The Art of Getting By

Petra Valenti & Yosephine Melfi

“Both, Yosephine and me, have always been fascinated by the Rom culture.” (Petra Valenti)

Photographer Petra Valenti and stylist Yosephine Melfi linked with a group of Roma women from Romania who were travelling Europe and camped in a very basic settlement in the city’s outskirts for their touchdown in Milan, Italy. They had little to nothing and were just fine; they slept below a large flyover connecting the motorway to the city on a soft surface made by layers of blankets, they showered with plastic bottles and also hair dyeing wasn’t an issue.

The fact, that they travel alone — no man, just female material — really triggered the two artists. They quickly bonded and were genuinely curious about their way of living. The “Roma topic” has always been controversial in Europe and is associated with negative stereotypes. Their intention is to show a softer, kinder angle that could help to build some interest in their history and traditions. Spanish was the only common language — the travelling women learnt it through a tv series. Both groups from different cultures connected — they talked, they ate together, they danced to manele.

What the photographer and the stylist liked the most about the travellers, is the way they take whatever life gives them and deal with it. Just adapting to life’s difficulties and always finding a way around, even when you have so little. The art of getting by!

The nomads also happened to be vrajitoare (romani for witch). They read tarots and cast spells. Daria is a fulltime white magic witch and asked to put her phone number next to her picture. If you are in need of some healing or love spells, feel free to call 0040724303490.