14 Jan Interview with Iva Lulashi
Iva Lulashi is one of the artists participating in the exhibition “Uninspired Architecture: Public Space and Public Memory in Albania.” Her untitled work from 2013 comprises a series of nine paintings, invoking photographic images from the communist period.
Department of Eagles: Your work often seems to be based on photographic material. Many of your paintings reference photographs that have become part of Albanian public memory. Why and how did you choose this material as the basis of your work?
Iva Lulashi: My approach toward the representation of images has been significantly influenced by photographs of the past rediscovered after a study guided by a feeling of nostalgia. To complete this work it was necessary to relive the signs left in a distant time. The paintings are therefore the fruit of a re-elaboration of images that I feel are part of me, despite not always having lived personally the events from which they originated. Reflecting on the value of the images within society, I cite the visual repertory of a past era through documentary images, television transmissions (for the most part Albanian), but also using private photographs or motifs of the sort, that become the starting materials for my reflection on painting.
DoE: What interests you specifically in the images from Albania’s communist past, and what do they mean for you in your art practice?
IL: I love to adapt my painting technique to the theme I want to represent.The structure is based on the juxtaposition of Time-lost and Time-rediscovered, through the involuntary memory that is the sudden and spontaneous recollection of a sensation experienced in the past, raised by the same sensation in the present. The celebration of rural crafts, of uniformity and rigidity, typical of communist dictatorships, is enhanced by the repetition of actions that gives to my paintings a reassuring and, at the same time, oppressive sense of order.
DoE: Your painting takes part in a tradition of history painting, following a line from Jacques-Louis David to more recently work such as the cycle “October 18, 1977” by Gerhard Richter. It is commemorative work. What do you think about the status of the (communist) past in Albania at this moment?
IL: I decided to represent people and events concerning the communist period to express an ambiguity which still characterizes my country. In Albania, as in other countries, communism has had a dictatorial matrix instead of an egalitarian approach. This contradiction between political ideology and history is what strikes me the most.