Recorded Memories

The Bucharest Abattoir, 2010
video still

The Book of the Bucharest Abattoir is the story of the Bucharest slaughterhouse since its establishment in the year 1872, and into the 1950s. During the Bucharest pogrom in January 1941 the bodies of thirteen Jews, who had been tortured before they were killed, were found here. They were suspended from meat hooks, and somebody had written “kosher meat” on the wall above their heads. Historians have recorded what happened at that time, using statements made by witnesses. These events continue to this day to be denied by some of the slaughterhouse employees and by most Romanian Holocaust deniers. I decided to show the very chapter from the book that deals with slaughtering methods, methods that were almost certainly in use before the war. The chapter is written in a pseudo-scientific manner and contains numerous technical and biological explanations. It describes the stages and methods of efficient animal slaughter and does not shy away from descriptions of the pain and suffering of the animals. The descriptions of the stages of slaughter – the destruction of the cranial nerve nucleus, the bleeding, the skinning and gutting – are illustrated by photographs.

The Bucharest Abattoir
The performance was filmed in Bucharest on the Slaughterhouse Avenue that runs very close to the former slaughterhouse, and it deals with the falsification of history during the communist regime. The poem that refers to the murder of the Jews in the slaughterhouse is repeated endlessly, whereby its verses are recited in an arbitrary order. The anti-Semitic poem was written by an author using the pseudonym Petre Ivancu, and was published on 14 June 1986 in the magazine Scânteia Tineretului: Supliment Literar și artistic.

all those who tried to take our skins
were left hanging
by their necks.
so many wolves in sheep’s clothing
we’ve seen strung up till the death.
we had to wait patiently
until they met their ends.
their shadows,
in heavy nooses / will linger on many centuries


Ştefan Sava
Born 1982 in Slobozia, Romania; lives in Bucharest, Romania

Sava studied photography and video at the National University of Arts in Bucharest, where he is currently enrolled in a PhD programme. His work establishes an intimate relationship between the viewer and the dialectic of past and present. His interest is focused on terms such as “contemporary history”, “historical trauma” and “postmemory”.

Solo exhibitions:
The Inside-Out of the Wall, Ivan Gallery, Bucharest, Romania, 2012. Atoms and Void, Galeria Posibilă, Bucharest, Romania, 2010

Group exhibitions:
Common Nostalgia, Pavilion Unicredit, Bucharest, Romania, 2013. From the Backstage, Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest, Romania, 2012. Here and Then, Centre for Contemporary Culture Club Electro Putere, Craiova, Romania, 2011. Cities Methodologies Bucharest, Casa Scarlat‐Ghica, Bucharest, Romania, 2010