Many Albanians have heard about the existence of a foundry in Tirana. It is a place where all monumental sculptures where casted during the communist era. Amongst others the bronze representations of Enver Hoxha, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin found birth here and remarkably enough some prominent statues returned to the foundry after the communist state had exploded. Though only few people know the exact location. From conversations with locals I got the impression that barely anyone who lives here is interested in the iconographic remains that are hidden all around and remind of the local history. Luckily enough I got into contact with someone who was willing to show me in which direction I had to search in order to get to the foundry and so accordingly I found out that it is located just outside the centre of Tirana, surrounded by a gypsy camp. There was nobody to open the gate so I climbed through one of the broken windows to gain access to the building; an activity in itself that touches the subject of ‘urban exploration’. See the pictures below for an impression of the environment.
What I find fascinating about monumental statues being staged in public space is the subordinative radiance their presence tends to communicate. When you take them in the picture, an inevitable relation between you as a passer-by and the statue as an oppressive construction becomes manifested. They literally stand for the political establishment of their creators; they are the iconographic incarnations of political machines and function principally as instruments to confirm their superior position in public space. Statues give the suggestion of immortal leaders, however, not indestructible. I suspect the Hoxha regime of having collected church bells from all over the country when Albania officially became an atheist country, to melt them down for the bronze. Today I hope to reveal the mystery about what happened to the major Enver Hoxha statue. It came to my ears that the remains of the decapitated statue, heavily mutilated by a heated crowd of ‘iconoclasts’, has been melted down not so long ago to reincarnate in multiple statues..