Visitors invited to confess what they were doing when dictator died
TIRANA, March 30 – The death of Albania’s Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha in April 1985 after ruling the country with an iron fist for about four decades since the end of World War was experienced as a national tragedy in Albania as in many other communist countries where these leaders were admired massively, but secretly made happier about 100,000 people who were persecuted by being mostly interned, imprisoned and even killed for political reasons.
Albania artist Ilir Kaso, a visual arts professor, is looking back how people experienced the dictator’s death about three decades ago, when he was only a three-year-old child and is trying to collect new testimony by visitors to the exhibition who were older and remember more about the dictator’s death on April 11, 1985 at the age of 76. The communist regime continued for another five years until the early 1990s when the first multi-party elections were held.
“I don’t remember much what happened on that April day of 1985. It was Thursday. I wasn’t even three years old yet when the day suddenly stopped and attention shifted somewhere else,” says the 35-year-old artist about his “What were you doing when the dictator died” exhibition.
“The only thing I have not forgotten is the people’s faces, they were similar. There was also joy for somebody that day, but they couldn’t celebrate, on the contrary, they had to cry. There were also people who couldn’t cry but bit their cheeks in order not to laugh at distorted faces. Maybe that day somebody lost a loved person and couldn’t cry about them, because the dictator was dead,” says Ilir Kaso.
The artist says he will turn his exhibition facilities into a recording studio, inviting visitors to confess their stories.
The exhibition at the Zeta art gallery, one of Tirana’s best private run contemporary spaces, will run until April 5.