Sound memorial of Sighetu Marmației

The Sighet prison, located in the city of Sighetu Marmației, Maramureș County, Romania, was used by Romania to hold criminals, prisoners of war, and political prisoners. It is now the site of the Sighet Memorial Museum, part of the Memorial of the Victims of Communism.

History

The prison in Sighetu Marmației was built in 1897, when the area was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as a prison for criminal offenders.  After 1945, at the end of World War II, the repatriation of Romanians who had been prisoners of war and deportees in the Soviet Union was done through Sighet. Starting in August 1948, Sighet Prison was set aside for political opponents of the government. At first, it held students, pupils, and peasants from the Maramureș region.  On the night of 5 May 1950, over one hundred former dignitaries from the whole country were brought to the Sighet penitentiary (former ministers and other politicians, as well as academics, economists, military officers, historians, and journalists), some of them sentenced to heavy punishments, and others held without any form of trial. The majority were over 60 years old. Many important figures of inter-war Romania died in custody, including the leader of the National Peasants’ Party and former Prime Minister of Romania, Iuliu Maniu.  In the fall of 1950, about 45 Greek Catholic bishops and priests were brought in. Among those who died at Sighet were bishops Ioan Suciu, Tit Liviu Chinezu, Valeriu Traian Frențiu, and Anton Durcovici.

After Romania joined the United Nations in December 1955, the prison reverted to being a detention center for usual convicts, though some political prisoners were still held there until the 1964 general amnesty. In 1977 the prison closed;  In the aftermath of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, that saw the dismantlement of the communist regime, poet Ana Blandiana presented in January 1993 to the Council of Europe a project to transform the former prison into a museum, called the “Memorial to the Victims of Communism and Resistance.” On June 20, 1997, the first halls were opened and a prayer and silence space was inaugurated in the small prison courtyard, meant as a tribute to all political prisoners who died in detention in Communist Romania. 

The experience and vision of Room 18 – Collectivization. Resistance and repression

Room 18 presents images from the whole of the period in which the peasantry was repressed and brought to its knees. In the middle of the room an evergreen clod of earth stands as a symbol of the land, alive and free, and also the earth in which those who sacrificed themselves for it are buried.

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what is the sound memory of a place?

Visiting the Memorial in search of a sound imprint that could convey the experience within the project, we came across an earth-like silence that inspired our sound sculpture for this place.
The “memory” became heavy, and even if I was not there, I was present and felt. The sound memorial is a restitution, an experience that wants to be heard and be collective.

The sound memorial of Sighetu Marmației

Video, the sound memorial process

www.memorialsighet.ro