ILS presents: Alina Popa


Romania’s Pain Memorials, Biological Pathos and the Spectres of Fetuses

by & with Alina Popa

Body screamin’ fuckin’ bloody mess – Not an animal – It’s an abortion
Sex Pistols, Bodies, 1977

Spectres of Fetuses are haunting the post-communist imagination. A recent article with a neoconservative touch deplores the aborted Romania, the countless “unborn” Brancusi’s that could have enriched MOMA’s collection for the pride of the nation. Such “what if” stories have become dominant flashback moments in a classical nationalist melodrama. What if all those “unborn” had been actually born? What if Communism hadn’t come to Romania?

The termination of communism is thus seen as the legitimate return to the big European family, fed at the breast of the Capitoline She-Wolf. The new retributive and revengeful history (written mostly by men) regards Communism as being forced on Romania by the Bolsheviks, more precisely Russian men. Romania was ideologically and physically raped and made pregnant with a new unwanted fetus that had to be abandoned and locked away, in the wait of the western immaculate conception. The therapeutic abortion of the Communist past is repeatedly induced in movies, reports, Communist Crimes Commissions, public monuments, political speeches and corruption scandals.

The first televised images forcepsed out of the “inscrutable” country after ‘89 were that of women queuing in front of abortion clinics: thus Romania is gendered and becomes a supine woman waiting to be examined and seduced. The miracle of the penetrating West is reproduced on every building, on every billboard, in every shopping mall, while the miracle of life is blessed with a glossy varnish by the new joint venture between local orthodoxy and pro-Vita lifestyle.

The talk will follow the harsh folklore of abortion trough different media, following activist debates and recent feminist positions. It is a strange and unsettling tale that already smells of wax figurines, small plastic doll fetuses used as educational props and religiously charged neo-orthodox clinics.

Alina Popa is founding member of The Bureau of Melodramatic Research, an institution focused on the use and misuse of emotions by meany of melodramatic techniques.