The Magic of the Everyday
A story of pain and love for humans
The journey of the artist Afrim Hajrullahu is a meticulous story of the photographer who combined the spheres of art, history and reportage with powerful feelings from the artist, in a journey of discovery, entirely self-made, with indifference to any form of recognition or acceptance. The purpose of his photography is not to impress critics, artists or other photographers. The goal was, and remains, to find personal meaning in one’s life, and in this search he immersed himself very deeply in the journey and transformation of society, which he witnesses and records with passion. Even when the topics allude to attitudes in the name of social justice, freedom and peace, the entire photographic work of Afrim Hajrullahu is presented with a real sensitivity for humans, not only as “plankton”. Even when the drama may be collective, the experience remains personal.
Challenged with the question, how can photography document the world and also function as a creative medium, in the early 90’s of the last century, Afrim Hajrullahu investigates the social function of photography, studies the aesthetic qualities of the photographic image and firmly believes that the photography possess everything to be an ideal medium for creative expression, among other visual arts. It treats photography (even documentary) as an art form and photographic art as a document, and almost in every image, you can find both: the aesthetic qualities of the image depicted with strong emotional responses, and historical-social-political aspects of photography. In this spirit, very often, everything turns into a style with a clear break from the past “aesthetics” and the constant doubts of the “art world” about photography being equal to painting and sculpture.
Let’s take a look once again at the art of the photographer Afrim Hajrullahu. His attitude is to show the beautiful and the difficult side of the life of contemporaries, more than the sides of contemporary life. The photographic images are theatrically stylized, recording what particular (sub) cultures in society live unexposed, on the margins and/or in plain sight out of public view. He touches on issues that require some form of correction or political action and by recording and re-presenting these images, they take on the potential of a powerful metaphor, to give positive meaning to the reconstruction of the material and moral values of the individual and society.
Recording the silent aesthetics (even in dramatic situations) of everyday life, the photograph possess a chilling “sharpness” that is as clear and strong in image presentation as it is soft in technique, thus giving the audience a sense of personal involvement, visually non-abstract but open to interpretation. His work covers topics such as “mass exodus” or “lifestyle”, fascinating, between landscapes (urban and natural) and people, without pretense or sentimentality, Hajrullahu continues to use the landscape only as a background for his stories. The attentive and intimate images behind the urban-social-cultural myth are taken within the Kosovar country, environment, events and culture, but are essentially universal and presented at an easy-to-understand level.
Although the subject matter can sometimes be mundane (even when it’s a war sequence), these images have the right potential to help us better understand that moment and our moment. However, for a deeper understanding and reading of these images, you need a much more specific cultural context, as well as the reasons why the object, subject or background depicted in the photograph is there, or why a particular individual is being presented in this way, etc.
Reading the urban symbols (living environment) and the interaction of the characters with the political and socio-cultural events in the artistic work of the photographer Afrim Hajrullahu are vital, because they make it possible to learn more about the place, the society, the subject and the period of the story and finally about the main theme (which in most cases is the human drama). His work is always open to interpretation, and asks more questions than answers. Even when he treats war as a very complex social phenomenon, which largely includes all social, economic and political life, even though he is a witness to this phenomenon, Hajrullahu is careful to trace the cultural-political and socio-economic precedents, alluding to social echoes that (may) bring the conflict and essentially the echoes of the war and the reconstruction of destroyed lives.
He treats the characters (of an often marginalized group in society) with dignity and respect. Showing the loneliness, the smile, the pain, sometimes the degradation or the construction, it highlights the strength of the personality that still exists, without pathos or gloom, even when the drama of life has imposed its own scenario. It records the current moment and the lives of the contemporaries by offering, through images, a raw and poetic narrative of truths and personal perspectives. These images feel dramatic, reflective, almost staged, as if asking the reader to accept them as quiet, humble comments with beautiful patience, challenging the boundaries between the acceptance of the ordinary course of life and optimistic attitude to survive.
The transition from the life scene itself to experiencing it as a snapshot and the photographic image as a bridge to connect realities is both cultural information and culture itself.
Afrim Hajrullahu’s photographs are an important part of Kosovo’s audio-visual heritage.