Women ‘Enemies of
the People’

Date & Location

2021, Bucharest


The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance


The Bucharest Architecture Annual: Prize of the “Interior Space Architecture / Exhibition and Scenography Design” section

As any other totalitarian regime, Communism did not take into account factors such as age, gender, state of health or cultural level of the people it repressed. ‘Enemies of the people’ weren’t only adults, but also children, weren’t only men, but also women. Countrywomen and female aristocrats, intellectual and simple women, older women, teenagers or even girls, pregnant and postnatal women, as well as women with breastfed children were considered to pose a potential threat to the regime.

According to statistics by CISAC of the Sighet Memorial, 5.31% of all individuals detained on political grounds in Communist Romania were women. They were either passed a sentence by a military court, or were simply arrested based on lists issued by the Romanian Ministry of the Interior, having had received so-called ‘administrative sentences’. Thousands of women endured the detention conditions in Communist prisons and camps in Romania. Reasons for their imprisonment varied. Some women were deemed to be a threat to the social order of the Communist state, others suffered through prison as mothers, wives or daughters of men who were detained.


The space dedicated to this exhibition is fatally limited and constrained to entail only several dozen stories of the thousands of tragedies and dramas. Thus the following question arises: is there any scientific method that could perhaps be employed to make a selection of these broken destinies, without doing any injustice to those that remain unknown? That leaves us with the task of making as much of a diverse selection as possible in terms of profession, social status and age, in the hope that visitors will understand that behind every name in the exhibition there are tens or hundreds of similar destinies.

The exhibition is structured in two main parts:
a) 16 case studies (ground floor and semi-basement), presented as light projections on a double-screen (tracing paper and cloth). This screen is put in motion permanently by a draught from a ventilator situated behind the screen. Because of this, the projection goes in and out of focus, giving the impression of constant breathing. The sound gave off by the ventilators accentuates the evocative state of these spaces, simulating the heaviness of detention.
b) Multimedia hall (attic) which contains:
– 54 portraits of women and short descriptions of detention cases;
– 3d infographic representing a multicriterial analysis of detention within the communist Gulag;
– cellular-object containing quotes from memorialist writings of women that had been detained;
– cabinet with objects belonging to detainees;
– reading table;
– media space

Concept: Ana Blandiana, Virginia Ion
Curator: Virginia Ion
Translation: Laura Berceanu
Exhibition design: Zeppelin Design / Cosmina Goagea, Andrei Angelescu, Emanuel Birtea, Justin Baroncea, Ioana Naniș, Cristina Ginara, Radu Manelici, Alex Ivanof, Constantin Goagea 
Print: Green Apple Advertising
Production: Urban Paint
Photo: Andrei Mărgulescu