‘From Austria with love’’ – a postcard literature

‘From Austria with love’’ – a postcard literature

One of the most notable and successful activities during the Austrian cultural year in Albania, resulted to be the one of literary postcards undertitled ‘’From Austria with love.’’ This activity brought to the Albanian readers some of the most renowned

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A friend to Albania sends greetings

A friend to Albania sends greetings

A professor of German to Elmira College in New York, Carrie Hooper, sends her greetings to Albania through the Voice of America for Balkans by singing the Albanian national anthem. Hooper is a connoisseur of six foreign languages, among which

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The ‘Sleepwalkers’ of Lek Gjeloshi

The ‘Sleepwalkers’ of Lek Gjeloshi

Zeta Gallery will be organizing a solo photo exhibition by artist Lek Gjeloshi, which opens in Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m., and will remain open for the public until Jan. 10, 2019. Gjeloshi is a young emerging visual artist from

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A unique engraving portraying Albanians

A unique engraving portraying Albanians

An picture engraving by Francesco Beda from 1888 at the Museum of Oriental Art of Trieste, depicts for personages, two out which are thought to be Albanian. The engraving is called ‘The Oriental cafe of Trieste’, and portrays four men

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Austria to conduct three archeological projects

As the Austro-Hungarian contribute to Albanian archeology has met its first century old anniversary, Austrian and Albanian archeologists gathered in a round table to commemorate the contribution and discuss three new projects that will be conducted by the Austrian archeologists.

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Where is the National exhibition ‘Onufri’?

The 24th edition of the national arts exhibition ‘Onufri’ seems to have been cancelled. The exhibition was supposed to conduct an open competition on April, announce the winners on May, and then display the chosen works at the National Arts

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When light speaks through the clouds

Kalo Gallery is hosting in its spaces a photo gallery of Blanc-Goh Juat Pheng, or else known as Jannie, an artist from Singapore. The photo series is focused on the clouds over the artificial lake of Tirana, and the various

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Albania and Serbia at odds over Lute

Albania and Serbia at odds over Lute

The 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place at Port Louis from Nov. 26- Dec. 1. A list of 40 countries enlisted their nominations, seven among them named in urgent need

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Illyrian heritage found in Montenegro

Illyrian heritage found in Montenegro

The Center for Archeology of Montenegro started a preventine project in Doclea near Podgorica, one of the most important historical Montenegrin monuments. These projects started due to the archeological excavations happening there, but also after an ancient villa was destroyed

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KALO gallery promotes emerging artists

KALO gallery promotes emerging artists

Galeria Kalo is a new arts gallery in Tirana, where one can appreciate great pieces of artwork by Albanian renowned artists, including works of ambitious young modern artists, and international artists too. The mission of Galeria Kalo is not only

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                    [post_content] => One of the most notable and successful activities during the Austrian cultural year in Albania, resulted to be the one of literary postcards undertitled ‘’From Austria with love.’’ This activity brought to the Albanian readers some of the most renowned authors of modern and classical Austrian literature. 

At the framework of the 2018 Austrian cultural year in Albania, the Austrian Embassy in collaboration with Poeteka, ADD and Rauch opened in March the program ‘’Poetry Card- From Austria to Albania with Love.’’ The postcard format was chosen as Austria is known as a country which used postcards as a communications means among cultures quite early. This intercultural communications of image and text comprises a 115-years broad and rich tradition.

Poeteka restored this tradition before the Albanian public in a new format, dedicated to the promotion of cultures through literary texts, translation and reading of Austrian and Albanian authors. A special attribute was paid to the translators as communication bridge, as the readers were able to learn about authors’ portraits and biographies, and read their work in Albanian. 

Altogether with authors and readers an elaborative communication and exchange was achieved through the postcards. Works were brought in the original language too, for the connoisseurs of German. 

The first postcard to be introduced was that of a document from 1944, which celebrates the collaboration between the two countries. Among other interesting pieces were stamp portraits of authors, but especially an early 1944 publication of Rainer Maria Rilke in Albanian, translated by writer Arshi Pipa and published from ‘’Fryma’’ (Breath) literary magazine. The postcard was symbolically inaugurated on March 21, the World Poetry Day.

Besides those were also other publications such as poetry dedicated to Albania by albanologue Franc Nopsca. 

Nopsca was born at an aristocratic Austro-Hungarian family and is regarded as the one of the founders of paleobiology and Albanian studies, as well as completing the first geological map of Northern Albania. 

