Danish Jukniu, a symbol for memory
This article comes first as a reaction to the lack of information and memory, or for the artistic past of Albanians under communism, who, for reasons the time, were found unstructured, and second, to rank and subdivide art products in general, in this way, holding a grudge towards them. The fact that for this reason, history doesn’t even have the least information, is a stimulus per se. So, there are reasons that make me react. Or, in their new conscience, there are randomly preserved, almost stamped opinions, equally valuable at the information level, only in the form of daily news.
Feeling empty and surprised about how in 20 years we still don’t have a summary by true professionals or researchers, makes me invite testimonies of the time, in a tale that aims at filling this historic gap; tales that would bring proof in a new light, by those who lived it.
Two decades have passed by and in the rapid roll of developments in the Albanian reality, there are a lot of changes in characters and values, among the people that passed and paraded next to us: something that, as often happens when stopping to reflect (where often nothing has been marked), we have a legitimate need to watch calmly what we built, and what we did wrong in what we left, in forms of contributions and marks that often is worth discussing.
There is a hesitation to talk about characters of the pre-90s, despite the revanche of the time, about how that period is now condemned to be seen with a guilt tone in general, something that doesn’t allow you go back with enthusiasm, even if it’s criticism, to make it part of the public value or counter-value. But I am now sure that in the picture before and after the 90s, there are still things to be broken down and discussed, so that we don’t find tomorrow an inaccurate glorifying situation, or against this position: that of collective blame of a whole generation. And if we made this balance visible, it’s in the public opinion’s favor to distinguish that there was life and creativity under dictatorship. Survived characters and characters produced by the reality of time, with its deviations and pressures dictated inevitably by the circumstances, need to be undusted, so that the dust can go where it should go.
Under the light of the pre-90s public and because of the hierarchy contouring and the classification of the values of the system itself, with which the power dealt directly, artists were in a way in their first close step towards propaganda. As such, visible or invisible, a part of a swirl of fabrications and creativity became present. This swirl would be a new way of establishing a fair judgment of the time. But today, I wouldn’t want to place on a scale this relationship between arts and powers, as their main managers, but instead I’d like to focus on a different relationship, somewhat more delicate for values and art, which we could make part of public opinion, as a value that must be addressed fairly, and returned to the famous human shade, and for them not to disappear because of lack of attention by all kinds of powers.
Entrepreneurs or managers that don’t stop parading on a grotesque stage, where there is no memory, as a show that competes with it’s own characters. But, even here we’d have a value. Inside a relationship or a human frame, everything is fine.
This was a long parenthesis to emphasize why sometimes an article, a video, a painting, a film, a novel, an audio or any way of expression is much more important that the temporary powers that pass by, striking an invaluable pose in front of our eyes. How necessary is for a society, nation or social group to be (self)identified through the representatives of a certain time?
In the form of limited freedom, when it comes to investing in a pre-90s subject or artist, there are many human little stains that should be brought to light for the public, for us to be able to sight that necessary mold, like a necessary preservative of what’s human, and such thing should be done even more when we have in focus the life of valuable individuals, that are distinguished as archetypes of culture that came out of a complicated and very exceptional regime and history.
To explain the present I think we’ll have to move to the past, even if it’s just for the time distance that separates this lack of culture unification. In this battle there is silence, tears, joy, being lost and staying put, and when I look at it from the present point of view, it seems so absurd and meaningless, thinking that all this didn’t make a long-lived cause, but it still was a collective sobbing, from where you have the chance (in the human aspect) to distinguish individuals and some value that could stick with you, for the time. The entire society was included. There were stagnations of human nature that happen in cyclical forms of changing systems where the society is attached. I would like to focus on one of the lived knots, to bring the atmosphere in discussion.
I don’t know why but when I look back at those years, the first image that comes to my mind for which I feel unconditional compassion, is the image of Danish Jukniu. A character placed at the wrong time that stature wise and elegance wise, had blocked all my exits, I couldn’t love an art image more than him. He was a merely common image in the way he built his survival in a microclimate that fed him with rare and attractive friends. Danish was left in oblivion by the system (he was expelled from Tirana because his spouse was Polish) and then definitively expelled, after the notorious plenum and the hostile group of the time Todi Lubonja and Fadil Paçrami, and the microclimate became more micro.
