International school students portray Albania’s national hero in creative light

International school students portray Albania’s national hero in creative light

TIRANA, April 19 – Under the guidance of their art teachers, foreign and Albanian students ranging from first to twelfth grade contributed in the artistic event calendar built around Skanderbeg’s Year to put together an art exhibition portraying the country’s

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Kalo Gallery to participate in Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Fair

Kalo Gallery to participate in Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Fair

TIRANA, April 19 – This year, Kalo Gallery was invited to represent Albanian art in Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Fair, among an unprecedented collection of local and international original contemporary art. The Albanian booth will exhibit works from Albanian and Kosovo

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Tirana’s first high school drama clubs exhibit talent on National Theatre stage

Tirana’s first high school drama clubs exhibit talent on National Theatre stage

TIRANA, April 5 – In the context of the Education Through Culture project, 50 high-schooler actors, from all over Tirana’s suburbs to its most central Blloku area, and more than 3000 spectators filled the National Theatre stage through the newly-founded

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Tirana Art Lab to exhibit Double Feature #9 with Gabriele Rendina Cattani & Ilir Lluka

Tirana Art Lab to exhibit Double Feature #9 with Gabriele Rendina Cattani & Ilir Lluka

TIRANA, April 4 – Double Feature #9 will bring together the audio-visual work of Italian artist Gabriele Rendina Cattani and Albanian artist Ilir Lluka from April 21 until June 2. Both artists are primarily composers of contemporary electronic music, for

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Albania urged to define originality, uniqueness in new cultural strategy

Albania urged to define originality, uniqueness in new cultural strategy

TIRANA, April 5 – Albania has yet to define its originality and what the country is standing for in the concert of nations, a Council of Europe-commissioned report says as Albania is drafting a new cultural strategy. “Quality tourism requires

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Albanian renowned tenor returns for Strauss operetta Die Fledermaus

Albanian renowned tenor returns for Strauss operetta Die Fledermaus

TIRANA, March 29 – The internationally known Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu will return to Tirana this week for the debut of Johann Strauss’ operetta Die Fledermaus on March 31 at the Palace of Congresses. The special event is taking place

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Albania’s Voskopoja churches make it to Europe’s 7 most endangered heritage sites

Albania’s Voskopoja churches make it to Europe’s 7 most endangered heritage sites

TIRANA, March 15 – The post-Byzantine churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuq, southeastern Albania, have made it to Europe’s seven most endangered heritage sites for 2018, in a ranking that helps mobilize support for one of Albania’s landmark heritage sites. The

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Summer Day has thousands visiting Tirana, Elbasan to celebrate the end of winter

Summer Day has thousands visiting Tirana, Elbasan to celebrate the end of winter

TIRANA, March 14 – The annual pagan holiday celebrating the official end of winter nationwide – Summer Day – had thousands flocking the capital and the city of Elbasan on Wednesday despite the cloudy weather conditions. Elbasan, in central Albania, is the

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PM Rama’s new National Theater project draws criticism

PM Rama’s new National Theater project draws criticism

TIRANA, March 14 – Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama presented on Monday the new National Theater construction project, despite protests by actors and citizens in February over the government’s plans to tear down the historical building and give part of

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Colors and Shapes exhibition at Kalo Gallery

Colors and Shapes exhibition at Kalo Gallery

TIRANA, March 1 – Kalo Gallery is artistically inaugurating March by bringing the Colors and Shapes exhibition to the audience. The exhibition, which features works by Erina Bektashi, will remain open until March 12. Bektashi is an example of Kalo’s

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, April 19 - Under the guidance of their art teachers, foreign and Albanian students ranging from first to twelfth grade contributed in the artistic event calendar built around Skanderbeg’s Year to put together an art exhibition portraying the country’s heroic figure in different artistic styles. 

The student exhibition, which was open to the public for two days starting April 17, was hosted by the Tirana Youth Center and came as the result of two weeks of work in various disciplines such as visual art, history and literature. 

