Photographs from Albania by Sebastián Laraia

I travelled to Albania, even though I didnt have a connection to either the Eastern Block countries or to the Balkans.  It was just a white spot, and not only on my map but also in my imagination. Directly in front of my house door, in the middle of Europe.

It fascintated me to travel to places that didn’t actually interest me.

That was exactly how I felt.
Like a fish out of water.

It seemed to be a country ruled by a dictator and whose culture seems to have been completely erased. Unable to see something, it left me completely bored.
I saved myself by running from Coffee to köfte, from köfte to Raki and from Raki into my bed and then awoke to start again.
This land seemed to me to be so heavy and still.

I caught a frame, that  pushed me to discover something interesting in the hope that this overall feeling of „nothingness“ would not overtake me.  But in the end, nothing happened and I was worn down, but also sure that something would come again.

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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.