He studied at the Vienna university for fossilized bones and acquired a PhD in geology. He moved to the mountainous areas of Albania as having an interest in Albanian nationhood, and soon became associated with the Albanian resistance groups against the Ottomans and even smuggled weapons. After the Ottoman Empire left the Balkans, the countries separated and suffered internal conflicts, for which Albanian arose to its independence. Nopsca happen to be in the middle of it, and during the first world war he served as a spy for Austro-Hungary and at an international conference for the clarification on the status of Albania, he was a contender of the throne.

He published more than fifty scientific researches about Albania, covering linguistics, history, folklore, ethnology, the kanun (Albanian customary law), etc.. A number of his unpublished works, texts and drawings were acquired by scholar and nationalist Mid’hat Frasheri, but after Frasheri left in exile, the full Nopsca library were confiscated by the communist regime and now lays at the National Library. 

Other portraits of the postcards are those of Joseph Roth and Nopsca with Albanian traditional costumes. The literary postcards collection consists of ten authors which is precious for both cultures, unites literature, journalism, travel diaries, short prose, translator and graphic artists, the biggest part of whom have visited Albania through the literary residency program ‘’POETEKA-Tirana in Between.’’

‘’I recall my childhood and I notice how my curiosity for the foreign was awakened and how my path from north Austria to Albania was sketched. A sunny May day in the 70s I was on a cruise between Patra and Brintisi, in the naval strait between Corfu and Butrint, when I saw Albania for the first time. The shore left me an enchanting impression. Then the country for us was unobtainable, but I knew that I would later tread in that place,’’ wrote in his specially written essay artist Christian Thanhauser.

Other authors have also grasped the attention of Albanian public during this cultural exchange year between Albania and Austria. One of them is Austrian nobelist Elfriede Jelinek, whose short creative story was published in a postcard on April 23, the World Book Day. The collection was then complemented with a postcard of Austrian journalist Joseph Roth, known for his texts dedicated to Albania of the both world war periods, and who appears dressed in traditional Albanian costumes. Then, the collection was forwarded by writer and translator Ilir Ferra, born in Albania but who has established his career in Vienna and writes in German. 

Other writer and poets published as part of the project were renowned poet Georg Trakl, children’s writer Christine Nostlinger, author Andrea Grill and contemporary writers like Erwin Einzinger. 

The project ‘’From Austria with love’’ became attractive to the reader who bought the postcards from libraries, but the this activity was also extended as souvenir gifting in the art of writing. The initiative encouraged both the recognition of Austrian writer in Albania, but also the recognition of Albanian writer working in Austria, who write both in Albanian and German. 

Moreover the program ‘’From Austria to Albania with Love’’ made known the work of Albanian writers and translators who brought to the Albanian public the aforementioned Austrian writers, such as Arshi Pipa, Lindita Arapi, Admira Poci, Oriona Kraja Zylja, Majlinda Cullhaj, Lindita Komani. The successful projects of the Austrian Embassy and Poeteka will be celebrated on Dec. 14 near the youth center ‘’Arka’’ in Shkodra.
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                    [post_content] => A professor of German to Elmira College in New York, Carrie Hooper, sends her greetings to Albania through the Voice of America for Balkans by singing the Albanian national anthem. Hooper is a connoisseur of six foreign languages, among which Albanian. And the entire interview is also conducted in Albanian. 

She came in touch with Albanian language after an Albanian student signed into her Italian class. She ordered a Braille book to learn the language with the help of her student. She later on transcribed an Albanian-English dictionary into Braille for easier learning, then moved on to audio cassettes with Albanian folk tales. Afterwards Hooper took two Albanian courses at the Arizona State University, started reading articles in Albanian from her Braille computer, has a friend Tim Hendel, who records Albanian radio programs for her, and also practices her speech by talking to Albanian people on the phone.

Hooper came in touch with the Albanian community through Father Arthur Liolin, Chancellor of the Boston-based Albanian archdiocese. Hooper also sings, as she studied for music, and can also play the traditional Albanian instrument cifteli, gifted to her by Gjergj Dedvukaj, director of the ‘’Bashkimi Kombetar’’ (National Unity) Ensemble, a Cultural Arts Association, to which she is also a member. 

Hooper also has written and published a poetry book in the Albanian language, called ‘’Paintings in words.’’ The book has been promoted in New York by the Society of Albanian-American Writers, and has been published in Kosovo under the care of writer Adnan Ahmeti. 

