Alexandru Barnea (b. 1944, Bucharest) is a university professor specialising in ancient history and archaeology, in particular the Roman and Byzantine periods. Between 1996 and 2004, he held for two mandates the position of Dean of the Faculty of History of the University of Bucharest. He has also served as Head of the Department of Ancient History, Archaeology, and Art History within the same Faculty of History. He has carried out and coordinated archaeological excavations at some of the most important sites in Romania. He has authored, co-authored, or contributed to over 100 volumes of studies in his field, and has participated in over fifty national and international colloquia and conferences.
Having had a passion for photography since he was a young child, he is the author of several thousand photographs, covering a wide range of themes. One of the areas covered by Alexandru Barnea’s photographic passion is the recovery of the recent history of Romania, with a focus on the project of demolition of the centre of the City of Bucharest in order to rebuild it in accordance with the demands of the communist architectonic vision. His activity of immortalising on slides images of a Bucharest about to disappear is described by Alexandru Barnea without any kind of emphasis, without attempting retrospectively to lay claim to merits that he considers undeserved, although there were very few who dared to embark on something that involved risks: “It was not in fact, insuperably difficult to take photographs. Almost everything I have in my photos was taken from the hill side of the area. It’s probably for that reason that I got in reach of them. In fact they were only guarded at a distance and with minimal personnel. Anyone who was seen could be stopped for questioning and the film could be pulled out of their camera, but that probably only happened at the more important sites – as was the case of the Sfânta Vineri area, where there were also protests. As far as I was concerned, I never had an experience of that sort, but I know friends who got asked what they were doing with the photographs and why they were taking them. There was just one personal experience that didn’t fit the pattern: the case of Văcăreşti [monastery]. They wouldn’t let me in there, into the immediate vicinity, but I have a photo of the site all the same – the man who was guarding it took the photograph for me. The greater part was already demolished and they were working, in a great hurry, on the foundations. The foundations were made from perfectly preserved bricks. As I said, I have a slide of that site – but it’s not completely my own work. I enjoyed, so to speak, a little complicity on the part of the man who was on guard duty in the area at the time. In fact there was another delicate moment: in 1986, when I took photographs in the area from which the House of the People could be seen, and when I was a little afraid. Elsewhere there were soldiers guarding the perimeter – but far fewer. As a rule, it wasn’t visible, they weren’t ostentatious; the guarding was done much more discreetly.”
Alexandru Barnea was a member of the Romanian Communist Party. He does not hide this, but tries to explain the significance of this institutional belonging to something that had become a mass organisation and had come to include almost four million members by 1989. “A radical opponent I could not be. It was risky. I was a party member, without having any particular activity along that line. I decided to become a party member on the advice of a good friend, for pragmatic reasons, because in that way I could advance in the university system. So, there was no way I could be a dissident and I was not one. I was somewhere on the edge of the system, and didn’t stand out very much either one way or the other. I could see what was happening, I could see that it was bad, that what the people of the regime were doing was harmful, and my photographs are a manner of speaking about the truth of that period,” he says, summing up the that attitude that he had towards the communist regime. On the one hand, belonging to the RCP had become a necessity for people in the university system, because enrolment for a doctorate was practically conditional on accepting this step. On the other hand, belonging to the RCP no longer brought any kind of advantages now that it was no longer an elitist organisation but a mass one, but remaining outside the formal framework of the Party was a disadvantage in any career, because all promotions were made in the first place on political criteria and only after that on professional criteria.
- Bucharest, Romania
Ágnes Katalin Bartha (1978) is a literary historian and theatre historian, doctor of philological studies. She works at the László Szabédi Memorial House since 2003, being solely responsible for processing archival documents and running the Memorial House.
- Cluj-Napoca, Romania
From 1970 she worked in the Slovak National Gallery (as the curator of the 20th-century sculpture collection), later she was a director of the Slovak National Gallery (from 1990 to 1992).
She is the author of essential studies and exhibitions related to the issues of Slovak fine art from 1900 to 1948, including catalogues and monographs for exhibitions presented in the Slovak National Gallery. She promoted artists of the unofficial art scene in Slovakia and abroad, and published in samizdat catalogues. She played an active part (from 1979) in the shaping of a plural form of Slovak fine art of the second half of the 20th century through projects, publications, lectures, studies, articles, exhibitions, and catalogues, with an emphasis on the personalities and tendencies of the 1960s and the unofficial scene of the 1970s and 1980s. She represented the unofficial art scene through lectures (in Paris, Vienna, Glasgow, Poznan, Londonderry, Bratislava, Krakow, Warsaw, Budapest, Esztergom, Krakow, Ostrava, and Prague) as well as exhibitions in state and municipal galleries and museums in Slovakia and abroad (Esslingen, Krems, Copenhagen, Paris, Seville, Passau, Vienna, Krakow, Budapest, Gyor, Ljubljana, Sibiu, Bucharest, and Prague) and at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington, D.C.. She cooperates with many magazines (including Slovenské pohľady from 1989 to 1993; Revue svetovej literatúry from 1986 to the present). She is a curator of the First Slovak Investment Group´s collection (from 1993).
