religion, secret police, communism, surveillance
This exhibition explores the legacy of secret police operations against religion through a visual cultural lens. The displays present a difficult kind of cultural patrimony comprised of images shot or stolen by the secret service police in four different countries: Romania, Hungary, The Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Sometimes violent or intrusive, at other times personal or with a documentary quality, secret police visual materials had many uses at the time and today prompt varied interpretations. Images that at the time were used by the secret police as incriminating evidence against religious communities, today also represent the memory, cultural patrimony and creative spirit of these groups and individuals.
As far as possible, we tell the story of secret police operations through the photographs and images we found in the archives. The team of researchers sifted through hundreds of thousands of pages of files in order to find these uncatalogued, hidden visual traces of communities that had been targeted by the state. Today, members of targeted communities rarely know about the secret police archives or how to gain access. For this reason, whenever possible, the researchers approached individuals and communities to discuss their experience of repression and their presence in the archives. This exhibition includes the voices and reflections of members of these communities.