Nikola Radić Lucati


The record

"...the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about." (Genesis 23:16)

Commemorative Plaques occupy a special place in history by ensuring that prominent people and events are permanently recorded in a beautiful and everlasting way. In Yugoslav socialism, the tradition of remembrance was tied to the hierarchy of the party and state, by order of merit earned in resistance. Civilian victims were recalled only in extraordinary cases. Inversely, in times of the historical revisionism and surge of fascism, the victims are forgotten intentionally if remembrance was to lead to uncomfortable revelations. The commemorative plaque of a misplaced record of testimony is meant to transcend the erasure by reconnecting the living testimony of the atrocity back to the site where it happened. It is meant also to overcome the possibility of censure as it is meant to be mobile and installable in indoor conditions, where that testimony can be guarded. It is not a work of art.

This work was made jointly with a group of historians, public and cultual workers of the “Visit to Staro Sajmište” project, which aim to develop the emancipatory practices of historical study and remembrance. Through the multi-layered research into the conditions of emergence of fascism, this group is rebuilding historic and political consciousness necessary in recognition of and combat against the contemporary fascist tendencies. It is the historians of this group that have uncovered the unreported testimonies of, until now, unknown 1941 mass-executions sites in Belgrade.

The work’s title is about the record of testimony of the mass-shootings of Jewish and Roma hostages taken from the camp Topovske Šupe, and is reproduced as part of the work. The title quote (Genesis 23:16) describes the contract on the transfer of ownership in the purchase of the burial plot by patriarch Abraham. The event was witnessed by the descendants of both the seller and the buyer, guaranteeing the safety of the graves for generations to come. The plot described in the bible also fits the description of the execution site in Rakovica. Opening of the narrative on the significance and role the graves of the patriarchs and victims of the Holocaust and their neglect problematizes the coupled state - church sovereignty, as well as private ownership over the concentration camps and mass executions sites of Belgrade.

In 2013, the announced demolition of the camp “Topovske Šupe” will start it’s transformation into a shopping mall. This work is a modest attempt at paying homage to executed hostages, that have never allowed themselves to endanger their families; and also to those that have summoned the courage to disregard the threat of death, cast a look at the suffering of their fellow citizens, and pass on the memory of their dignity.

Shown at the "Missing Places" at KC Grad, 9-15th 8. 2012. Curated by Dejan Atanacković