Mosaic 'The Albanians', National Historical Museum, Tirana
Two-channel video installation │ 19ʼ39” │ 05ʼ38” │ 5.1 sound │ DV NTSC │ color │ 2012
Interested in cultural statements about national representations of identity through the series of interviews with younger generations and re-enactment of mosaic “The Albanians” my aim was to investigate individual manifestations of the collective identity.
What we see and how we feel about our past?
Could glorification of the past be didactic?
What shapes our way of seeing and understanding of past and how it is affecting the way we see the future?
If the culture is mirrored society what does it tells us about our identity?
Throning high above Tirana's main square, up on the facade of the National History Museum, the mosaic The Albanians (completed in 1981) counts amongst the most prominent features of the Albanian capital. Made in the manner of Socialist Realism, the spectacular scene is characterized by an excess of strength, courage and decisiveness, lead by a heroine in traditional clothes and equipped with a gun. It essentially depicts a group of 13 heroic figures in their allegorical strive toward the future, whilst some of them seem to protect the group against an invisible 'behind'. Alluding to prototypical characters from more than 2000 years of Albanian history, already on a descriptive level myth and history, past and presence merge into one.
Familiar to this iconography since her childhood and yet detached from it – Yugoslavia withdrew its diplomatic mission from Albania as early as in 1950 – artist Lana Čmajčanin defined the (in)famous mosaic as an opportunity to initiate a “mnemonic digging”. At the core of her piece Yet to be titled (2012) lied an urgent quest for re-interpretation. How to integrate a legend of failed promises into the everyday life? Which elements of its storyline could still be considered animate, comforting, or disconcerting in the public eye? And how to salvage from such a distorted representation a personal positioning toward the current state, that is, the state of tomorrow?
Camera: Lana Čmajčanin and Olsi Hoxha
Video editing: Lana Čmajčanin and Olsi Hoxha
Sound editing: Lana Čmajčanin and Olsi Hoxha
Language: English, Albanian
Translation assistance: Belina Jano
Special thanks to TICA - Tirana Institute of Contemporary Art, Jona Hysa & Gjergj Mosko