Hidden Galleries - The Archives of the Secret Police in Eastern Europe
Exploring the creative lives of minority religious communities under totalitarianism
The team of the European Research Council project Hidden Galleries are gathering at UCC in February after spending several months exploring the archives of the secret police in Eastern Europe. Hidden Galleries is a four-year project which engages with the creative lives of minority religious communities under totalitarianism through the secret police archives. Headed by Dr James Kapaló from UCC’s Study of Religions Department, the team of researchers consists of Postdoctoral and PhD researchers from Hungary, Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
Since the project was launched at UCC in September 2016, the project team have been delving into rarely accessed materials in archives that are the legacy of secret police, such as the Soviet KGB and the dreaded Romanian Securitate. The archives not only contain the interrogations and reports of agents and informers but also a rich collection of confiscated religious artworks, literature and photographs that are the focus of this innovative project.
Whilst religious persecution during the communist era has been the subject of research for several decades, Dr Kapaló’s project explores archival resources from the perspective of the creativity displayed by communities, aiming for a more inclusive cultural narrative on a period of history dominated by a fascination with the misdeeds of the political and religious elites.
As Dr Kapalo explains “the fascinating and sometimes tragic stories that are coming to life through our research have revealed quite unexpected aspects of everyday religious lives' under communism. We are currently working towards a series of events and publications, and the project will culminate in a public exhibition that will travel between Ireland, Hungary, Romania and the Republic of Moldova.”
The secret police files are an object of dark fascination in many countries in the region but they also represent an important resource for understanding and transforming societies that have undergone traumatic histories. The project is therefore also concerned with fostering an understanding of European culture that integrates the historical experience of Central and Eastern Europe into the public consciousness of the countries on the Western edge of Europe.
Hidden Galleries Project Team from left to right: Dr Ágnes Hesz, Dumitru Lisnic, Dr Anca Șincan, Dr James Kapaló, Dr Kinga Povedák, Dr Igor Cașu, Iuliana Cindrea