Always Ready explores the disappearance of thousands of Chinese cardboard books used to form ideological imagery for the mass games (the Spartakiads) and the 1st of May events in Albania, both of which took place during the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Enormous gatherings of students, arranged in a pattern, held these large cardboard books over their heads, thereby forming magnificent propaganda imagery, often of factories, or fists. These gatherings and images served a dual function of inspriing and also disciplining the citizens of a terrorized and isolated nation. The books were imported from China.
According to stories of those who took part in the mass games, these books were big enough to cover a sitting child, had a minimum of ten different colour spreads, and were often too heavy for one student to hold, and so at times two were needed to hold one book. Strangely, or perhaps fittingly—given the enforced cultural amnesia that took place after Hoxha's death—there is not a single copy of these books in the national library or any of the archives.
Following the rules explained by participants who have yet to forget these events, I re-enacted a mass game in the Qemal Stafa stadium in Tirana. This book-like object was produced for that event. Its final goal is to enter The National Archive of Albania.
Hand-made and hand-bound book by Neda Firfova and Shogo Matsushiro.
All photographs by Shogo Matsushiro.