[caption id="attachment_136714" align="alignright" width="300"]IMG_9881 Detail: Skanderbeg's horse[/caption]

Among the artwork displayed were three-dimensional portraits of Skanderbeg executed in various styles and methods, installations combining photography conveying historical information, original student poems and even fashion designs using modern elements in the context of traditional Skanderbeg period costumes. 

The tour, offered by the students themselves in both Albanian and English, began with classical representations of Skanderbeg and ended with a cubist, Picasso-inspired, black and white conceptualization of the hero on a bright yellow background that was hard to believe was the result of a student’s work.

The diversity of Skanderbeg’s portrayals celebrated the hero in many different lights - some classically depicted him as a liberator, some were visualizations of his valued items, such as his sword and helmet, or locations traditionally related to him, while others sought to educate by conveying unpopular stories and information. 

“Have you ever seen this view? It’s beautiful and it has a great story behind it. During the Ottoman occupation, after Kruja was invaded, 90 Kruja girls and women came here and, in order to escape the Turks, fell from this rock at 200 meters height,” said Gisela Meça, an eleventh-grade student who under the orientation of art teachers Ervin Dauti and Eris Bushati helped bring the exhibition alive.

Among the events brought to the public in light of Skanderbeg Year, the thought put behind the students’ artworks has so far made this exhibition a highlight of the activities. 

“In Turkish, Skanderbeg means Leader Alexander, so I put the sun behind him to express that. There’s also the albanian motifs surrounding him here in the sides, and the eagle on the side...well, legend says he saw an eagle that inspired him in his dream, so I decided to include that,” Atis Kazaferi, another grade 12 student, said. 

[caption id="attachment_136716" align="alignleft" width="300"]IMG_9900 Skanderberg and fashion designs[/caption]

With few first-grade-students’ poems cut in half, Skanderberg’s beards colored in different colors by third-graders and fashion designs made by nails, wool and plastic, the World Academy of Tirana offered the kind of emerging youth art the capital has been long missing. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, April 19 - This year, Kalo Gallery was invited to represent Albanian art in Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Fair, among an unprecedented collection of local and international original contemporary art. 

The Albanian booth will exhibit works from Albanian and Kosovo artists, as well as paintings made by German, Slovenian and American artists under the theme of convergence and hope. 

Art Vancouver is a prestigious international art fair which features a diverse selection of art, from paintings and sculptures to installations and mixed media. 

[caption id="attachment_136711" align="alignright" width="237"]Shkelqim Kokonozi Shkelqim Kokonozi[/caption]

Some of the many contemporary artists that will be represented by Kalo gallery at the fair are Artan Dracini, Eros Dibra, Fabio Thaci, Ilir Pojani, Jon Kraja, Julius Eb, Lucka Koscak, Shkelqim Kokonozi and Viktor Ferraj. 

Kalo Gallery came to life on Nov. 12, 2014, and has managed to establish a reputation for itself ever since. 

Albanian lawyer Perparim Kalo had begun collecting artworks as a hobby, until he decided to institutionalize his collection and present the public with a spot for art appreciation and promotion.

He was further inspired and even gained contributions from artists and gallery owners he met from his travels around Europe and the world. 

Seeing that many collectors focused on promoting artwork by fellow patriots and supported by his family, Kalo set out to create what has become one of the most vibrant art spots in Tirana.

During its years as an artistic institution, Kalo Gallery has organized and hosted exhibitions focusing on inclusive art, as well as has made sure to support young emerging artists, persons with special abilities, recycling and green art, etc.

In the context of revitalizing Albania’s art scene, Kalo Gallery cooperates with the Kalo Foundation, the country’s Ministry of Culture and a number of embassies to Albania to organize and finance its exhibitions, as well as by participating in a number of international art fairs in Slovenia, France, the Netherlands, Greece, the US and, as of late, Canada.

In line with its role as an artistic contributor, Kalo Gallery also tries to contribute to educating society, and especially the youth, by fostering artistic values and improving the fine arts’ legal framework and the country’s art market. 

