Usti Nad Labem

I’ve just returned from Usti Nad Labem or Usti apon the Elbe river in the Czech Republic. I arrived without any expectation and just the prospect of seeing two dear friends again.

© Wendy Marijnissen

Immediately I felt very welcome there and charmed by the Eastern-European feel of the town, the friendly people that we met and the overall relaxed mood on the streets.

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

As everywhere around the world fear is present in societies and we were warned very early on to be careful with the Roma community that lives in the area. ‘Watch out with your camera, they will steal it’, etc, etc…

Fear never is a good guide in my eyes and not for a second did I feel threatened while I was there. The same happens in Europe about Islam for instance, like in my country where only recently a woman was fired from her job because she wears a headscarf while serving customers and some of them complained they didn’t like the sight of the veil while they were doing their shopping…

© Wendy Marijnissen

Usti Nad Labem is industrial and not the most beautiful area to live in with lots of empty old buildings and neglected sites… And yet in the middle of this, my friend Maryam was having her exhibition in the ‘Galerie Emila Filly‘. It turned out the town had  a thriving Art and Design University as well.

At the opening of the exhibit lots of Roma people were present as well. Together with the artists ‘Bankleer’ they had made a video installation and were brightening up the party with music. It was amazing! Both the Roma and art community mixed naturally and and had a great time.  And I was reminded of why I love photography so much and why I will try to continue telling the stories I think are worth telling.

© Wendy Marijnissen

 

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