- Bratislava, Slovakia
Artūras Barysas-Baras (1954-2005) was an amateur Lithuanian filmmaker and underground rock singer. His main hobby was collecting old and rare books, magazines, vinyl discs, and other things. He was the lead singer with the underground group Ir Visa Tai, Kas Yra Gražu, Yra Gražu (And all of that that is Beautiful is Beautiful). Barysas-Baras became known and recognisable because of his extravagant behaviour and dress. According to Gaigalas, he liked to be the centre of attention, and that is why he was provocative in his behaviour and in his films. He exploited two particular situations in order to escape persecution by the regime. First of all, his father was an employee of the Soviet Lithuanian Council of Ministers. Secondly, he was short-sighted, and so had the status of an invalid. For this, the repressive structures could not blame him for being an unemployed hippie, which allowed him to behave provocatively. Nevertheless, after making the film Jos meilė (Her Love) and showing it at a republic amateur film festival (according to Gaigalas, at the all-Union festival in Bryansk, as well), Barysas-Baras was disqualified from film festivals and was banned from showing films for one year. As he himself recalled, that made him very angry. As he argued, it was the first and only case in all-Union amateur film history that someone was disqualified. In the same year, he made the film Jo ieško (He is under Surveillance) which was, in his own estimation, his best film.
- Vilnius Vasario 16-osios gatvė 13, Lithuania 01106
Evhen Batchinsky was born in 1885 in Katerynoslav (later Dnipropetrovsk, now Dnipro) in the Russian Empire. Born into the szlachta, or a legally privileged noble class, Batchinsky attended a military cadet school in Oryol, Russia and the artillery academy in St. Petersburg before serving in the Tsarist army as an artillery lieutenant. He was among the officers with revolutionary aims in the period 1905-1907, advocating for the institution of a constitutional monarchy and federalization of the empire. For this, Batchinsky was arrested and released from military service, serving 10 months in prison before fleeing to France where he lived from 1908 until 1914. Batchinsky traveled briefly to Bukovyna (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1910, where he was arrested and spent three months in jail for agitating for the creation of a Ukrainian university in Lviv. From that point onward, he was under the surveillance of Romanian, Hungarian and Soviet state security services. He then returned to France, before moving to Geneva in 1914, when he also began studying socioeconomics at Lausanne University.
From 1915 to 1917, he was a representative of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (Soyuz vyzvolennia Ukrainy) in Switzerland and was editor of La Revue ukrainienne, an official publication of this organization. In 1918, he was made temporary consul of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) diplomatic mission in Switzerland, participating in various diplomatic and political activities. From 1919 to 1922, Batchinsky served as general secretary of the Chambre de Commerce Ukraino-Suisse in Geneva founded by Pavlo Chyzhevsky, an emissary of the Ukrainian National Republic, and was editor of its publication, Vistnyk (The Herald). During the interwar period he continued his journalistic activities, and was an accredited journalist to the League of Nations for several Ukrainian newspapers.
In 1939, Batchinsky founded the Central Aid Committee of the Ukrainian Red Cross in Exile, and was its director until 1950, when it was disbanded. Though not officially recognized by the International Red Cross and severely lacking in resources, this organization helped a large number of Ukrainian refugees during and immediately after World War II with advice, documents, and occasional material assistance. Documents Batchinsky prepared helped save a number of Ukrainian refugees from forced repatriation to the Soviet Union. At least three large boxes of materials relating to the Ukrainian Red Cross and the Prisoner of War Post remain at the Ukrainian Museum-Archives in Cleveland.
Alongside his diplomatic and humanitarian activities, Batchinsky avidly collected documentation from this period, amassing a collection that totals 115 linear meters, including 67 meters of manuscripts and other papers and about fifteen hundred serial and monographic publications. As indicated in the finding aid prepared by Carleton University, he acquired these materials in various ways. Some were encountered in his day-to-day administrative functions and preserved organically, while in other cases he sought out personal papers of notable diplomats and representatives of the UNR’s government-in-exile. Evhen sent some of these materials to his brother Leonid Bachynsky in Cleveland, Ohio from the 1950s to the 1970s. Though Carleton acquired most of these surviving materials in 1982, which amounted to one-third of the reunited Evhen Batchinsky Collection, some items remain part of the UMA’s holdings.
- Dnipro, Ukraine 49000
- Geneva, Switzerland
- Gruyère District, Bulle, Switzerland
- Lausanne, Switzerland
- Oryol, Russia
- Paris, France
- Saint Petersburg, Russia