The exhibition put together by the gallery will be open in Vancouver from April 19 until April 22, which is also the last day of the fair. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, April 5 - In the context of the Education Through Culture project, 50 high-schooler actors, from all over Tirana’s suburbs to its most central Blloku area, and more than 3000 spectators filled the National Theatre stage through the newly-founded drama clubs in Tirana’s high schools.

It was the first time the National Theatre, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, organized the TK-RIN ART 2018 Theatre Festival during the last days of March, enabling students to express what they had been practicing on in an arena filled with talent, ideas and youth energy.

During the five festival days, capital youth watched amid standing ovations the shows prepared by drama club actors - the crowning results of intense, month-old, theoretical and practical work with students from the Sami Frasheri, Harry Fultz, Sander Prosi, Petro Nini Luarasi, Abdulla Keta and Ismail Qemali high schools. 

The project’s artistic directors - Armand Bora and Gjergj Mena - created a drama club for its high school and, together with a professional young director for each school, went through auditions and selected the most talented actors to perform.

Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro said this is a pilot project expected to be implemented on a national level next year, based on its success. 

Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj participated in the award distribution ceremony, thanking the event’s organizers for thinking of something that doesn’t just add value to the city’s cultural life, but also educates the youth.

“The fact that for the first time so much attention is paid to the youth, that everyone is doing a bit more than what their duty requires to give back to the new generation of Albanians, be it in this theatre or another stage, deserves all the respect and gratitude,” Veliaj said.

Students put on stage literary works from global and Albanian renowned authors such as Bertolt Brecht, Ismail Kadare, Carlo Goldoni, Eduardo de Filippo and Federico Garcia Lorca, while other students were also trained in other theater sectors such as direction, screenplay-writing, costumography, make-up artists, as well as special theatre audio-visual training from National Theatre employees.

Three awards were distributed for Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Theater Play, which was won by Petro Nini Luarasi High School. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, April 4 - Double Feature #9 will bring together the audio-visual work of Italian artist Gabriele Rendina Cattani and Albanian artist Ilir Lluka from April 21 until June 2. 

Both artists are primarily composers of contemporary electronic music, for “whom dealing with sound is a way to explore the limits of music in connections with image, language, space and perception.”

Their audio-visual tracks are born using field records and reality-based elements, but they’re experimental and at times abstract too, while aiming to challenge and change the viewers’ reality perception and comprehension.

Double Feature #9 will be hosted at the Tirana Art Lab, which brings the event in cooperation with the Italian Culture Institute Tirana.  The exhibition, which will be open Wednesday to Saturday from 4-8pm, is curated by Adela Demetja.

About the artists

Gabriele Rendina Cattani, born in Rome, in 1990, is an Italian artist who predominantly makes soundtracks: immersive computer generated compositions focused on limits and boundaries of a digital sound environment, and how it could influence our memory and our surrounding comprehension. Cattani, studied from 2011 to 2016 Music Composition at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia Rome and at Institute for Music Research, Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado Milano, Italy. He holds a double Master in Fine Arts and Music Theory from Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs and E.H.E.S.S. Paris, France.

Ilir Lluka, born  in Tirana, in 1984, is an audiovisual artist and electronic music composer from Tirana, Albania, active in the field of drone, experimental music. While his academic studies were developed outside of arts (majored in political sciences and international relations at University “Nostra Signora Del Buon Consiglio” in Tirana), Lluka studied on his own the techniques of sound design and synthesis in their academic and practical level. He is also author of several software synthesizers, some of which are available for public use.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, April 5 - Albania has yet to define its originality and what the country is standing for in the concert of nations, a Council of Europe-commissioned report says as Albania is drafting a new cultural strategy.

“Quality tourism requires a different unique experience for a place to be distinctive and generate different types of services and experiences. Albania should characterize its cultural offer to highlight the uniqueness of the place and its people,” says the report.

