‘The other side of Albanian communism’

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 11, 2017 17:21

‘The other side of Albanian communism’

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  • "Albania was one of the most closed countries in Europe until 1990. It was difficult to travel to Albania, similar to the way it is difficult for travel to travel to North Korea,” says photographer Piet de Blanken who photographed communist Albania in 1987

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TIRANA, Aug. 10 – In May 1987, Dutch photojournalist Piet den Blanken visited communist Albania as part of a travelgroup of “fellow comrades.”

Despite the prohibition on contact between Albanians and foreign visitors and the ban on taking streetphotos, he managed to take many pictures of Albanians and their daily life under the communist regime.

Thirty years later, his pictures are back to Tirana as part of a travelling exhibition featuring twelve Dutch photographers looking back on the work they made in Central and Eastern Europe between 1979 and 1991.

“Albania was one of the most closed countries in Europe until 1990. It was difficult to travel to Albania, similar to the way it is difficult for travel to travel to North Korea. The only way to photograph in Albania was to visit the country as a tourist with a group tour led by an Albanian guide,” says photographer Piet de Blanken as quoted by the exhibition’s organizers.

De Blanken, now in his 60s, photographed especially early in the morning and late in the day.

During the day, he followed the official group program. In this way, he tried to get another image of the country, an image that was not shown in the official group program. In addition, he was repeatedly brought back by the police to a group and guide because it was not the intention of a westerner to explore and photograph the environment alone.

By the end of the trip, his films and stuff were seized. The ‘Whites’ were already prepared for the various incidents with the police, so he had given his full shot of precautionary films to a group member. Johan Janse hid the movies in his luggage and took out the country thanks to him to see these photos here.

The 12 Dutch photographers showcased in the travelling “The other side” exhibition were witnesses of historical moments, such as the emergence of the Polish trade union Solidarnosc in Gdansk in 1980, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Romanian revolution of 1989.

Supported by the Dutch embassy in Tirana, ‘The other side of Albanian communism’ exhibition will be open at Tirana’s National History Museum from August 17 to 30.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 11, 2017 17:21