March 8 / Women who don't laugh!

2024-03-08 12:09:20Dhoma e rrëfimit SHKRUAR NGA ENTELA RESULI
Photo of Vani Burda

March 8 is International Women's Day. We have not spread internationally, but we have concentrated in one city of Albania to get to know through photography, the woman of the 30s. It is a city that has known civilization early; the spirit coming from abroad, due to the emigration of the inhabitants of this area, has been felt, at least in the clothes. We are talking about the city of Korca. Our today's character, Vaster Dhima is a collector.

He has completed his studies in Architecture, but until now he has devoted himself to the collection. This time, Dhima immersed us in portraits of Korça women from the 30's taken in Korçë. They are works of the photographer Vani Burda (1875-1949), which the collector has secured with great effort.

Through the portraits of these ladies from Korça, we will try to understand something more about them in that period. Burda's photography has its own characteristics. He did not photograph the elite of the city, but his clients were from the middle class. There are those who are dressed very stylishly, where accessories such as pendants or hats are not missing, which are few, but enough to give them a noble and dignified look.

While their hair is always neat and held with pins. What is noticeable in almost all the photos is the fact that they are serious. They don't laugh, maybe because the reason for taking the photo might have been for the documentary effect.

However, even those few photos that were taken in the Burda photographer's studio, where there are supposed to be compositions, still prevail seriousness. Does this show the situation of women in that period!? We cannot say this for sure. Unfortunately the photos have no names. Everyone of you can be lucky and can find his grandmother or great-grandmother in rare collection.

On the other hand, a comparison can be made with the woman today, how she has changed in these 90 years and what is still left since that time.

Collector Vaster Dhima has tried to study Vani Burda's photography in detail. He brings us details about his work through photos and what he has learned and understood from this collection, which he says he is lucky to have in his hands.

- Vaster, when and how did you get these photos?

-These photos did not fall into my hands by chance, but I managed to "discover" them thanks to my several years of passion for collecting photographic works of old Albanian photographers. I have been cultivating this passion for several years and during this period I have expanded my knowledge about Albanian photographers where unfortunately most of their works have remained almost unknown. Normally, collecting photos is often very difficult, you have to be able to identify the authors of the photos and here you need experience, which is gained over the years. I got most of these photos from other collectors who are unfortunately very few in this field.

March 8 / Women who don't laugh!
Vaster Dhima

- Who is the author of the photos of the "Kor?ara woman" and is there a story behind the creation of these photos?

- The author is Kor?ar photographer Vani Burda. These are simple photographs that do not carry any special story, some of them were taken in Burda's studio, which are the most beautiful shots, and some of them were taken outside (outside the studio) which are simpler and more little curated in any respect, but very direct.

-Which years do they belong to and how was this period in Korça in terms of photography?

-These photographs were taken mainly in the 1930s. In this period Korça was probably the capital of photography where many of the best Albanian photographers worked and where the phenomenal photographer Kristaq Sotiri stood out above all. These photographers had opened their studios where they served with dedication and professionalism for the citizens of Korça. Most likely, it must have been very difficult for Vani Burda to secure an income through photography, this can be seen because during the 1930s-1940s he was in very difficult economic conditions and his work as a photographer did not provide enough income for his family. his.

-In your opinion, what are the characteristics of his photography, what makes him stand out?

- To draw conclusions about Burda's photography is not easy because his photographic work should have been well preserved, and the documentation about his activity should have been more complete. In addition to photography, Burda also practiced painting at an amateur level, often putting it at the service of photography by creating poly photos, posters, and many other compositions and reproductions, mainly with a patriotic theme. From the materials that have been published and that I have, I can say that Burda is a very limited photographer who worked mainly in the studio. His picture is dark and contrasty. In his work, portraits, family groupings, figures on carnival days prevail, but landscapes, photo reportages and true artistic shots are very absent. The ones we have in our hands are photos of women from Korça.

- Was there any purpose in photographing them, or are they photos that they wanted?

-The realization of these photos was done simply for commercial purposes. The women who posed are clients who requested a portrait simply for pleasure (or other personal reasons) and in most cases these shots were taken to be used as photos for documents such as: receipts, passports, IDs... Photos that have a white background are typical photos intended for use in various documents.

-You yourself, as a collector, what did you see special in these photographs?

-From these photographs it seems that the portraits of these photographed women are nothing but the portrait of the photographer himself. Their portraits with a very pessimistic spirit, with shades of disappointment, suffering, dissatisfaction, rigid as if from the impossibility to change something in their lives, are a reflection of the portrait of Vani Burda himself, who was in a miserable economic condition during this period. and filled with anger and false hope that the Albanian state would make at least a gesture of gratitude for one of the founders of the Albanian nation. In fact, he rewarded him by letting him die in misery as a cigarette seller on the streets of Korça.

-What are the characteristics of the Korça woman in these photos?

-From these photos, it can be seen that the Corca woman of the 30s is pretty emancipated, not forgetting that these women we see are not part of the Corca elite, and yet an attempt to have a more modern look for the time that we see in the model stands out. of hair, clothing and accessories. However, the Western spirit that they try to wear on the outside seems to carry the suffering and frustration of a society that is still closed and prejudiced against women.

-In your opinion, do these photos have a message today?

-Normally these photos have a message, and the message received is completely individual for each viewer. Here we see the face of the Korça and Albanian woman who is not far from us because these images are someone's great-grandmother, grandmother or mother today. In addition to a material look, we must try to capture in the portrait and in their gaze the psychological state that was hidden inside and in this way see how different these women of the 1930s, brought thanks to the work of Vani Burda, are from the women of today in a equally patriarchal society.

'Confession Room' exclusive column of VoxNews.


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