Albania has dozens of cultural heritage sites dating back from ancient Illyria, Albania’s predecessor and a mix of ancient Roman, Greek and Ottoman civilizations. Three sites, the cities of Gjirokastra, Berat and the Butrint archaeological park have been inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage site. Albanian iso-polyphony, a sophisticated form of group singing performed mostly by men in southern Albania, is also recognized by UNESCO as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

“Importantly, there is the opportunity for the Ministry of Culture to help define what makes Albania unique and therefore contribute in setting a narrative that includes culture as the main factor that characterizes the country. This important work will help raise awareness on the importance of culture in societal development and put the Culture Ministry in a position to be a resource for authorities to manage Albania as a territory of destination considering the priority given to tourism,” says the Council of Europe-commissioned report.

Philippe Kern, an expert from Brussels-based consultancy firm who drafted the report, says the culture strategy is also about supporting the development of narrative that highlights the country’s cultural specificities and how its cultural resources contribute to diversity.

“The challenge is to make use of the country’s past, cultural, political and religious assets to build a future that is inclusive, and serves as an example to neighbouring countries whether in the Balkans or across the Mediterranean,” he says.

Another challenge relates to the positioning of the government and Albanian municipalities on promoting the emergence of a creative economy largely stemming from cultural and artistic education and practices.

“Few local policy makers seem to be aware of the potential of culture for economic and social development. It is important to raise awareness on the potential of culture and creative industries in local context. This will help mobilise important resources to monitor implementation of heritage policy for instance (protection of sites) but also to raise funding alongside the State budget,” says the strategy.

The report suggests the cultural policy strategy should be developed with a view to access EU funding considering that Albania has only managed to attract a modest €855,000 to heritage projects in Apolonia, Butrint and Lezha so far.

“One of the main challenges in relation to cultural policy is to modernize the cultural institutions by adapting them to function under a market economy, with new forms of cultural consumptions, budgetary constraints, the need to internationalize and network as well as to mobilize alternative sources of funding (investors in Albania have yet to be mobilised to support art and culture). The appetite for cultural investment and cultural consumption is to be strengthened and regulation should make investment in the cultural sector by private investors as attractive as possible,” says the report.

In its newly proposed bill on cultural heritage and museums, the government can also sign public private partnerships on the management and revitalization of heritage sites, something that has triggered concern among heritage experts.

Albania’s Culture Ministry has a small budget of €13 million representing less than 0.3 percent of the national budget and an administration with 90 members of staff, probably the leanest cultural administration in Europe, says the report.

Albania had some 670,000 visitors, a considerable part of whom foreigners, to museums, castles and monuments as well as archaeological parks in 2017, according to state statistical institute, INSTAT.

Albanian authorities have also drafted a new five-year strategy on tourism with the goal of turning the emerging sector into a key driver of sustainable development that can employ one out of three people by 2027.

However, the Albanian Tour Operators Association, one of the key market stakeholders, argues the tourism sector cannot develop without standards and a clear and concrete vision.

Closed to tourists for about five decades until the early 1990s, Albania offers a miscellaneous picture of coastal and mountain tourism and cultural heritage.

The communist past is what fascinates most tourists about Albania, which was cut off from the rest of the world under a Stalinist dictatorship for about five decades until the early 1990s.

The House of Leaves museum of the notorious Sigurimi police surveillance in downtown Tirana, a Cold War bunker outside the capital city that the former communist regime had built underground decades ago to survive a possible nuclear attack and the Sazan Island military base south of the country all house the mystery and phobia of the country’s communist leaders for about five decades until the early 1990s.

 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 29 - The internationally known Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu will return to Tirana this week for the debut of Johann Strauss’ operetta Die Fledermaus on March 31 at the Palace of Congresses. 

The special event is taking place in the context of the Albania-Austria cultural year 2018 activities which was launched in February based on the motto Rediscovering Common Things and organized in cooperation with the Austrian Embassy to Tirana.

This impressive musical production will bring on stage some of the country’s best artists, along with renowned ballet dancers, choreographers and directors. 

Conductor of the opera will be Lazlo Gyuker, and the show will be ongoing until April 3.

The opera, meaning The Bat, revolves around Falke who, while midnight is approaching, is entertaining his guests with the story of how he earned the nickname of Dr. Fledermaus: one drunken evening, when he was dressed as a bat for a costume ball, his best friend Eisenstein played a practical joke on him that made him the laughing joke of Vienna.

Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu, on the other hand, figures among the brightest stars in today’s international operatic firmament and has been celebrated at every major international operatic venue.

As for the Albania-Austria cultural year 2018, a calendar of activities has been introduced since last month with a very specific goal, which is creating a stable medium that will register the common perspective of the countries not by simply keeping the memory of those participating in this event, but also by providing an idea starting point for further cooperation.      

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_136194" align="alignright" width="300"]voskopoja 2 Voskopoja church. Photos: Europa Nostra[/caption]

TIRANA, March 15 - The post-Byzantine churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuq, southeastern Albania, have made it to Europe's seven most endangered heritage sites for 2018, in a ranking that helps mobilize support for one of Albania's landmark heritage sites.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Gjirokastra, southern Albania, was also shortlisted among the 12 most endangered sites but did not make it to the top seven.

Albania's 17th and 18th century post-Byzantine churches made the list because of “war, plundering and natural disasters having seriously damaged this group of 12 churches,” says Netherlands-based Europa Nostra, a leading European heritage organization.

“The listed Church of Saint George in Voskopoja, which won a Europa Nostra Award in 2011 for its outstanding conservation, now faces the threat of theft and highlights the urgency with which these remarkable churches need to be protected," the watchdog says.

The historic centre of Vienna, the Constanta Casino in Romania, the Prinkipo Greek orphanage on Princes’ Islands in Turkey, and the Grimsby ice factory in the United Kingdom were among the other sites to make it to the seven most endangered list.

The multidisciplinary Europa Nostra-led teams visiting the endangered sites are expected to provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilise wide support to save these heritage landmarks as well as formulate feasible action plans for the listed sites by the end of the year.

“This newest list of 7 Most Endangered comprises rare treasures of Europe’s cultural heritage that are in danger of being lost. The local communities are deeply committed to preserving these important examples of our shared heritage but need broader European support. I therefore call on local, regional, national and European stakeholders, both public and private, to join forces to secure a viable future for these sites,” said Plácido Domingo, the President of Europa Nostra.

Architect Kliti Kallamata, the managing director of the Korça-based “Past for the Future” foundation that submitted the nomination for the Voskopoja and Vithkuq post-Byzantine churches, southeastern Albania, has blamed decades-long neglect that the public administration has shown toward the monuments by carrying out only emergency interventions with no strategic multidisciplinary restoration project.

“These monuments face a lot of problems starting with moisture, the degradation of mural paintings, the static stabilization of complicated structures, the approach toward degraded and ruined architectural elements, lack of lighting and protection against theft and lots of other stuff,” Kallamata has earlier said, adding that the last interventions date back to the mid-1960s under communist just before Albania banned religion.

“If the post-Byzantine Voskopoja and Vithkuq churches are included in Europe’s 2018 seven most endangered programme, we will have the right assistance to conserve and restore them under contemporary professionalism and later introduce them to the public,” he said as the Voskopoja churches made it to the 12 most endangered sites last Janaury.

Back in 2013, the landmark ancient Roman amphitheater of Durres also made it to the Europa Nosta Seven Most Endangered List, mobilizing a rehabilitation project that involved the demolition of several residential structures and the complete uncovering of its arena.

 

Post-Byzantine churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuq

voskopoja 3A number of Post-Byzantine churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuq, situated in southeastern Albania, are the most representative monuments of 17th-18th century ecclesiastical art in the Balkans and are masterpieces of the post-Byzantine style. War, plundering and natural disasters have seriously damaged this group of 12 churches. The surrounding Christian population has greatly declined and a subsequent lack of clergy has resulted in the majority of the churches remaining unused for most of the year. The main threat now is the total negligence by those administratively responsible for the churches at the national level, namely the Institute of Cultural Monuments. The listed Church of Saint George in Voskopoja, which won a Europa Nostra Award in 2011 for its outstanding conservation, faces the threat of theft and highlights the urgency with which these remarkable churches need to be protected. The nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018 was submitted by “The Past for the Future” Foundation. (Description made on Europa Nostra list).
                    [post_title] => Albania's Voskopoja churches make it to Europe’s 7 most endangered heritage sites
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                    [post_date] => 2018-03-14 14:21:03
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 14 - The annual pagan holiday celebrating the official end of winter nationwide - Summer Day - had thousands flocking the capital and the city of Elbasan on Wednesday despite the cloudy weather conditions. 

