ROMA FUTURISM

ROMA FUTURISM MANIFESTO
by Mihaela Drăgan

This manifesto initially appeared in print issue 2 of CUTRA feminist magazine (november 2019) and on www.cutra.ro

The concept of Roma Futurism is developed by actress and playwright Mihaela Drăgan in 2018, during her residence at Para Site art center in Hong Kong. That is where she sets the tone for a new artistic movement - Roma Futurism. "Roma Futurism reclaims the figure of the Roma witch, so stereotyped in our collective imaginary, and witchcraft becomes our political response to the social inequalities and the injustices of the world we live in." (Mihaela Drăgan)

(a spell that is said out loud during all phases of the moon and in every art favorable day)

Roma Futurism(1) is an artistic movement that creates the interaction between Roma culture and technology and witchcraft. It combines science fiction elements, the history of Roma people, fantasy, Roma subjectivity(2), magical realism, creative technology with magical practices and healing rituals.

Roma Futurism intends on reevaluating the history of the Roma from a perspective that incorporates the healing of pain and transgenerational suffering genetically transferred to the Roma by their ancestors, victims of slavery and the Holocaust.

Roma Futurism is radical practice that creates performative healing rituals with the purpose of reaching the next level, the level in which we are able to imagine a future where we stop the historical cycle of oppression against us.

Roma Futurism examines the unsureness of the future for Roma in a racist Europe — unsureness which contains the constant pressure of reminding ourselves of unknown and unrecognized history.

The oppressive past and the present that perpetuates racism define a big part of our Roma identity but now it is the time to talk about the ultra-technologic future and the place of the Roma in it.

We feel limited as artists by the pain of the past and the unfavorable present which puts pressure on us to make art about the discrimination against the Roma.

In time I have found that very few gadje(3) are willing to understand the message of anti racist art. Art is not activism, and who thinks art can save us from racism is either naive or an impostor.

In Roma Futurism the history of oppression reaches an apocalyptic moment and a new era settles in, defined by techno-witchcraft(4) , The Romacen(5).

Roma Futurism foretells the Era of the Romacene where the Roma witches control technology and own the future of humanity.

Foto: Volker Vornehm

Roma Futurism is an artistic approach that ironically addresses the need for ,,integrating the Roma in Europe,, and ,,align them to the the present,,.

To those who trap us in the ,,past century,, and see us as,,traditional,, or ,,primitive,, , we want to let them know that the future belongs to the Roma witches who have already started the war against racism and capitalism.

To those who think that we are not able to use the new technologies or those who think that we are cut off from science, we inform them that we have always been the ones who invented the crafts that made our life easier. We were blacksmiths, kettle makers and cobblers; we knew how to process gold and we called ourselves goldsmiths, we trained bears and we were bear leaders. We made spoons and pots that lasted for generations and no one quite knew how to make them like we did. But then IKEA and other big corporations came to make them, offering low quality imitations of our craft, stealing our craft and leaving our people jobless. This is the reason why witches will always despise capitalism.

We would have made a new Roma craft out of technology if the Gadjes hadn’t blocked our access, leaving us in precarity.

As we were the only ones who owned the secret to all crafts, in Roma Futurism it is only us who are able to use the technowitchcraft — the science through which we create advanced technology by the rules of witchcraft.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic — said Sir Arthur C. Clarke, scientist and science fiction writer— I have to cite him because if a Roma woman were to say the same thing, she wouldn’t be taken seriously. Our Roma witches whose magical practices are ridiculed and demonized and their work is dismissed are never taken into serious. But when white feminists identify themselves as witches from a position of privilege, making art about witchcraft, they do it without the voice of the real practitioners, putting them in an even more marginal position.

Roma futurism will not forget about the history of witch hunters and how the Church burned the witches alive. In Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici shows us how capitalism evolved from the oppression of the working class and the subjugation of women. The burnings of witches was intended to terrify women and make them accept a new patriarchal order in which their bodies, work, sexual and reproductive rights were now owned and controlled by the state and were therefore transformed into economic resources.

In Roma futurism, we are the witches born from the ashes of our burnt sisters.

The Roma witch represents a current figure in the Eastern Europe — a place where, even though there haven't been witch hunters, their demonization always existed.

We call on supernatural forces because this world has left us without any other protection. We are not afraid to use black magic, because it is the only shield we have in a society that encourages hatred against us. To those who criticise our "radical ways", which are nothing more than a common-sense response to the violence we live, we say you do not have the right to give us advice until you experience the same aggression we are subjected to!

The Roma witch represents a current figure in the Eastern Europe — a place where, even though there haven't been witch hunters, their demonization always existed.

The Roma witch is portrayed in a stereotypical way as a woman lacking an education, stuck in a past that is incompatible with a present dominated by science, someone who doesn’t know how to use technology and does not wish to understand technology.

The label "witch" is one of the main stigmatizing stereotypes of Roma women and it is Roma Futurisms mission to destigmatize Roma witches and vindicate their image.

Foto: Volker Vornehm

In contrast to the stereotypical vision, Roma futurism vindicates the figure of the Roma woman and proposes a new perspective in which witches are the symbol of a progressive, ultra-technological future.

We have examples of witches such as Mihaela Mincă and her daughters Casandra, Anda and Ana, that use the power of the Internet to send spells and digitally undo curses for their clients overseas. At the same time, they are not afraid to take control of Europe's political problems and perform rituals and curses against politicians that threaten our future. They are the guardians and protectors of our future, and Roma Futurism recognizes their power and knowledge.

