The school at night

Lyceum Artistik


Valentina Bonizzi

In January 2021 a performance was announced to happen at the courtyard to the Lyceum Artistik in Tirana, Albania. The school was established in 1946 – just at the fall of the fascist occupation and the rise of the communist regime – and was named after WWII hero Jordan Misja, who was also a painter. In the early 1970s the former communist dictator of the country, Enver Hoxha, expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of attention the school was paying to the posters portraying big characters which filled the walls of the school’s architecture. After the fall of the regime in 1991, it is said that many protests happened in front of the school.

A visual artist, who is not from Tirana or Albania, has lived since 2016 in a building constructed in the 1990s, her 7th floor balcony directly overlooking the school courtyard. Every day the artist hears the voices and the music of the school’s students, who are aged between 6 and 18 and are taught music, choreography and the visual arts. The artist hears every day the sound of the school mixed with that of the bulldozers who are rapidly swallowing many buildings around the neighbourhood, to be replaced by neat architectural plans for the future new and shining self-portrait of the city. Every night from her balcony, the artist smokes cigarettes, while she dreams of switching off the lights of the school and working with the children to figure out another picture, other posters portraying an imaginary site for the many pieces swallowed by the bulldozers. She wishes for these new images to be accompanied by a single sound that everyone could feel part of. She dreams for many nights to see that happening from above, from her balcony.

On the night of the performance, all the lights were off, the DJ was ready with the sound piece and the children with their drawings. It is said that it was the coldest night of the year in the city, and the artist experienced the ground floor of the courtyard together with the children, whilst the vision of her dream remained frozen, up on the 7th floor.