“Partially Color”– Rethinking Exterior and Interior Spaces in Communist Romania

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Laura Visan


This essay explores the complementarities between the exterior of Bucharest and the comforting interiors of Romanians’ apartments during the last two decades of communism. My analysis is building upon Henri Lefebvre’s concept of code and his three-tier dialectic of space: spatial practice, representation of space and spaces of representation, highlighting the role of communist architecture in reinforcing the coercive power of Nicolae Ceausescu and the Romanian Communist Party, and in dissuading any act of rebellion against the communist regime. I will attempt to demonstrate that a Manichean perspective, positioning the personal apartment as a safe haven against the hostile communist exterior does not accurately render Romanians’ relation with the communist apparatus, and I will insist upon several instances of (forced) complicity between them and the political regime. The last section of my essay is dedicated to the role of television in mediating between exterior and interior spaces in the communist regime.  Keywords: Romania, communism, Lefebvre, architecture, surveillance, exteriors, interiors, apartments, television 

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