Gypsy boy on New Year’s Eve


New Year’s Eve, St. Jacques, Perpignan, 2006

by Jesco Denzel


“This picture of a five year-old gypsy boy was taken on New Year’s Eve 2006 in the gypsy community of St. Jacques, Perpignan, Southern France. For Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the men would gather in the Café in their best suits to drink and dance while their wives would prepare dinner at home. It is quite common in St. Jacques for little boys to smoke. Gypsy children are taught astonishingly early to be men or women rather than boys or girls – and men smoke, women don’t. St. Jacques, the old medieval neighbourhood right in Perpignan’s city centre, holds one the biggest sedentary gypsy communities in Western Europe – thousands of photojournalists zig-zag through it every summer for the Visa Pour l’Image festival. Contrary to what I first expected, there were not many photo stories about St. Jacques, so I started working there in 2004. It took me a little while to get some people to trust me, and to figure out – a little bit, anyway – how things work in St. Jacques. It went much easier when I came to visit St. Jacques for the second and third time, bringing back piles of photographs, so people could see what I had been doing, and they started to invite me into their homes.”

(from Verve Photo)

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