From 1945 to 1991, Albania was the biggest prison in Europe. For forty-five years, under the regime of Enver Hoxha – one of the fiercest in recent European history – thinking freely and expressing one’s own opinion in public was irresponsible and dangerous, even for those listening. Daily life followed the rules laid down by a comprehensive and efficient surveillance system that insinuated itself into every facet of public and private lives.
Every day hundreds of agents monitored the “-ideological correctness-” of party members and other citizens alike-, spying on them and then classifying each individual based on their most insignificant mannerisms and behaviors.
The collapse of the regime, symbolised by the demolition of Hoxha’s statue in Skanderbeg Square on 20 February 1991, confronted Albanians with the freedom they had longed for decades, but also left them with a gaping void. “-Europe’s youngest country-” – as it was defined by the MEPs present in Tirana during the days of the revolution was faced with the sudden urgency of stripping its political, economic and social identity of the stereotypes of the past only to move towards a future full of contradictions: migration, capitalism, consumerism, – and the European continent.
Grande Padre is a long-term project – that drawing on the particular Albanian case, reflects on the relationship between individuals and power throughout the world. The research process, begun in 2018 and carried out in collaboration with the journalist Christian Elia, offers an immersion into today’s Albania, exploring the implications and consequences of the rise and fall of a regime.
The narrative corpus (using photography and text) highlights the scars that this transition process left on the society, carefully analysing its architecture and places, identifying gestures and symbols, digging through the rubble of the past and comparing it with that to be found in the present time.
Listen to the words of the artist