The video installation Lali/Diana is about sacrifice and pride. It shows ‘a silent portrait’ of the dying phenomenon ‘sworn virgin’ (Burnesha in Albanese) in patriarchal Northern Albania. This is an area where communities live according to the Kanun, a traditional 15th century code of honour, which dictates that most social privileges apply only to men. A ‘sworn virgin’ is a girl/young woman who takes an oath or vow of chastity in consultation with and in the presence of the community and her family and then goes through life as a boy/man. This way, a family without a son can be prevented from losing all its land. Simultaneously, the ‘sworn virgin’ acquires the same privileges a man has in these communities.
photographer Auke van der Hoek 2016