The beginnings of Marubi studio

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 29, 2019 14:34

The beginnings of Marubi studio

Story Highlights

  • Lucjan Bedeni who is director of the "Marubi" National Museum of Photography in Shkoder, has been studying and researching on the beginnings of Marubi’s studio photography for years. The environment where it was placed, the exact time when it was erected, the first photograph shot, and not only, because photography was one of the arts on which we were updated with the rest of the world.

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TIRANA, March 28- It was yard like many others, surrounded by walls, trees and bushes, and from where you could see the house’s door and window, the stairs and a handrail made of twigs. It was a yard also in the sense of a residency where the King, Prince and the bayraktar could enter and hang out, but a shelter also for the villager and beggar.

It was yard which had the advantage of photographing in natural light. Since the intensity of light had to be fixed the yard would be covered with a light cloth that softened the incoming light, making it appear as a tent to hang out for a while. For this reason it resembled a “meeting tent,” a meeting place for anyone, local or foreigner that could come and see themselves through Marubi.

Lucjan Bedeni who is director of the “Marubi” National Museum of Photography in Shkoder, has been studying and researching on the beginnings of Marubi’s studio photography for years. The environment where it was placed, the exact time when it was erected, the first photograph shot, and not only, because photography was one of the arts on which we were updated with the rest of the world. The “Marubi” Museum has lately opened a dialogues cycle that discuss the Marubi dynasty. The location and activity of the first photography studio established by Pietro Marubi in Shkoder is still unknown. Year 1856 remains the date of the studio’s setting so far. In published texts it is written that the first studio equipped with the necessary updated means was built during 1885-1890.

Bedeni himself through the discussion “Meeting tent on a yard” brings his research on the Marubis. This research has to do with tracking the location of Pietro Marubi’s first studio, and how he conducted his activities. Basically where the studio was located, how big it was, who were the models or clients he would photograph. Bedeni has picked a few photographs which are connected to one-another, for which he will also provide explanations. These meetings come after the workshop “Now and then” which shed light on how Marubi’s characters would pose, how they’d dress, their facial expressions, and other details noticed in the image composition. The workshop retook the old tradition of photographing in the studio of the Marubis, by approaching it with current personalities as authentic as those in the era of Marubi.

 

The traces

According to Bedeni’s research the Marubi Studio included a 5 x 7 meters space area in a northeastern position. Two-thirds of the roof and the entire facade were made of glass so the light could enter equally from all sides. The windows were covered with large curtains, moving according to the need for light. The first cameras used were 30 x 40 cm in size, both French and German brandings with two 26 x 31 and 21 x 27 cm negative tapes. Photographing with this camera was done in both in shade and outdoors. Later, a 18 x 24 and 13 x 18 cm camera mounted on wooden tripods came into use.

Bedeni notes that the photographic studio “Marubi” did not produce solely for the personal or family needs of the citizens. Photos of ethnographic, historical or geographical interest illustrated dozens of works for Albania from foreign authors, or were published in the form of postcards. Its photos are a rare asset to historians, ethnographers, architects, urbanists, artists, and so on.

Patriot groups, barges and insurgents, representatives of the Border Commission, delegates and politicians, women and men with city clothing, village and mountain, pose all within a Shkoder courtyard. Mirdita rulers arriving in Shkodra on the death of Bib Dodë pose to the same cobbled yard of the Kiri stone wall. From a different angle pose and Marash Uci and Cali’s sons.

Further on, we find in these two photographs the same scene, but at a different shooting angle. Characters pose separately and together facing the photographer, who with his camera fixed in one place and moves only the angle of his target in the yard. In one of the photos, the first one, the window is almost in the profile, while the second one is in the middle.

“After the window we see the door being repeated in two pictures and then in the continuation of all other images we find a repetition of a staircase corner. Also, if we enter within these photos, we can feel the traces of the seasons by the people’s outfits as well as by the state, presence or lack of leaves. But from this we also realize that the photographer used this yard for a long time by photographing characters, who set them occasionally sitting and at times standing, then backed up on a stone or on a pod,” noted Bedeni.

Each of these photos according to him remains very interesting to be analyzed about how the picture turns the yard into an improvised scene for shooting his pictures. Looking at the pictures, besides the subjects that pose, we also peer at the yard on the same time. Among these images impresses the picture of Mati Kodheli, one of the rarest found in the archive. This image remains distinctive for the fact that the photographer’s intervention taking care of every detail. Obviously, the pose is taken on a cold day because the trees have shed their leaves. The photographer has taken care that the fence where the person poses will be as full of hardwood and roots. But the most interesting thing is the relationship with light. To the left we see a gear mechanism, which commands upwards a tent that softens the strong light and the rough contrasts turning that yard from exterior to interior.

The selected images offer a reliable version on the context of how Marubi made his first images. They may suggest that the whole story begins with a characteristic Shkoder courtyard, which was the scene where the various subjects came to pose.

FOTO-MARUBI

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 29, 2019 14:34