‘’O language of Albania, the music of your words fills my spirit with joy! Your expressive words fill my heart with joy! When I hear your words, my whole being is filled with joy! Through you I have come to know a strong, brave, and courageous people, who have survived the oppression of foreign rulers and an evil dictatorship. Resound, O beloved language, no matter where your people live! May you live forever, O beautiful Albanian language!’’ has written Hooper in an article about Illyria, an Albanian-American newspaper based in New York.

Her learning of Albanian and five other foreign languages, as well as being able to teach is an inspiring story as Hooper was prematurely born by two and half months. She was held in an incubator for two months, but was left blind after she received a higher dosage of oxygen. She also teaches musical lessons and plays the piano. She expresses gratitude and a sense of luck that her district in Elmira had funds to make her schooling easier and everyone was rather helpful in her further successes. 

Hooper admires Albania and its people. She admires the love the Albanian nation feels for its country regardless of all what it has gone through, and it is precisely this sort of strength to survive for the betterment of the country that impresses her. 

‘’I am impressed by the fact that such a small country has such a long tradition, and has survived many horrible moments, experiences, has survived communist dictatorship; has always survived,’’ said Hooper. 

But adding more to it, she is impressed by the Albanian hospitality and generosity. She takes for example her experiences with the Albanian-American community at the USA. She said that whenever she has visited Albanian communions, she would always feel their love. 

‘’It is very important that for emigrating Albanians to preserve their language, teach your children your language, because without a language you don’t have an identity and without identity you don’t have a nation,’’ said Hooper in expressing a simple message to all Albanians living in immigration.

Hooper has participated in countless events organized by the community of the Albanians at the USA, in which she has hosted the events, or spoken to them in the Albanian language. She has sang and composed songs in Albanian, and has held speeches at various schools about learning the language. She has conducted interviews, and has also held presentations about Albania at the college where she teaches.
                    [post_title] => A friend to Albania sends greetings
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                    [post_content] => Zeta Gallery will be organizing a solo photo exhibition by artist Lek Gjeloshi, which opens in Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m., and will remain open for the public until Jan. 10, 2019. Gjeloshi is a young emerging visual artist from Shkodra, born in 1987.

The exhibition displays a cycle of photographs taken by a pile of negatives which the author incidentally clases with, started as a pretext to test through them an old machine for the magnification of 35mm films. The selected images through it are fragments aligned without a predestined narrative sequence. 

Attracted to the phantasmagoric dimension of the subject from screen surfaces, he starts to re-photograph them by gradually activating a double life of the images, where part of them is now already even the light screen of the projector, the traces of seniority and reflexes which stand on its surface. These photographs are inverted in digital negatives by using the usual setting offered by the mobile application. 

From this negative superposition is charged with a new atmosphere, which doesn’t refer to the information and testimony of the photograph any longer, but rather to its constant deviation, a sort of delirium or rant to that which remains in the wrapped screen from the flash veil. The superposition is made from a simple algorithmic process from which Gjeloshi derives images, called the hybrid ‘positives’. 

Thus comes to light an unknown and authorless archive. Bodies are manifested in it, liturgical rites and vague sceneries, beings that are enchanted at times, and some other times appear stuck in abeyance in a mysterious village somewhere in north Albania.

Lek Gjeloshi lives in Shkodra where he was born. He studies Visual Art at the Fine Arts Academy of Florence, from which he graduated in 2010. Other solo exhibitions of Gjeloshi include ‘’All my colours turn to Clouds’’ from 2016 in Villa Romana, Florence, and ‘’Off-Cells’’ in 2016 at the Arts Gallery of Shkodra. In 2015 he was awarded by the Shkodra Arts Gallery the Idromeno Award, and in 2016 he won the Becoming Award given for young Albanian visual artists. Since 2017 he holds the position of archive supervisor at the National Photography Museum ‘’Marubi’’ in Shkodra, and in 2018 he was an resident artist at the Residency Unlimited in New York. 

He has participated in various group exhibitions such as ‘’Ex Gratia’’ in 2018 at the Iannaccone Collection of Milano, ‘’Nuovo Cinema Masaccio’’ in 2014, ‘’Fuori posto’’ in 2013 and ‘’Lontano da dove’’ in 2012, the last three held at the Casa Masaccio and Lanfranco Baldi Foundation in Italy.
                    [post_title] => The ‘Sleepwalkers’ of Lek Gjeloshi
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                    [post_content] => An picture engraving by Francesco Beda from 1888 at the Museum of Oriental Art of Trieste, depicts for personages, two out which are thought to be Albanian. The engraving is called ‘The Oriental cafe of Trieste’, and portrays four men in the cafe, two drinking coffee, and the other two, thought to be the owner and the waiter, are listening to the conversation between the two clients. 

