2nd page of 4
But I had more than prejudice to fuel my distrust of people
outside my family. I was in fear that they would take my
mother away just like they had taken my father. You see,
my parents were not only hippies, they were political refugees.
Fed up with seeing their family and friends die in a war
they did not understand, the Vietnam War, my parents spoke out against it, resulting in them getting blacklisted by the US government.
This was in the early ‘70’s, around my birth,
and the result of my parents’ actions meant my first
17 years were spent on the run from the international police,
or Interpol. We traveled constantly. Even after my father
was caught when I was 6, my mother took her three children
and kept running. With different names and different stories,
we would arrive at a new place in the hopes of settling
down just to realize Interpol had caught sight of our whereabouts
and that we had to pick up and go in the dead of night.
Granada, Spain, 1997
It was only when my mother turned herself in that they finally
stopped chasing us. She was the longest standing fugitive
in the history of the United States. After a long court
battle where her layer proved that she was giving birth
to her now 17-year-old son (me) when the bombings happened
she was acquitted of all charges.
We were now free to settle
for long as we liked. I no longer had to fear loosing my
mother. I could tell people my real name. It was not that
This kind of childhood is not forgotten. 17 years of fear
had instilled in me a deep mistrust of authority and mainstream
attitudes. While young and still under the wing of my family
I was not bothered by this, since I enjoyed the community
I belonged to and knew no better. But once the urgency of
being on the run was lifted, I realized how alienated I
This is when I started photographing Roma. I think for me
the Roma were a safe transition point in my journey from
youth to manhood. They were sufficiently similar to me in
their sense of community and isolation from the mainstream,
allowing me a sense of security, yet they were also different
enough to make me feel like I was breaking away and finding
my own ways in the world.
But more importantly, spending
time with the Roma helped alleviate my sense of alienation
from the world at large. Here was a group different from
mine, yet I found I could connect nonetheless. I even found
that the differences were not so important; that they too
were just as personable and human as the people I had grown
up with. It was the confirmation I needed to begin narrowing
the divide I had always felt between the mainstream and
myself. But all this is in hindsight.
The way I started photographing Roma was much more an act
of fate than any conscious decision on my part. I was 18
and staying with a group of childhood friends on the Mediterranean
island of Ibiza, Spain, in a house we had rented for the
summer. None of us worked a steady job. Some did gardening
or construction, others peddled clothes at the market, others
sold drugs. We spent most of our days partying. Ibiza is
the island of parties.
We stayed up until dawn, slept, and
lazed around on the beach. This was the lifestyle of our
parents and we had inherited it. Originally, it was based
on a political statement, a rebuttal of oppressive religion,
corrupt government, and consumerism, but we didn’t
pay too much attention to that. We were too busy having
fun. We saw this as a political statement in itself.
Yet I became restless. The parties and lazing about began
to bore me. I started to keep different hours. When my friends
came home from their nights out, the sun slowly turning
the dark skies pale blue, I would wake up and go out to
explore the island.