From Uvil Zajmi
Memorie.al / If you followed fashion, watched foreign TV channels, you could end up with the “gas of the world”, in public squares, in city centers, where there were signs of Socialist Emulation. It has been one of the forms of the time to publicly criticize a person, an individual, a family member, a student, teacher, doctor, even a collective. The first was with the bodice, then with lightning sheets and even wall newspapers. But what was the difference between the bodice and the lightning bolt and how does Bujar Kapexhiu, the well-known multidimensional artist, remember that curious process. so threatening, harassing, dangerous and with consequences for the individual.
Mr. Kapexhiu, what does bodeci mean?
When at the top of the hosten, so called a long stick, on which is placed an iron spike, used to drive oxen, or horses. It is also applied to figurative expressions, such as: he pierced with a bodec, when he stings the other, or in cases to encourage and push someone who doesn’t move to do a job.
As an artist, especially of cartoons, how do you remember “Bodec”?
I liked it, I was happy that Bodec’s caricatures drew me in, amused me, since every person who criticized him, they also made a caricature of him. In many cases, it is accompanied by a stinging comment, a bit of humor…!
One of the negative epithets that was used a lot at that time was “gagarel”, what does it mean?
It was about those boys who dressed in a modern way, with shiny hair, tight trousers and pointy shoes. Every Monday, you would see these types of Tirana, illustrated with caricatures, at the Bodec stand. I also remember some accompanying verses: “Battle body gag / carnival gag / with three ounces of brilliance / dyes hair for shine”.
What about a woman, going out in the bodec?
Of course, the bodeci made no difference. Girls, women who followed fashion, they were also protagonists, who after being “identified” for the trends, they took them out in the bodec.
You told me, even the lovers of pointed shoes were at the top of the bodice?
They were outstanding. There was a competition between them, who had the longest shoe. Custom shoes, or those that came from abroad, were 2-3 sizes bigger from the top, that over time, it deformed and rose up.
Where was the bodec’s stand in Tirana?
At “Rruga e Barricadave”, at the advertisements of the cinema in their center, in front of the former War Museum, with large dimensions, covered with glass, it could not be removed and stayed there for a week. The cartoons were made by the artists of the time, the professionals also engaged in the magazine “Hosteni”.
Where did that critical style come from?
I can’t say how that model was found, whether or not it came from socialist or typical Albanian countries, devised by Albanian individuals. I have not encountered, even later, heard such a practice of public criticism. in other countries, but in Albania, it was intense until the mid-1960s-’70s.
There are years when “Gazeta e Muri” also worked…
Everywhere in Tirana and other cities, “Gazeta e Muri”, another form of civic criticism, was applied. At the stands in the city, enterprises, topical issues, up to announcements, literary creations, but also caricatures of pupils, students, different people, up to cooperatives, etc., were addressed, for various reasons, among them, non-fulfillment of norms, plans etc. Even in schools, there was “Gazëtë Muri”.
What was the use of such a school?
I remember that in high school, at the “Petro Nini Luarasi” gymnasium in Tirana, in the 60s, I made cartoons, the writer, at that time the professor of Literature, Gjegj Vlashi, made poems. In addition to the newspaper, the school’s radio station also operated. During the big break, I read the critical articles that were published in “Gazeta e Muri”, accompanied by humorous poems. Even at home, was the “Wall Newspaper” used?
How is it possible, really?
Yes, of course, this fact is also funny. I remember an intellectual family, with high state functions, they had created in their house, that is, in the apartment where they lived “Gazeta e Muri”. There, family members criticized each other, but not fulfilling daily family duties. It’s times, mentalities, that influenced in this direction as well.
But, the bodeci was and remained the main one?
Tirana’s Bodeci had even more “qualities”, an entire capital followed him and the attention was greater. Even the characters were more public, charismatic figures of the time. People who were waiting for him with great interest and curiosity on Monday, especially when a well-known man was exhibited there, who had great company, friendship. In the Tirana of those years, the bodeci became a weekly ritual, and everyone called each other to see the bodeci.
Who were the “characters” who appeared most often in “bodec”?
In the bodec, there were “thugs”, thieves, miscreants, brawlers, but mostly those who reflected western tastes and trends, with different clothes, shoe models, modern style, a shirt with colors and flowers, etc., who were not liked by the line. political, organizations of Professional Youth Unions, Wards, Party Committee, etc. And the person was placed in the bodec, as a model not suitable for society, that should be criticized, not as a positive example, even that should not be imitated, but condemned. “This is the bodec,” people said. A weekly public communication, which in many cases, served as a place of entertainment.
Was the cartoon accompanied by humorous verses?
In addition to the caricature of the person, it was also accompanied by text, sentences, humorous lines. Even today, I remember the characters, always at the center of the bodec, among them a friend of ours, a traditional watchmaker, one of the most famous, incomparable, unforgettable, unique for generations, very modern for the time, but not for the bodec.
When were leaf-lightning born?