Rather than just telling this story as a maltreatment by the system, it’s worth saying that even in that kind of system, there were such intellectual formations, that created their multiple survival, together with the fabrications that traversed this tiresome Calvary.
Such artists, by doing a compromise in content, would have found their path and vocations to present a stable art motif and in dissonance with the time the lived. Despite this compromise to camouflage, they were able, in different languages, to bring and educate in an environment with tastes and discourses that left traces, that should be taken out from the mold of forgetfulness.
Leaving apart a subjective view of the writer of these lines, Danish Jukniu wouldn’t be able to be an alibi for our times, but a living model of its dream to leave a mark, not understandable by time; a living human and ethical model of how a valuable profile could be during a conditioned regime, when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of creativity.
The Jukniu cause cannot be an alibi, because he has left brilliant works in the collection of the Gallery of Arts, and this takes down this assumed alibi. The portrait of Kel Marubi, “Gjon Buzuku”, “The Shepherds” and “Drin’s dam” are signs that even today you can share the belief that we are dealing with a pre-phenomenon. Convinced that a high sensitivity paraded in front of us, often, surprisingly enough, with a rational logic about the underground building of the work, and giving us, in value, calibrated colors, without the effect of adding filters. Rather than just the famous socialism realism, he brings, with a personal loyalty, the atmosphere of the time he lived.
With a great talent, through a clear and dramatic filter, sublimed in a plastic language in great plans and with refined details, he conveys a metaphysical charge that communicates without codes with every generation. The portrait of Kel Marubi is a work that even today can be displayed anywhere, without hesitation. In a context of the time it preserves a distance with the old age of the concept, when it was written, and it also sets apart a felt cultural and long-sighted balance, moving all the attention of an almost analytical painting, which was mainly an esthetic center of the time. An unshakable clarity to give longevity to its work as the outrider of the time, of the displacement of the subject in a credibility taken from historical stamps, relying on the artifact.
Or Gjon Buzuku, touched under an enthusiastic light, with an archetype of the plastic art color. Or one of his more symbolic works, where the move from the poetic content operates through big constructive shapes, brings an atmosphere that marks in every context.
Despite the fact that there is a persistence in subliming work, we are successful in reading that meaningful era in this work. A peculiarity to be analyzed, similar shapes, the rocky situation where it’s operated, characters with imposing shapes, a cold landscape where veins of time take shape, etc.
Even if I had to pass by a typical norm of socialism realism, he doesn’t allow you to pass by easily, with a cold analysis, closed til the end.
We can define Danish as a micro-bourgeois trapped in a closed and harsh system, that in the mission of the power, eats its own children. The man with scruples that was intoned in a massive range of people of the knowledge, with some features of a life in a climate built near him, to help survival and the elegant parade, with the mission he had taken up. A character under a shadow, where numerous actors had all the correcting attention, always referring to his opinion. The author of these ranks has lived fragments that show this.
Today, Freedom offers you the choice to jump up to assemble and dismantle profiles of people, whether they’re artists or not, with the help of pre-power game instruments. But, in my alignment of collective memory, there might be envied stories, which were built and created for the high mission of art, like that of Danish Jukniu: prudent, silent, self-made in its mission. Danish Jukniu is not alone in the Calvary of the era we just left behind. No. Because it would be impossible. He was rare in its shape, in the formation he went through and in his unique destiny, to be built in the shadows and lights of time. Other characters of the kind paraded to be identified, and with time, through some of them, we will testify again through public debate, their profile in the wrong era they lived through, but they will be a new cycle of reflection on time, as a balance that we cannot avoid, dead or alive we’ll face it.
Sure, many people may not agree with this article, for many reason, but other many will agree, and they’ll salute me, for many reasons.
There was a time where different characters stood out, mad and in delirium, authors and actors of the so called public life. And I know many of them, I wave at them…. Yes. I am talking about them, mad, outside the general choir, not in line, sensitive people, lovers of the word….. about all those about whom I couldn’t talk in this article.
Danish Jukniu was an elegant parade of the time and a very sensitive character, with many scruples; a decent citizen for society, no one remembers him, no one hears him and it’s not part of any agenda of the culture institutions.
He is silent, in his way, because he feels ashamed…
Vladimir Myrtezai – Grosha