Or did they really disappear?
Already in the 16th century, the traveling people were in Sweden. The people have their own culture and language, Swedish Romani. The traveling people have for a long time been exposed to discrimination in Sweden, despite the fact that they lived in the country for several centuries. During the first part of the 20th century, surveys based on racial biology were carried out. The parliamentary poverty alleviation legislation committee stated in 1923 that Roman involvement in the Swedish tribe meant a deterioration of the race. The zeal that existed to keep the Swedish tribe clean resulted in at least one in four traveling households having someone in the household who had been forcibly sterilized. During the second half of the 20th century, the state and municipality focused more on assimilation based on clear prejudices and stereotypes. During the 20th century, the authorities have been very active with measures to assimilate and wipe out the traveling people and the traveling culture. The National Board of Health and Welfare has pushed for inventories, forced sterilizations, and forced care of children. There are probably thousands of children in Sweden today whose parents have been placed in foster homes, or orphanages because of their background as Travelers.
For more information in Swedish and how you may support this project, please visit www.deassimilerade.com
Support the project and the exhibition:
For economic contributions:
Swish: 123 135 61 04