Elbasan, in central Albania, is the origin city of the Summer Day celebration, attracting people from close-by villages and towns to enjoy the sunlight and the ballokum - the characteristic Summer Day cookie that has become the city’s specialty. Tirana attracts thousands more, as it has become a tradition for the capital to celebrate with a tight schedule of cultural activities. 

This year, celebrations started from Summer Day’s eve in Elbasan, with a big music concert in the city’s center and separate family celebrations which included bonfires and big dinners that were followed on Wednesday by different art fairs.

In Tirana, Summer Day was inaugurated by DJs making music in the Artificial Lake area, elementary school children carnival parades, open air shows in cooperation with the Albanian Aeronautic Federation and the National Kosovo-Albania pilots’ fleet, live music concerts by some of the most renowned Albanian artists both in the Deshmoret e Kombit boulevard and in front of the pyramid. For Tirana’s youth, different contemporary music festivals were organized to take place in the hottest city spots.

“We’ve had a day packed with activities. I want to wish everyone a happy season, when we are together we can do miracles. I wish we continue to build Tirana despite internal debates, and be more positive and cooperative,” Tirana’s mayor Erion Veliaj told the media for Summer Day. 

dita e veres 2

 The country’s President Ilir Meta also wished the country a joyful holiday  in  a Facebook post, saying he hopes for the spring colors and sounds to  revitalize optimism and hope in families and each other’s hearts. 

 Until a decade ago, Summer Day was mostly an Elbasan celebration.

 Approved by the Albanian Parliament in 2004 as an official and national   holiday, this day of pagan celebration symbolized the rebirth of nature, the   awakening from a long dark winter and a general rejuvenation of one’s   spirit.

 The celebration of Summer’s Day dates back to ancient times in the city of Elbasan, which due in part to its location in the geographic center of the country, was considered the umbilical city for all of Albania.

According to an Albanian legend, the Mountain Muse, who was the goddess of hunting, forests and all things related to nature, would usher in summer by coming out of her temple on the 14th of March.

While thousands of people still rush to Elbasan, where he holiday originates, celebrations in Tirana are becoming even bigger since Summer’s Day was announced a national holiday. 

 
                    [post_title] => Summer Day has thousands visiting Tirana, Elbasan to celebrate the end of winter
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 14 - Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama presented on Monday the new National Theater construction project, despite protests by actors and citizens in February over the government’s plans to tear down the historical building and give part of its land to private companies to build private buildings in order to raise funds.

The new theater is designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and it has already been criticized for looking like a 2011 proposal of Forma Architects for the Busan Opera House of South Korea.

Analysts have also commented on Rama’s relation with BIG going back to when Rama was Tirana’s mayor and held an architecture contest for a mosque in Tirana which BIG won but was never realized.

For the National Theater, however, Rama did not declare a contest or set up space for public debate, but is rather planning to approve a new law that will allow construction on public property.

During the project presentation at the Centre for Openness and Dialogue, Rama argued it is “impossible” to renovate the theater originally built under the Italian occupation and that it is instead better to spend on a public-private partnership (PPP) with companies involved in government tenders.

At the end of his speech, Rama said he would pass a “special law” in the Albanian parliament for the project’s construction, even though it is unprecedented that another construction project in Tirana had to pass through the parliament. 

Analysts have said the reason Rama needs to do this is because construction for the National Theater lies on the most costly piece of land in Tirana, currently owned by Tirana’s municipality but intended to be of little service to the general public - as the National Theatre’s project occupies only half of the surface - and more as the space for the construction of a high-rise apartment/shopping complex.

Private construction on public property, however, is illegal, and the decision to expropriate the land can only be taken by the Municipal Council currently caught in political disarray.

