Home, Foundations, Skeleton Structures: On Urban Archeological Traces of the (Un)Homely

Endi TUPJA (Fellow) in conversation with Diana MALAJ (activist, lawyer, cultural organizer) and Ronald QEMA (journalist, activist)

Workshop in Kamza, Albania, by “Laboratori Antropologjokik Urban” (Urban Anthropological Lab). Photo: Nikolas Pipero / Grupi ATA

The constant making and unmaking of home
c ́berja dhe berja e vazhdueshme e ndjesise se shtepise

In the context of her Fellowship project Hard-Boiled, Contained, Evaporated!, Endi TUPJA has invited Diana MALAJ and Ronald QEMA to talk about the construction of home, personal identity and belonging. Referring to Homi K. Bhabha’s “the unhomely” as a realm of non-belonging, the talk aims to consider the self as unsituated and constantly confronted with unanswered questions. These questions affect both practical and spiritual aspects where the self is exiled and the home is exiled too. Exiled in the wish to become. Exiled in the impossibility to become. Exiled in the postponement of becoming. Both journeys of internal (national Albanian) and diasporic migration will be discussed and contextualized.

Endi Tupja and her guests will draft an urban archeology of lost spaces and explore the memory of the home/bathroom as a memory of the self. How does growing up in post-dictatorial contexts inform one‘s existence in the inheritance of repression affecting the spaces we inhabit and live in? An archeology of objects and specific design tropes can be both nostalgic and repressive. The friction of these sentiments creates a tension invested in the practice of recognizing repression and accepting the inevitable comfort of what was once known as familiar. How is this articulated in the diasporic journey in search of the traces of one’s childhood home, a home so quickly dismembered and so quickly nostalgicized?

Diana Malaj: Looking back on the now
The Laboratory of Urban Anthropology (LAU) is an initiative that aims to create a dialogue platform about the arrival in a new land and its transformation into an urban space, giving the primary voice to the newcomers and the “natives”. LAU is a collaboration between the collective ATA (Them) and the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Art Studies in Tirana, Albania. The main topics of the Lab are home, the arrival, and the death/mourning rituals. During the presentation, Diana will elaborate on how the Laboratory of Urban Anthropology is organized and the synergies it creates with the community of Kamza. What traces are left behind for the community, and what is the relationship between scientific research and first-person community research?

Ronald Qema: Finding a movie about home*
It takes more than 23 years to build a house. At least in the case of the Qema family who needed that much time to somehow make themselves feel at home in Kamëz, where they moved in 1994. Seven thousand Italian lira were turned into steel and concrete in 1999, and many more were invested later. Yet no inside-bathroom was built until circa 2010. The kids hitting puberty brought the uncompromising need for an intimate space for personal hygiene. How did the lady of the house deal with this (dis)continuity? And what does it mean to remember the past present of being homed?

THIS IS A HYBRID EVENT. You can either participate in the event on-site in Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen or follow the event online, via Zoom and Facebook. You will receive the Zoom link after registering via Eventbrite.

* Trigger warning: Depiction of animal cruelty/animal death in the context of a ritual sacrifice in video



Endi Tupja (*1984) is an artist, filmmaker/storyteller, and cultural practitioner based between Berlin and Tirana. Her research centers on experimenting with strategies of memory recuperation and the potential of re-enactment with time witnesses. She explores the limits of (self-) representation as well as its tangential relation to video art. There is a friction between the essential and a sense of exaggeration omnipresent in her search for clarity. She continuously tries to challenge a certain idea of established institutional formality in artistic research and academic language. Her work has been shown in festivals and exhibitions in Germany, Kosovo, Mexico, the UK, the Netherlands, Georgia, Ukraine, Italy, San Marino, Greece, etc. She is currently a fellow at Centrale Fies, LIVE WORKS Vol. 10 – Free School of Performance, broadening her research in performative writing and staging techniques of Albanian female voices and memories in the Italian context between 1992-2011.

Diana Malaj is from the city of Kamza, in Albania. She has finished her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Law at the University of Tirana and is currently a PhD candidate in Law & Politics at the University of Graz. She is one of the founders of the collective ATA (Them) in Kamza and also the local newspaper’s editor, founded by the collective, Nyje.al. ATA collective engages with various disciplines and practices, from law to ethnography, activism to journalism, and community organizing to artistic performances. Following the collective’s work, Diana focuses on political, environmental, and human rights issues concerning marginalized and discriminated communities.

Ronald Qema was born and raised in Kamëz, Albania. Member of ATA, reporter, and photographer, he finished his bachelor’s studies in Journalism & Communication at the University of Tirana. An enthusiast for cinematography and anthropology, he meanders through these disciplines in his activity at ATA collective. Advocating the right to education, environmental issues, and community activism, he also uses art (theatre, film, photography) to be heard, seen, and felt.


Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen | Streaming via Zoom and Facebook

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