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Donika Çina

Tirana / Albania


B-side comes as the continuation of Donika Çina’s “Untitled (Family Tree)”, a multichannel video installation consisting in experimental documentation of the history of her family and as such of the historical changes and influences thereof on the personal lives of the members. Therefore, referring to the audio recordings in the old vinyl or audio cassettes industries, the previous project also serves as the A-side of the latest one (to be completed), both complementing the same idea of treating historical facts and events within the ground base of society, the family structure, in this way avoiding ideological corruption.

While A-side refers to the history of her mother’s family and genealogical tree, B-side represents her father’s genealogical tree and story. They are not meant to compete as in the old times of playing music, when many B-sides were even more successful than the A-side of the same record, but they both start with a curious case, as in good historical plays, a murder and an imprisonment.

Correspondingly, the imprisonment of the artist’s great grandfather by the Albanian Communist Party is part of the A-side, and the murder of the other great grandfather by Nazi officers of the B-side. Though disconnected from each other, these two stories create two political poles in the background, with victims in both extremes, and a political vacuum in the middle, which can also be depicted as our current and fragile state of the future.

For Missing Stories, the first part of the B-side will be shown, focusing on the aftermath of the death of Kosta Çina (the artist’s great grandfather) as the focal point of the narratives which flow from one interview with a family member to the other, exploring different angles of the truth, memory and personal fiction, all intertwined in a big “if” that threatens the judgment and freedom of expression.

As opposed to other countries, after the Second World War in Albania being persecuted or killed by the German occupiers did not necessarily imply a safe life and respect in the future. A stray German bullet could transform you into a hero as also surviving a year in a Nazi camp could make you a suspect of collaboration with your persecutor.

Through the interviews with the family members and the moment of investigation into what they know about the murder of their relative, but also the resonance of this fact and the way it was treated in the aftermath of the event, the characters of this project start to remember and compare this story to other similar stories, and that is the moment when other characters from the sack of heroes or villains of “The people” enter the stage.

In Evri Çina’s interview (the mother of the artist), she remembers the story of the father-in-law of a friend of hers who had been captured and sent to the Moosburg Camp in 1944.  His name was Theodore Vezuli.

Theodore, a teacher in the small village of Leskovik, was the secretary-general of the National Front of his village. He was 30 years old when he was captured on 23rd February 1944. Then, he was deported to Ioannina for further investigation, kept 2 months in the prison of Larissa and a few weeks in Thessaloniki, when he was finally transported by train to the Moosburg camp in Bavaria.

Surviving the camp and back from the war, from being a simple teacher in a village in time he became the Principal of the school, then the Chief of the Educational Directory of Leskovik, and later of the whole region.Mimoza Qako, being a literature teacher, has a more poetic approach, she recalls a book she read when she was very young, a diary written by a person who had been imprisoned in Pristina’s camp. The diary is called “In the Mouth of the Wolf”, written by Kim Dushi in 1951.

Kim Dushi was a writer who was persecuted during the war and rehabilitated after, in 1967 he was arrested and imprisoned for 8 years for being an enemy of the people by creating de-heroization and adding spontaneity and anarchic concepts to the depiction of the national liberation war in his books. After 1967 all his books were banned.

On the other hand, the interviews of Boris Çina and Zhulieta Grabocka give two different versions of the main event. Boris insists that his grandfather Kosta was executed by the Nazis in the city of Korça. A “madman” from the Balli Party fired a shot in the air and, taken as a provocation, the soldiers arrested and directly persecuted all the men in the area. After the war this could have been a good chance to declare him a hero of the war, a path many others followed, but the family refused to claim heroism and even though they did not fall victim to the communist system they were also not privileged for that time. Conversely, Zhulieta has a very romantic, even idyllic version of the death. He was a shepherd, and on one of his journeys in the mountains he saw someone and asked for a lighter. In the moment that the stranger lights Kosta’s cigarette a bullet penetrates his chest and he dies.


video, 17:18 min.


Donika Çina was born in 1988 in Korça, Albania, studied at Academy of Arts in TiranaAlbania, University of Arts and Design Cluj-Napoca Romania and at University of Art Braunschweig, Germany. She lives in Tirana, Albania. Her works have been exhibited innumerous exhibitions including; TIA MUCH KLIMA, Halle 50, Munchen; Albania is not Cuba, Havana; Dejeuner avec Marubi, Belvedere 21, Vienna; In-Between, Zeta Gallery, Tirana; Double Feature #7, Tirana Art Lab; Ardhja Award, Zeta Gallery Tirana; Tirana Open 1 Book and Art Festival, Tirana; Archivitionism (archivism-activism-exhibitionism), Galeria Plan B Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Autopia Cycle, Eliava Market,Tbilisi, Georgia; The Office Tirana, National Gallery Tirana, Albania and Museo Orientale, Torino, Italy; Guri Madhi Prize, Korçe, Albania.