Emilia Rigova

artist in residence June 2018, Slovakia /


My project for the residency at the MuseumsQuartier will deal with the topic of the coercive sterilizations of Romani women in socialist Czechoslovakia and post-socialist succession states. Romani women were in large numbers subjected to sterilization without an informed consent, under a false pretext, or waywardly without their awareness. The directive on sterilizations was abolished by the respective countries in 1993, yet the practice continued for more than a decade. According to the report by the European Roma Rights Centre, entitled Coercive and Cruel, the last registered case of forced sterilization occurred in 2007.
This topic is personally relevant for me, as my mother was subjected to sterilization in 1980 without her awareness and found out about only after 1989 during the regular medical check-up. However, my artistic enunciation does not aim at communicating individual experience of my mother, but of all women in various historical, political and geographical contexts whose have been robbed not only of their bodily integrity but also of their joys and worries… The title of the intended project is also an allusion to final solution and thus related communist practices with eugenics practices of the Nazi regime. This inclusivity makes the project relevant locally, but also universally. As concerns the formal means, I will use historical photographs and documents related to the period in question. Further, I will use picture manipulation and narrative mystification to create personas of my unborn siblings. This project is intended as a contribution to the coming with terms with this painful topic on both personal and societal levels and as a personal imprint into our collective memory.


For quite a long time, I have been dealing in my work with the topic of cultural and social stereotypes and politics of the body. My art projects are based on social research and analyses and express their ideas in visual language. The starting point of every project is an identification of a problem or adverse situation of a minority (be it ethnic, racial or gender/sexual minority). I am interested particularly in minorities who have been systematically eradicated from the hegemonic historical discourses, collective memory and visions of common future (which concerns foremost of Roma worldwide). My visual commentary or statement oftentimes draws on contextual interpretation of the art of western culture and its canonical representations embedded in their specific historical contexts. I regard a substantial part of my work as engaged art. Many projects were interventions or performances in the public space, be it projects with Katarina Boborova, a partner in the performative duo AVO AVO (established by us in 2008) or with the art-activist group Romane Kale Panthera (established by Tamara Moyzes in 2007). The last five years, my work deals with the topic of internal and external construction of Romani identity and the appropriation of the Romani body in the long history of European culture. I deconstruct stereotypical representations used by the majority society. I engage in a dialogue with a viewer on the topic of perception and construction of the Romani identity and challenge his ingrained judgements and views mostly based on their superficial contact with Roma or schematic representations in mainstream culture. Many of my projects addressed the inner tension between the performance of identity in the in-group and out-group setting. The vantage point of my work is an object which I use in (video)installations, performance, or graphics. I approach it as a multi-layered medium which can allows the viewer to read into his/her own ideas and whose perception varies based on the changing context. I push the viewer to re-evaluate their own narratives on a given subject.