Mani Sauc / I am being called 2023
Mani Sauc / I am being called, was a one day performance held on 14 June 2023 in Ventspils Market in Latvia. It commemorated the deportation of 15,500 Latvians to Siberia that took place on the night of 13/14 June in 1941.
The performance started in the morning when I nailed copies of the top secret NKVD documents that list the names, birthdates and addresses of everyone in Latvia who was arrested in 1941, to the walls of the market stage which was constructed from packing crates. The lists of names totalled 503 pages and were sourced from 'These Names Accuse', a book that documents Order No 001223, which outlines how the deportations were to be conducted. The order was signed by the then Deputy People’s Commissar of Public Security of the USSR, Serov.
I continued the performance by handwriting the names and addresses of all the people who were arrested in Ventspils on individual strips of paper. After each strip was completed, I rang an office bell and nailed the strip to the wall of the stage over the top of the other pages.
The performance started at 9am and finished at 6pm. Members of the public were allowed to come onto the stage to view the pages nailed to the stage walls. Many people asked me questions and told their personal stories of relatives who were sent to Siberia on that fateful night. Some of us cried together. One woman presented me with a white rose.
Pils iela 14, Ventspils, LV 3601
Mani Sauc / I am being called, 2023
9am - 6pm, 14 June 2023
One day performance on a stage made of packing crates in the Ventspils Market, Ventspils, Latvia
Book, copied book pages, paper, hammer, nails, pens, handwriting
Audio courtesy Soundtrack and Ventspils Market public licence.
Duration: 9 hours
Images: Kristaps Anskens
With special thanks to:
Ventspils International Writers and Translators House: Ieva Balode and Andra Konste
Ventspils Market: Director Juris Jope
Banuta Rubess for performance advice
Dagnija Drungila, 'Balss nedrikst palikt klusaka,' (Our voice must not become silent) Ventas Balss, 15 June 2023, pages 1 and 4.
ReTV, Latvian TV news broadcast, 14 June 2023
While the performance commemorates all the deportees of June 1941, it is also dedicated to the memory of my late mother, Mirdza Ozolins, and her friend, Aldona Ikmanis, who was amongst the deportees and was only 13 years old at the time.
My mother was fourteen years old when she witnessed Aldona and her family being arrested by the Soviets on 14 June, 1941. She never saw Aldona again but in 2021, we found out that she had been released from a gulag in Novosibirsk in 1956. We both cried, happy that Aldona had been freed, but deeply saddened because she had spent fifteen years in a labour camp in Siberia.’
At the time of the performance, I was a resident at the Ventspils International Writers and Translators house where I was editing a novel I am writing about my mother’s escape from Latvia during WW2. I am deeply grateful to the staff at the house for making the performance possible, with special thanks to Ieva Balode.