Photographs from Albania by Jan Michalko

The photographs are of ordinary Albanian life. I wanted to capture the mood of the times and the realities of daily life. These photos focus inwards on the individual and outwards on the general milieu in the cities. They capture the interaction between people and their environment at work, at leisure and going about their daily lives. We see the asthetic juxtapose of socialist past and the newer touches of Western influences characterized by an explosion and bright colours and the sporadic introduction of new technologies.

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Group Project: ALBANIA

What happens in Albania? The former closed Communist country with its long undiscovered coastline and spectacular Alpine interior retains an air of mystery in the midst of familiar old Europe. Albania is the close neighbour of Italy and Greece but, despite the fall of the Iron Curtain 20 years ago, has kept its secrets from us for too long.

This exhibition combines the work of six photographers based in Berlin, who for three years have been regularly exploring Europe’s least-known nation. They have immersed themselves in its unique and complex society successively moulded by the long period of Ottoman rule, the autocratic grip of communism and today by the excitement of emerging as a new democracy into modern Europe.

The idea of the project was to create a picture diary of a nation familiar by name but whose lifestyle, whose people and whose dreams are only slowly revealing themselves. Each of the photographers has followed his own unique approach to tell an unfolding story of discovery through images and other media.

This long-term project could never produce a straightforward narrative or even a journalistic documentation of a place as intriguing as Albania. Instead we offer six essays that build into a mosaic to capture what we found in a land just a short way away, but far from familiar.