Ceaușescu’s last Christmas was also his first – his 1989 execution took place on the first Christmas day ever officially celebrated in Romania since it became a communist state. Anton Roland Laub, who grew up under Ceaușescu’s regime, uses this series to give voice to the silent remnants of the Romanian Revolution: The Ceaușescus’ private residence, the “People’s Palace” in Bucharest and the site of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu’s trial and execution in Târgoviște.
Unlike other Eastern Bloc countries, the shift to democracy in Romania involved the death of many citizens and the executions of its leaders. Three decades later, the reason for this bloodshed remains unclear. Revolutionary leaders called upon civilians and soldiers alike to protect the Revolution from nameless “terrorists”, leading to a great deal of friendly fire. This trauma left an open wound which gave rise to conspiracy theories asserting that this was not in fact a revolution, but a coup d’etat.
Shortly after the execution, forensic specialists claimed that the video documenting the supposed execution by firing squad was fake, and that the Ceaușescus had been shot hours earlier. Like the smoke cloud hiding the alleged moment of the shooting in the video, the 1989 Romanian Revolution remains shrouded in mystery to this day. In his photographs, Laub juxtaposes the known and mysterious, the historical and conspiratorial. Using a visual language that recalls crime scene documentation or covert snapshots, Laub expresses the ambivalence, deception and disorientation that characterized the Revolution and its collective processing while also weaving his own personal memories throughout.
In collaboration with the Romanian Cultural Institute
Anton Roland Laub