In June and July 2014, philologist Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and photographer Marco Mazzi undertook the Albanian Lapidar Survey, a project to map, document, and photograph the large majority of Albanian lapidars, a particular type of monument, mainly produced in the period that the communist Labor Party of Albania ruled the country (1945–1990) to commemorate the partisan victims, battles, and military units from the National Anti-Fascist Liberation War (which coincided with World War II), as well as historical figures from before the liberation and the accomplishments of socialism in Albania afterward.
These lapidars, which can still be found, albeit in ever decreasing numbers, all over the country — in cities and villages, alongside roads, in forests and on mountain passes — are witness to an enormous expenditure of labor and resources to turn the landscape into a site of what was called “monumental propaganda.” The Albanian Lapidar Survey aimed to capture these monuments as fact.
The results of this project are collected into a three-volume, dual-language (English and Albanian) catalogue, under the title Lapidari. The first volume comprises a series of critical reflections on Albanian monumentality of the period 1945–1990 from a variety of perspectives, as well as historical documents and a full indexation of all inscriptions found on the documented monuments. Volume 2 and Volume 3 feature the photographic documentation of all 649 recorded monumental sites by photographer Marco Mazzi.
Table of Contents
Volume 1: TEXTS
- Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei // Introduction
- People’s Republic of Albania, Ministry of Education, Directorate of Culture // Circular to the Prefectural Executive Committee (Section Education): Regarding Lapidars (1946)
- Ramiz Alia // Report on the State and Measures for the Development and Further Revolutionizing of Monumental Propaganda (1968)
- Kujtim Buza & Kleanth Dedi // Dignified Symbols for Historical Events (1971)
- Muharrem Xhafa // Natural and Cultural Monuments during the Years of Socialism
- Gëzim Qëndro // The Thanatology of Hope
- Raino Isto // “We Raise Our Eyes and Feel as if She Rules the Sky”: The Mother Albania Monument and the Visualization of National History
- Kosta Giakoumis & Christopher Lockwood // Pilgrimage Centered at Text and Memory: The Lapidar in Qukës–Pishkash
- Matthias Bickert // Lapidars and Socialist Monuments as Elements of Albania’s Historic Cultural Landscapes
- Julian Bejko // About the Film Lapidari
- Ardian Vehbiu // Texts Chiseled on the Calendar: A Semiotic Reading of Inscriptions on the Commemorative Monuments for the Period of the National Liberation War
- Monument Descriptions: Index of Names, Index of Places, Index of Dates
Volumes 2-3 features the photographic documentation of all 649 recorded monumental sites by photographer Marco Mazzi.
Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei studied composition, linguistics, conceptual art, and philosophy in the Netherlands, USA, and Switzerland. He studies under Christopher Fynsk at the Centre for Modern Thought at the University of Aberdeen and is Visiting Fellow at Tembusu College, National University of Singapore. The monograph Five Legal Interventions and the three-volume monumental survey Lapidari (punctum books, forthcoming) are currently in preparation. He has translated the work of Jean Daive, Alessandro De Francesco, Hervé Guibert, Dick Raaijmakers, Avital Ronell, and Nachoem Wijnberg, among others, and his writings have appeared in journals such as continent., Frakcija, nY, Parmentier, postmedieval, and Theory & Event. Van Gerven Oei is director of the Department of Eagles foundation in Tirana and runs multilingual publishing house Uitgeverij. He is also one of the founding editors of the journal Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies. Van Gerven Oei lives and works in Tirana, Albania.