Roma Futurism salutes and admires witches capacity to incorporate their magical practices in a radical anticapitalist and feminist perspective, as they demonstrated at the „Roma Futurism: The Age of the Witch” conference, that I co-organized in Bucharest at CINETic - International Center for Research and Education in Innovative Creative Technologies.

As the Super robot is the symbol of the Afrofuturism and the A.I represents Sinofuturism, in Roma Futurism, the Techno witch or Cyber witch is the main figure.

Roma Futurism creates characters like the Cyber witches, who fight against Roma oppression and also hold the super power to transcend time and to intervene in the oppressive past of their own Roma community with the goal to change it. They are placed in specific moments in the past with the purpose of creating alternative histories.

They will offer a performative answer to the question: If this oppressive past had never existed how would Roma communities have evolved?

Roma Futurism begins in the village of Macondo, the setting of Garcia Marquez’s magical realism novel, One hundred years of solitude where we find the Roma character, Melquiades and his caravan, who brings new inventions and progress in the village.

Roma Futurism creates a sequel to the production of scientific knowledge held by Melquiades and the thousands of other nomadic caravans, picturing an utopic future in which a group of Roma women who are alchemists and witches control technology and have the power to go back in time to change certain historical events, like slavery and the Holocaust.

In Roma Futurism, the Roma caravan works like a time machine which transports the future inventions and ,,sells,, progress to the society. It accelerates globally but it is alert to the dangers of speed: ecological damages or the economic exploitation of large corporations, whose use of communication, transport and information processing technologies has accelerated the climate crisis on the planet.

In Roma futurism, technology blends with magic and is used by Cyber Witches in order to create an egalitarian and democratic world.

Techno witchcraft is a modern form of witchcraft that applies the use of technology. It is a term under the umbrella of different practices and beliefs in witchcraft regarding technology. It focuses on the magical side of technology, considering that ultra-advanced technology can be invented and developed using witchcraft and alchemy. It may include the belief that technological items are inhabited by spirits.

One of the beliefs constitutes that even the internet itself is a strong and independent spirit.

Technology is reflected in the use of modern devices in magic rituals or the replacement of technology with traditional magic instruments — the use of a phone camera to purify someone of evil or destroy one’s health by sending computer viruses.

Foto: Volker Vornehm

Techno witchcraft also refers to the live transmissions of rituals and spells through the internet, to virtual tarot and to healing through technological tools.

Roma futurism also includes shamanelism rituals (rituals which make the use of manele to create a gypspiritual experience through music and dance) and digital psychedelic feelings (the fusion between biologic and technologic with the purpose of self- knowledge and personal development).

Roma futurism supports the human machine interface for an ethical relationship with technology and hyper realistic robots equipped with complex human programs, such as empathy or political principles based on social justice.

In Roma futurism, computers develop human consciousness. As machines became more and more humanized, people lost basic values of humanity and Roma futurism aims to recover this imbalance by assimilating the use of technology by humans. The new robots will be called witchbots and they will practice magic and therefore try to release us from the grip of an unjust world

Positioned against right wing political systems and dictatorship all over the world, Roma futurism brings in techno curse like this one:

May you [insert here te name of the person, for example: Trump, Salvini, Orban, etc.] become poor for your rest of your life !

Might our Trojan-Banker grants that we devour all your money!
The Spirit of the Internet grants that I break your neck, your arms,
your legs, your dirty mouth so that I may not hear again your hate speech against us!
Our Cyber Sisterhood grants that you spend your sweet money for the coffin and pall
And that you prepare a funeral feast
So that I get peace for myself and my people!
Your flesh melts piece by piece, your bones fall one by one, may you suffocate in your “civilized” blood, may you be infected by thousands computer viruses.
May your mind remain forever in a non-technological darkness, in the black hole of the computing crushing.
We will stop your malefic plans against us, and gain access to your data.
We will delete your intentions, we will block your racist attitudes and disrupt your fascist actions!
May you be abandoned in deserts where the electrified dust of cybernetic chaos coils in directions of random destination in devastating electromagnetic storms against you!

May you [insert name] be annihilated by our post-human future where is no place for oppressors like you!
Our techno-mystical knowledge will make us the leaders of this world!
We are the Cyberwitches FROM THE FUTURE, Flushed out of time
We are the first representatives of this new generation.
We will destroy everything you care about
And build up a new world
Leaded by us Cyber Witches.
We are the symbol of a new era that will be called Rromacene.
You Gadje had your chance.
You couldn’t fail more.
You messed up the whole planet with your fucking Capitalocene, stupid white men!

But we were watching you for centuries! You didn’t even notice.
Now we know everything about you whereas you don’t know anything about us.
We studied your weaknesses.
And now we are going to fight you with your own arms.
THIS TIME IT’S OUR TURN!
Didn’t you realize that you have prepared the end of the world as you knew it?
But don’t worry! You won’t rule anymore!
BECAUSE THE FUTURE IS OURS!
THE FUTURE IS OURS!
THE FUTURE IS OURS!

(1) Concept developed by the author in 2018, during her residence at Para Site art center in Hong Kong.
(2)Roma responses and reactions to the global attitudes against Roma persons. It it the Roma perspective on Gadje culture and history and one of its purposes is to correct prejudices and racist ideas perpetuated by Gadje intelectuals about Roma culture.
(3)Non-Roma.
(4) Fusion between magic and technology.
(5)Geological era dominated by the actions of the Roma techno-witches that, among others, fight against the climate crisis produces by the Anthropocene.
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