joi, 17 decembrie 2009

University Square (USQ) – memorial place?

Postez mai jos filmul în varianta integrală - cinci părţi.

Au trecut douăzeci de ani de la evenimentele din Piaţa Universităţii.

Filmul reprezintă contribuţia noastră în memoria acelor evenimente și a persoanelor care au luptat pentru democraţie.

Le mulţumim celor care au participat la filmări, dezbateri, proiecţii.

* * * Subt. Engl. * * *

Place of memory. University Square, Bucharest, Romania


University Square in Bucharest (USQ) represents for the entire Romanian people – „KM 0 of democracy”. In this square, the citizens overturned the communist dictatorial regime. Here ended a history of terror and fear for every citizen of this country. In USQ commenced a new path to democracy. Also from this place, both the values of democracy, and the national ones, have been defended whenever they were in jeopardy. After the Revolution of December 1989, the miners of Jiu Valley came to Bucharest, armed with sticks and shovels, to scatter the protesters craving for a new way towards democracy. After they were beaten, the country, which had started “with the wind in its sails” towards democracy, started falling back again. The number of victims is yet unknown. Almost 20 years after the events, also here, Romania’s accession to the EU was celebrated. Again in USQ gather soccer fans, protesters of any nature or students after exams. The square is a place with positive, but also negative, symbols and for this reason the politicians avoid giving speeches here. The local authorities do nothing to build a museum in this place; even more, they tried to wipe out all traces of the past.


The research started from the question – how can USQ influence the past – present and, therefore, future? And what is left, at this moment, from that square symbolism?

I initiated a qualitative type research following which I executed a motion picture and several debates. The research period was July 1st, 2008 – March 1st, 2009. The study was structured in two major parts:

1. I executed a motion picture[1], 52 min. long, which contains interviews with subjects present in USQ, as well as analysis and comments of certain specialists in different fields.

2. After execution, the movie was projected within several public debates were more than 500 subjects attended. The debates were registered, and then the data were analyzed and included in the final study. As a consequence, the movie became a research instrument; more precisely – after the projection of the documentary, the debates were on the key concepts of the research.

By means of the motion picture executed during the research, I tried to take a photograph of the present, of the „reality” of this space. Many times, people see in television how politicians argue over the Square. I saw a lot of meetings and protests in the square, I heard Steaua supporters enjoy a game all night at University, or students sitting around the fountain and reading a book.... however, out of all these images, some are themselves „memorial places” – the image of the Revolution and the image in which the miners come and beat the intellectuals. Precisely for this reason I avoided to put these images in the movie because they have always been present in the memory of those interviewed in the movie or of the subjects who saw the documentary.

Kilometer 0 – communism free zone – the parking of the uniqueness and centrality of the Square on the city’s symbolic map

The first monument of this kind was destroyed immediately after the coming of the miners in June ‘90. The one erected today in the Square is a recent one, after 1998. On the marker it is written with large and black characters: „ROMANIA, KM 0, BUCHAREST, University Square, LIBERTY, DEMOCRACY, NEO-COMMUNISM-FREE AREA”. These words are, in a way, the key words for describing the events of 1989. On the base, it is painted the national flag of Romania, with the seal cut out, a very strong visual symbol for collective memory.

This is the place of protest. It has been created and it is strongly tied to the idea of dissent. Obviously, Timisoara has its symbolic places, but what had ensued in Bucharest made of these events a national cause. I do believe that for the people this is the place of freedom. Actually “kilometer 0 of freedom” is another name of this place. This idea went very well into the minds of people and it has been perpetuated as a legacy even to those who didn’t take part in the events and denigrated them at that time. This is the place where you can talk freely about your grievances. Furthermore, there is the place where it is relatively foreseeable that someone will acknowledge you...” (M. Miroiu, movie interview).

From the perspective of the discourse that eliminates the sacred element, the same territory is described as „waste land" or „rag-fair", as „a kind of fortified town of Mecca" where space is physically and spiritually destroyed through profane manifestations: „The listeners sitting down continue to eat pumpkin seeds and to sit on the road, like during a picnic. In fact, they even have flowers around, even if they stepped over them when, in the middle of the flower-bed, installed their sign..." (Adevărul, 24.04).