For this reason, analysts have said, Rama’s plan to construct the project through a new law passed by a parliament the majority of which he control is undemocratic, to say the least.

BIG, on the other hand, has said the construction will provide Albanians with a much needed meeting space. 

“Our design for the new National Theater of Albania will continue the city’s effort for making Tirana’s public spaces more inviting and its public institutions more transparent,” said Bjarke Ingels in a public statement. 

 
                    [post_title] => PM Rama’s new National Theater project draws criticism 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 1 - Kalo Gallery is artistically inaugurating March by bringing the Colors and Shapes exhibition to the audience. The exhibition, which features works by Erina Bektashi, will remain open until March 12. 

Bektashi is an example of Kalo’s inclusive art policy, which counters the monopoly of painting for a few selected and renowned artists to all those who feel like picking up a brush and expressing their view of the world.

The artist, a young but brave girl, one day bougha a canvas and colors and began combining and coordinating shapes and paints to produce magnificent results.

As she has told Kalo Gallery, she wanted to paint many things, portraits, trees, human figures, landscapes - with a wide heart and vast imagination - but as she could only do one, she spontaneously focused on colors.

The exhibition’s title is inspired by Bektashi’s art, which consists of creating geometric shapes, and painting them. 

Kalo Gallery curators say Bektashi might not be an artist by background, but she is an artist by soul, given the way she beautiful way she can convey colors and shapes to the audience.

Kalo Gallery has maintained a position of support towards unknown and emerging artists and has engaged in promoting their art as much as possible. 

In this context, the gallery also invites the audience to express their views on every hosted exhibition and make suggestions on how to improve their content and reach out to all art admirers. 

 
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, April 19 - Under the guidance of their art teachers, foreign and Albanian students ranging from first to twelfth grade contributed in the artistic event calendar built around Skanderbeg’s Year to put together an art exhibition portraying the country’s heroic figure in different artistic styles. 

The student exhibition, which was open to the public for two days starting April 17, was hosted by the Tirana Youth Center and came as the result of two weeks of work in various disciplines such as visual art, history and literature. 

[caption id="attachment_136714" align="alignright" width="300"]IMG_9881 Detail: Skanderbeg's horse[/caption]

Among the artwork displayed were three-dimensional portraits of Skanderbeg executed in various styles and methods, installations combining photography conveying historical information, original student poems and even fashion designs using modern elements in the context of traditional Skanderbeg period costumes. 

The tour, offered by the students themselves in both Albanian and English, began with classical representations of Skanderbeg and ended with a cubist, Picasso-inspired, black and white conceptualization of the hero on a bright yellow background that was hard to believe was the result of a student’s work.

The diversity of Skanderbeg’s portrayals celebrated the hero in many different lights - some classically depicted him as a liberator, some were visualizations of his valued items, such as his sword and helmet, or locations traditionally related to him, while others sought to educate by conveying unpopular stories and information. 

“Have you ever seen this view? It’s beautiful and it has a great story behind it. During the Ottoman occupation, after Kruja was invaded, 90 Kruja girls and women came here and, in order to escape the Turks, fell from this rock at 200 meters height,” said Gisela Meça, an eleventh-grade student who under the orientation of art teachers Ervin Dauti and Eris Bushati helped bring the exhibition alive.

Among the events brought to the public in light of Skanderbeg Year, the thought put behind the students’ artworks has so far made this exhibition a highlight of the activities. 

“In Turkish, Skanderbeg means Leader Alexander, so I put the sun behind him to express that. There’s also the albanian motifs surrounding him here in the sides, and the eagle on the side...well, legend says he saw an eagle that inspired him in his dream, so I decided to include that,” Atis Kazaferi, another grade 12 student, said. 

[caption id="attachment_136716" align="alignleft" width="300"]IMG_9900 Skanderberg and fashion designs[/caption]

With few first-grade-students’ poems cut in half, Skanderberg’s beards colored in different colors by third-graders and fashion designs made by nails, wool and plastic, the World Academy of Tirana offered the kind of emerging youth art the capital has been long missing. 

 
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