The initial idea had nothing to do with remembering the holocaust (known as Porajmos - devouring, in the Romani language). I had become unofficial family photographer to my Romanian Roma friends in Longsight (by simple virtue of having a digital camera). Apart from regular family tableaus, all the women wanted at least one portrait of themselves with their hair down.
I don't know why yet, but Roma women- or at least those in familia mea, never seem to cut their hair. Traditionally it is kept incredibly long and thick, but is usually tied away in knots at the back of their neck and then hidden under headscarves when they go out of the house.
I made the link when I remembered hearing of the exhibit at Auschwitz where all the hair of the prisoners is on display. I also remember seeing in books the mug-shots of Jewish, Roma, Polish and Communist prisoners- most of them in their striped prison overalls and heads shaven.
The images I produced with them became a defiant testament in contrast - not simply to the mug shots made by Nazis, but of all European government's obsession with identifying, classifying and documenting the Roma population.
I started out just taking pictures of the women's hair, intending to find something to do with it later. But after the first photo of Elena (shown above) came out, I decided that was all I was trying to do.
Photography has never been a medium I'm especially good with, and by no means one of my favourites. And though I think someone else might have been able to pull off the idea a lot better, this was still a story that really only I could tell and I was impressed with the results.