No other country of the former Communist Eastern Europe has gone through such a turbulent transition period like Albania. People were torn out of a strictly regulated and deprived system and left to themselves, almost from one day to the next. Enormous migration processes set in, many escaped to Italy and Greece but the majority moved within the country. Albanians, unfamiliar with market institutions, started to invest their money in dubious companies that turned into pyramid schemes promising high returns for deposits. When the schemes crashed in 1997, the country descended into anarchy and almost plunged into a civil war. Once again, a wave of migration set in. At the turn of the Millennium, there was hardly anyone in Albania who still lived at the place where he/she had their home in the late 1980s.
Although the major political events, the social developments and the economic processes are well documented, there is a lack of awareness about what was happening with the people and what these dynamics have made out of them. Flashback wants to bring the 1990s back into the memory of the Albanians. It is a visual project with photographs and video shootings that have been produced in various parts of Albania in the 1990s. The photographs and the shootings are deliberately used to revive times, to evoke images, associations, smells and feelings that have been buried in the frenzy of rapid change.
The exhibition has been touring Albania since the summer of 2017. Exhibition venues are Bajram Curri (Summer-Autumn 2017), Shkodra (February-March 2018), Vlora (April-May 2018), Gjirokastra (June-July 2018) and Tirana (October 2018). In addition to presentations in galleries, intercity buses are branded with photographs from the 1990s. In 2022, the exhibition will continue its tour outside Albania.
In 2020 the book Albania's 90s: Photographs and Narratives / Fotografi dhe Tregime was published by Bahoe Publishing House. The volume assembles photographs, personal narratives, memories, and reflections that tell about life in remote regions of the country, about migration, the longing for change, and the transformative spirit in the fields of art, culture, and civil society. The book also addressed questions of the visual representation of Albania (as the epitome of the Balkans), aspects related to the creation of the photographs in the context of travel and fieldwork, their use for research and outreach purposes, and their reception by different audiences in the 1990s and at the exhibitions more than 20 years later in Albania.
‣ Albania’s 90’s - Campus Radio Kiel, 29. 4. 2021
‣ Statt Doppeladler zwei Löwen - Augustin, Nr. 518, 2. 12. 2020