NIGHT OF A REGIME
Photographs: Antonio Fantasia
Video: Erion Gjatolli, Antonio Fantasia
This is a night journey through Albania’s abandoned communist sites. These places were once symbols of the totalitarian regime,whereas today they are emblematic of the challenge currently facing Albanian institutions and society in coming to terms with an inconvenient and uncomfortable communist past.
Albania’s communist past is largely ignored. However, it lingers in people’s memories and psyches, in the form of fears and injustices gone unpunished. This past is simply silenced, removed from the daylight, from the light of consciousness. Sometimes though, it comes back at night, to haunt its survivors.
The photographed sites reflect this pretend-forgotten past. They mostly tower over city skylines or transform entire territories. These old sites are ignored –neither demolished nor used for other purposes. The majority of them are de-facto ownerless and their exact number is unknown. Together they comprise all aspects of social and political life during that period: industry, military facilities, railway system, airport, mines, prisons, labour camps, radio stations, statues, monuments and mausoleums, houses for the “nomenklatura”, places of leisureetc.
This journey combines photography with oral testimonies of people who experienced these particular places during the communist period, or who are today engaged in adaptive reuse projects.The goal is both to restore the collective and historical memory connected to these sites and to rethink and reimage them as a cultural landscape and a source for local development. These ruins of a recently collapsed political system(“forbidden zones” whose past is still visible) can be explored by artists, planners, architects, local community representatives and activists as sites for public art, cultural reclamation, tourism, local handicraft production and other adaptive reuse. Extracts of these interviews are screened during the exhibition.
Antonio Fantasia is a free-lance photographer currently living in Albania. He cooperates with different local and international NGOs, with private sector, universities and public institutions.
Born and raised in Rome, he has moved after graduation to South East Europe. Over the last 10 years he has carried out a number of projects about post-conflict reconciliation, migration and social inclusion.
He is currently completing a portrait photo project on Albanian returned migrants commissioned by the International Organization on Migration (IOM) office in Tirana. In 2015 he documented the refugees’ crises in Macedonia and the south of Serbia in cooperation with Caritas Italiana and Caritas International. From 2011 to 2013 he worked on a photo project on poverty and social exclusion in the Tirana suburb of Istitut. This work was selected and exposed at the Lucca Photo Lux Festival in 2013.
Since 2014 he has been working on the exhibited night photography project on communist abandoned sites “Night of a Regime”.