Lightning sheets appeared at the beginning of 1967, together with the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which was also carried over to Albania. They became aggressive after Enver Hoxha’s speech, against mainly foreign shows, but which affected art, sport, industry, culture, hospitals, institutions, schools, universities, every sector of personal and collective life, even athletes, etc., etc. .
What was the difference between bodice and sheet lightning?
First in time, different periods. The exit to the bodec started at the beginning of the 50s and began to disappear from the mid-60s-70s, when lightning sheets began to appear. Even as content, form: Both aimed at criticism, public condemnation, but the bodeci had only the individual, the lightning-sheet, the individual as well, but also the collective criticism.
Were they tougher than bodeci?
In the bodec, the outgoing person was also accompanied by a caricature of himself and a little humor, as I have shown. While the lightning sheets did not, they only had criticism. In special cases with some cartoon. Unlike the bodeci, which did not require an answer, in the thunderbolts, when the person criticized by name, had to respond in a form of self-criticism. Even the bodeci criticized the person by name, but the bodeci only had a stand closed with glass, while the lightning sheets were placed in open stands, with spikes, in the center or populated areas, especially for them.
They were of large and controlled formats. Every enterprise, institution, hospital, school, had the “Emulation” stand, “Posting place for lightning sheets”, “Voice of the Mass”, etc., where the lightning sheet could be placed. Out of fear, the criticized individual did not remove it, but there have also been sporadic cases where they even tore it or removed it altogether.
Where were the famous places of lightning bolts in Tirana?
In Tirana, in the center, in front of the entrance of the Central Bank, near the taxis, the Bank-Kinostudio bus station. Attached to it was a large meteorological thermometer. Another giant one was at “21 Djetori”, as an important populated point of the capital, the sign of “Socialist Emulation”, where a large space was occupied by lightning bolts. Similarly, in Laprakë, Kinostudio, Kombinat, Kamez and in all other cities of the country. Cardboard was used and they were compiled and written by different people, with a bad handwriting, missing the aesthetic aspect, a primitive form…!
Did you tell me that a high school teacher was among the first to be criticized?
A physics professor in a high school in Tirana, who allowed girls to go to class in miniskirts, if I’m not mistaken. I say he was the first to be criticized with a sheet of lightning, for causing a stir. I heard that he lives and is outside Albania. They hit him hard, just for this fact, think about the situation he created in school, family, neighborhood, everywhere.
How was a lightning sheet formulated?
At the top of the stand, there was a template phrase taken from a speech by Enver Hoxha, which said: “Everyone, in big letters and without fear, should write what he thinks, about work and about people…”! This quote from “comrade Enver” was a taxing in every emulation center or lightning sheet stands that were located in every city of Albania at that time. Then, continued the standard entry: “To the friend…”!
And the main line: “Why you friend…”, “We ask you…”, and at the end: “We are waiting for an answer by the date…”. Revolutionary Salute, Enterprise Collective, Youth Organization… or whoever criticized it. Even artists, footballers, clubs or people for sick fans in the stadium, have been the object of criticism. “Why you dude… show sick fandom…”. And in closing: “A group of fans…”, etc.
He is answering the lightning sheets, how were they?!
That was the funniest part. The criticized, or any other subject, was obliged to react within the time limit stipulated by the lightning sheet, even thanking him. I remember a few phrases: “Answer” and below it: “I… after reading the Party’s materials… I understand the mistake… I accept the criticism, etc.,… I condemn myself… I promise to turn around and not repeat it again, etc.”! The answer, written by hand and on cardboard, was placed near the lightning sheet. When, according to the lightning-sheets, the self-criticism was not convincing, the “Lightning-sheet – Answer” exchanges continued endlessly, until, according to them, they had reached their goal.
Do you have any personal experience?
No. But that atmosphere, that detail, did not escape even the artists of the time. The screenwriter Skënder Plasari put it in the movie “Captain”, when Xha Beqos was attacked in the village, criticizing him. So, with a lightning bolt, even the old man could be criticized. There were people who refused to answer, but thought about the consequences. Or, I also remember a lightning sheet where a man was criticized for cohabiting with two women.
And, he answered: “Flatrufe, my flatrufe, I give you two old ones, give me a new one”. There was a great echo, that it did not happen that someone made fun of the lightning sheet, that is, its authors.
Mainly, what was the phenomenon that was hit the most?
Damages of socialist property were hit more, but also the fight against foreign manifestations, and the force to stop any signs or attempts of such tendencies. Wearing long hair, extravagant clothes, cowboy pants, standing in groups, even for TV antennas, who watched foreign channels and radios, read foreign books, for poor performance in lessons, non-fulfillment of norms, work problems, school absences, etc., etc., etc.
These are the years when youth groups have exploded, stopping on the street or anywhere, if they see you as a fashion-follower, especially on the beach, stadium, but also in universities, companies, etc. It was a process in which many state segments were engaged, such as the organization of the masses, starting from those of the Youth, the Democratic Front, the Professional Unions, the women’s organization, that of the War veterans, up to that of the pioneer. Memorie.al