Endi Tupja

Klodiana Millona, family archive. © Klodiana Millona

Hard-Boiled, Contained, Evaporated!

Hard-boiled, Contained, Evaporated! is a research project focused on exposing the menstrual storytelling of Albanian communist bathroom ecologies. It sheds light on a very specific historical and geographical space, linking political repression and trauma to menstrual care. The time span between the 1950s and late 1980s is determined by my personal experience and the intergenerational confrontation with women menstruating in communist Albania. These years point out the stark contrast between menstrual material deprivation and material availability before and after the 1990s, hence integrating the autobiographical into collective memory. The project archives voices and testimonies while investigating how memory can be told and recorded in the present in both visual and audio formats and/or combined with photographic material, especially focusing on the correlation between truth and fiction in experimental film.

The focus of the research is on bathroom images, bathroom floor ecologies, the paradigm of the kerosene furnace, and bodily and other fluids. These aspects will be investigated in relation to menstrual labor and colliding temporalities, alternating between Albania’s dictatorial past and the present day. It is important to create an image for this storytelling to give permanence and tangibility to feminist memories. It represents a space to go back to and is crucial to the placelessness of repressed memories. It provides interconnections for investigating the entanglements between women’s labor and the architecture of oppression and erasure of menstrual gestures.

By focusing on the material and spatial politics intertwined with menstrual labor care, women’s bodies become a site of witness, counteracting nation-state archival formats and the violent structural ruptures in collective memory. Through a multi-sited ethnography of both humans (women’s bodies) and non-humans (soap, blood, gauze-bandages, etc.), the project will focus on an assemblage and inventory of gestures and spatial materialities that will form the basis for developing a film format of performative storytelling.

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.