The fall of the Hoxha Dictatorship saw the removal of communist art from public spaces. The act of iconoclasm is as old as we are, from the Egyptians to the French Revolution the relief at liberation has been expressed in removing the symbols of the old regime. In Albania debate continues whether to maintain these socialist realist icons or replace them with art more in the spirit of the current times. But on the streets of Tirana these spectacular artistic echoes remain:
Mosaic On The National History Museum
This stunning 400m2 mosaic in Skenderbeg Square was completed in 1980. The left side depicts 2000 years of invasion from Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, the right shows the anti-fascist partisans of World War 2. The 1912 Independence declaration is shown by the man in the suit while the centre shows workers in power with their red flags and guns.
Lenin and Stalin
Dumped at the back of the Art Museum’s car park stand Lenin and Stalin. Sometimes their faces are exposed, sometimes they are bagged. I am unsure if this is to protect them from the weather, or protect us from seeing their faces. Historic news reports show their undignified exile to the car park. The New York Times, December 22 1991 reported of Stalin: “A crane loaded the dark bronze statue onto a truck, its head hanging over the back.” Lenin was dismantled on June 21, after: “3,000 people jeering and waving torches scaled the monument. After three hours, the statue was wrenched from its pedestal and towed away to cheers.” (Associated Press). They now stand, ignored, awaiting their fate.
Mother Albania stands 12 metres high, her arm raised high with a wreath of laurels and a star. Her inscription reads “Eternal Glory to the Martyrs of the Fatherland.”