Why these two men drinking coffee are thought to be Albanian, is due to their outfit. One of them is wearing the traditional fustanella, a belt, vest and tasseled toupee. The other one is wearing a vest and benevrek. Fustanella is a traditional Albanian kilt worn in all regions of the country. This can be proved also by the numerous photos from the Marubi collection, which depicts Albanians from various in their traditional outfits. The kilt is a dominating piece. 

English historian George Finlay writes of the cultural appropriation of the Albanian kilt to the Ottoman Turks, Greeks and other Balkan countries, this concluded after his extensive travels in the Ottoman Empire, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, etc.. He wrote that the Albanian traditions were highly valued and imitated from the other nations. 

‘’[...] even the Turks who were influencers of the military tastes and customs, became imitators of Albanians. [...] A small sign, but noticeable, to the high position that Albanians gained were the general acceptance of their outfits. A usual thing then, in Greece and Macedonia was to see the proudest small Osmanli children wearing the fustanella or white kilt of Tosks (Note: southern Albanians are traditionally known as Tosks and northern Albanians as Gegs),’’ wrote Finlay in his diaries. 

The other conversationalist is wearing a vest and a benevrek. The benevrek is an outfit worn by the catholic citizens of Albanian from mid-19th century until 1920s. The benevreks were made from imported cotton fabric and would be sewned at tailors known as terzi. The two other persons identified potentially as the owner and the waiter are wearing Ottoman outfits, long loosened clothing and the turbans. 

The engraving conveys a mutual communication between cultures, and Albanians were at various both sides of the Adriatic Sea had a strong presence both in the Adriatic and in Levant (Asia). In 1912, about 50 percent of the foreign trade volume of the Ottoman Empire with Austro-Hungary and Trieste was conducted from Albanian regions, as the only harbor in the Adriatic. Such engravings, various artefacts and other witnessing of Albanian presence around the world could be traced in the benefit of completing the missing mosaic of our European and Mediterranean culture.
                    [post_title] =>  A unique engraving portraying Albanians
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                    [post_content] => As the Austro-Hungarian contribute to Albanian archeology has met its first century old anniversary, Austrian and Albanian archeologists gathered in a round table to commemorate the contribution and discuss three new projects that will be conducted by the Austrian archeologists. 

The first project will focus on the restoration, maintenance and archeological excavations at the castle of Kanina. The second project will be conducted at an ancient archeological site near Apollonia. The third project is the largest one and the most time-consuming, with an estimated lasting from 5-10 years, and which will take place along the river Vjosa. 

The main purpose of these projects is the promotion of Albania and its archeological treasures. 

‘’I think that Albanian will be worthily presented to Europe in this way,’’ said Sabine Ladstatter, director of Austrian Institute of Archeology. 

The excavations projects at the castle of Kanina had faced a stopping of 50 years, and now will begin again after half a century. The director of the Albanian Institute of Archeology, Luan Perzhita, said that the Albanian government will be financially contributing to these projects undertaken by the Austrian Institute. The monuments near these sites where the projects will be conducted are already known by our government, however, the partners will give us a hand with more contemporary scientific tools for diggings and safeguarding.

Perzhita said that the projects will take place at different periods of time. In the Vjosa valley a special focus will be given in conducting concise documentation regarding the studies that will take place there. The areas it will cover will be in Apollonia, Tepelena, Shushica, etc..

‘’We will examine a territory, which will give us data about what has happened between the shore and the inner areas, the passing trails, starting since the prehistoric period, 7000 years before our era, coming to the principality of Arbanon,’’ said Perzhita. 

A photo exhibition of the three areas was an additional part of this discussion. The history of Albanian archeology includes three developmental phases, the first taking place in the beginning of 19th century until 1939, a period which was dominated by foreign travelers and archeologists. The second period corresponds to the communist era  of archeology, from 1945-1990, and the third starts from 1991 until today, which takes a new phase of national archeology intertwined with foreign projects. 

The Austro-Hungarian presence in Albanian archeology, cultural and historical heritage is evident at writings from Theodor Ippen from 1900 until 1908. In the writings we find the interest shown by the monarchy at the Northern Albania, with a description of monuments, churches and residences. Ippen was also appointed consulate general for the monarchy in Albania, and was a connoisseur of our country, its areas, language and traditions. 