After the army and the „terrorists” fired on the demonstrants, large groups of people came to the square and brought with them: candles, coins and newspaper articles in which there were described the events occurred in the dreadful day over numerous traces of blood, coagulated, remained after the terrible night of December 21st, 1989 – symbol of the sacrifice of the youngsters. The number of victims is not known accurately; some sources speak of more than 1000 dead and other several thousand injured.

3. 1990 – protests in University Square

Year 1990 marks the beginning of democracy development; the period is seen as a childhood of democracy[2]. The revolutionary potential of the inhabitants of Bucharest is extremely high; the taste of rediscovering, of the freedom to protest, is achieved by reacting to the pushes of the authorities of the new power in the Square and, also, of President Ion Iliescu. University Square has hosted many large successive manifestations between January-June 1990. Most times, traffic was blocked in this area by the new manifestations of students and old revolutionaries of December 22nd. Here, the “city of freedom” was born, out of several tents placed in front of the National Theatre.

Every day there were meetings; speeches of the new voices of civil society were heard.

I remember very well the balcony of the University. Precisely, the balcony from the Faculty of Geology. From that place persons that slowly become public figures took the floor. It is the place that gave naissance to the first public persons of Romania. And the last picture had been taken at the corner of the Faculty of Architecture. The analogy between Tien An Men and the University Square is not singular. In fact, from December 21st onwards, the University Square was a place of systematic repression. Unfortunately. The meaning of Tien an Men was very important for us. Tien An Men is the cruelty against students, against the willing of change and against the spirit of this student revolt. We shouldn’t forget that we missed the European May ‘68. Somehow, we have combined the anti-communist revolution with the spirit of May ’68 representing the marginal revolts of young people” (M. Miroiu, movie interview).

The miners’ actions (in original, Mineriadele)[3]: June 13th-15th, the miners come to Bucharest; destroy the „City of Freedom”, cruelly beat the demonstrants, destroy the tents where they were staying and plant flowers on those spots. The President of the time, Ion Iliescu, thanks them upon their leaving, for the „ civic spirit they showed”. The number of victims rises to more than 700.

The local authorities do nothing to build a museum in this place; even more, they tried to wipe out all traces of the past.


Researching this past-present phenomenon is very difficult and sometimes unrealizable for several reasons. Firstly, each subject has a personal, individual story and has nothing in common with the others, except for certain major elements – such as the events we have already spoken about. Everyone remembers something else; each subject speaks differently about that common point. Each subject has a are o longer or shorter story, depending on other uncontrollable variables and depending on time and space he will tell you the same story with another ending - memory is always a current phenomenon, a living link of the eternal present; history, a representation of the past (Nora, 1984; p. XIX).

To research memory or oblivion, nostalgia or the myths of the past or present period, one needs more than an anthropological research. But in order to find km 0 of these phenomena such as memory, oblivion, the past, the present, one requires a series of testimonies, several subjective realities, and if these subjective realities overlap at any given point – one can find an objective reality – but, unfortunately or fortunately, this objective reality is merely a photograph at moment x, made with camera y, in place z. The place is what interests us – and exactly how did the subjects relate to it, what they remember about it and the phenomena that occurred there. That place has a continuous significance – as long as the subjects assign it that significance. The University Square, as shown in this paper, has several meanings, but one is common in all interviews – km 0...

* * *

Am publicat în revista Sfera Politicii o primă analiză în urma cercetării de teren despre Piaţa Universităţii. vezi revista nr. 139: textul în engleză este o parte din acest articol.

[1] The terrain work was performed in collaboration with Mirel Bănică, PhD, prior research and the analysis at hand is individual work;

[2] Analysis of the debates around the motion picture.


Iunie 2010

Revista 22

Memoria Pieţei Universităţii

Mirel Banica & Valeriu Antonovici Dosar

Piaţa Universităţii este un loc de memorie complet neglijat de autorităţi. Ea marchează naufragiul memoriei colective româneşti.

