Martor No. 26 / Year 2021

The Hand at Work or How the KGB File Leaks in the Exhibition

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University of Barcelona, Spain 


University of Oxford, United Kingdom 

Pages: 24-46


Images of violence; museum exhibition; KGB archives; clandestine religion; Soviet Ukraine. 


The article tells the story of the use and perception of images of violence from an unusual trial against a group of believers, arrested in 1952 in Ukraine. Visitors to an exhibition held in 2019 at the Museum of Art in Cluj-Napoca were invited to look at two sets of photographs: originals and spruced-up copies coming from a recently opened criminal file retrieved from the SBU (former KGB) archive in Kiev. Through the reconstruction of the story of the people who suffered the arrest, we attempt to question the use of research ethics and of heritage in relation to retrieving from archives and displaying violent images of the past. What are the attributes and limits of showing? And what can we learn from the hand at work, the process of actively manipulating the image? 

How to cite this article: 

Vagramenko, Tatiana, and Gabriela Nicolescu. 2021. “The Hand at Work or How the KGB File Leaks in the Exhibition.” Martor 26: 24-46. 

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