Noiembrie 2008. Împrumutăm pentru un week-end o cameră beta de la o televiziune comercială. Ideea este una simplă – realizarea unui film documentar despre Piaţa Universităţii din România, locul memorial prin excelenţă al României democratice.

Entuziaşti şi decişi să „sondăm insondabilul“, filmăm timp de trei zile în Piaţa Universităţii. Întrebările noastre, deschise, aveau ca subiect ceea ce s-a întâmplat în decembrie 1989, precum şi primăvara tulbure a democraţiei româneşti din 1990. Am întâlnit trei tipuri de oameni în Piaţă, de vârste şi ocupaţii diferite. Trei categorii pot fi reţinute. Prima dintre ele este compusă din cei care ştiu ce s-a întâmplat de-a lungul vremii în Piaţa Universităţii, cunosc caracterul său sensibil pentru istoria recentă a României şi pot chiar să o încadreze în contextul global al schimbării de regim istoric.

O altă categorie era formată din indivizi care posedau un fel de vulgata memorială, în care evenimentele erau confundate între ele (minerii cu Ceauşescu, Iliescu cu comunismul, armata cu poliţia şi fosta Securitate). O confuzie generală, sudată într-un fel de continuum memorial, interesantă din punctul de vedere al formării şi consolidării memoriei colective. Mai trebuie remarcat rapid şi remanenţa extraordinară a propagandei vizuale oficiale TVR din iunie 90, dar şi apariţia unui alt „loc memorial“, secundar şi asociat Pieţei – imaginile care au făcut înconjurul lumii cu studenţi şi gulere albe bătute cu bâta de oamenii în negru.

În fine, cea de a treia categorie este mai degrabă tânără (în jur de 18-20 de ani). Nu ştiu ce s-a întâmplat în Piaţă, nu au nicio opinie despre încărcătura sa istorică, emoţională etc. Am primit din partea lor răspunsuri de genul: „aici este un loc unde oamenii vin şi hrănesc păsările“ sau „sunt student, mi s-a întâmplat să mai vin cu tovarăşii să mai facem o cântare cu chitara, în serile călduroase de vară“.

Ce ar mai fi de spus? Piaţa Universităţii continuă să aibă propria sa viaţă, este o adevărată inimă „psiho-socială“ a cetăţii, prezentând o fluiditate a spaţiului şi timpului care a reuşit, cred, să se transmită şi în imaginile de pe film. Acolo se întâmplă întotdeauna „ceva“. Chiar ne întrebam dacă uneori nu ar fi fost mai înţelept şi mai sugestiv să lăsăm o cameră de filmat undeva, pe un balcon, fie al „golanilor“ sau nu, şi să înregistrăm ce se petrece acolo timp de 24 de ore lungi, fără niciun cuvânt, niciun comentariu. Actul memorial prezent în Piaţă este în principal opera unor indivizi izolaţi sau a unor asociaţii de voluntari care nu-şi permit comemorări fastuoase – iar lucrul acesta se vede şi se simte în transmisia memoriei locului în conştiinţa colectivă.

Atunci când ne plimbam cu camera de vederi pe umăr, mulţi dintre cei intervievaţi spuneau că ar dori un „ceva“ cât de mic care să le aducă aminte de 1989 şi mineriade. Locul revenea obsesiv: pasajul de la Universitate. Renovat între timp, cosmetizat onorabil, pasajul a început deja să se umple de diverse magazine. Întrebare la care nu aştept un răspuns: Piaţa Universităţii şi memoria noastră naţională chiar nu merită să i se rezerve una dintre „alveolele“ din pasaj, cu rol de minimuzeu? Nu este mai importantă prezervarea memoriei, în locul unui banal magazin care să vândă cartofi prăjiţi şi băuturi răcoritoare stoarse din chimicale? Nimic nu este mai greu de prevăzut şi cu un potenţial destructiv mai important decât „viitorul memoriei“. Dacă va mai exista unul.

Fragmente din filmul "Locuri memoriale din Romania: Piata Universitatii" pot fi vizionate la dresa:

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