The second instance of Austro-Hungarian impact was from Paul Traeger Karl Patsch, who helped in raising the first National Museum in Albania in 1922. He also published in 1904 ‘’The Sandzak of Berat’’. His vast documentation of antic monuments from Berat, Myzeqe, Vlora, etc., with photographs, detailed layout and descriptions, is said to have incited the attention paid to our country from Austro-Hungary. 

A photo and documents exhibition is taking place at the National History Museum, to commemorate the ‘’100 years of archeological excavations in Albania.’’ In this exhibition, the Ambassador of Austria to Albania, Johann Sattler, returned a copy of a funerary stele found in Apollonia in the 1920s. The original piece was taken in a period of riots during the first world war, then the object was bought and exposed at the Vienna Archeology Museum, and now a copy of the piece is given back to the Museum of Apollonia, open for exhibition.
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                    [post_content] => The 24th edition of the national arts exhibition ‘Onufri’ seems to have been cancelled. The exhibition was supposed to conduct an open competition on April, announce the winners on May, and then display the chosen works at the National Arts Gallery (NAG) in the end of the corresponding year, respectively in November or December 2018. However, no such competition was declared this year and neither NAG director Erzen Shkololli, nor Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro have said anything regarding the case. 

‘’The National Arts Gallery will soon announce an explanatory account’’ is the response both the Ministry of Culture and NAG were able to say. 

This exhibition was decided from a Council of Ministers decision on Dec. 1993, and the first article of the ruling foresees that this exhibition be fulfilled annually by NAG under the care of the Ministry of Culture. The procedure happens as mentioned above, the NAG declares the opening of the competition and expects various curatorial proposals. Then the winner is declared no longer than a month later, and by June an open call for the artists is announced, so the workings of the exhibition can begin. Any changes in the rule should be approved by Kumbaro beforehand. 

The exhibition, which holds the name of 16th century renowned orthodox icon painter of Elbasan, Onufri, is according to University of Arts professor and painter Gazmend Leka, an activity of the artists. 

‘’In the mentality of the artists was the highest point, the artists saved a piece specifically for Onufri,’’ said Leka. 

This exhibition was a good national exhibition as it gave the chance to the artists to see one-another in a special work for this special annual event. However, the event started taking a more international perspective lately and according to the professor, this made the exhibition to lose its purpose. He also said that this event was supposed to be part of the Culture Ministry, however it seems that it slowly became part of NAG, the gallery itself funding the event, which Leka calls it a mistake of the director.

Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Arts, Ardian Isufi, calls this phenomenon a national tragedy, as the exhibition for him was the most important guide for the citizens to Albanian contemporary art. According to him this comes from the institutional incompetence to manage this activity that was supposed to be considered as elite, but which has slowly faded. 

This sort of situation is not the first time that it happens. According to curator Andi Tepelena, who is also a representative of the Independent Cultural Stage, three years ago it was said that the national exhibition ‘Onufri’ would be closing, however the artists denounced this decision and the Ministry decided to continue it after all. Yet, the story repeats itself and numerous renowned Albanian artists and art lovers have decided to appeal this decision not only to the Ministry and NAG, but also to the Prime Minister Edi Rama, whose previous career was that of a painter and who has also publicly boasted about this. 

Curator Tepelena said that Onufri is quite beloved for the artists and art lovers, not only as part of the tradition, but because it offered a platform for Albanian contemporary art to make itself visible to the Albanian and international public. He said that this situation is a deliberate confinement against the alternative art.

‘’All artists that are internationally renowned today have passed through it,’’ said Tepelena. ‘’I don’t understand this arrogance, this hermetic shutdown to the artistic community.’’

However concerning the issue raised by the artists, the real question that should be raised is what is happening with the National Arts Gallery. Tirana counts tens of private art galleries whose spaces are constantly used by artists or curators for exhibitions, but NAG seems to have turned a bit dysfunctional and not submitting to its real purpose. 

It seems that the national gallery has been closed to the visual art community, and artists are displaying their works elsewhere. According to art critic Ben Andoni, the gallery has represented its own interests, and only those artists who had a sort of political connection with Kumbaro would be able to exhibit there. 

Andoni claims a bigger concern however. He said that if the gallery failed to raise itself as a proper arts institution during the Rama ruling, who has publicly boasted about his artistic career, then perhaps the national gallery might never be successful to its full potential, and be thus a failure. 

This is interesting, as even though the PM is not directly linked to the institution, he has raised the Center for Openness and Discussion in which various exhibitions are held, both for Albanian artists, but also from international ones. But COD isn’t exactly the proper place Albanian artists are looking for. 

The artists, but also Tirana itself, are looking for a proper institution to exhibit, a tangible arts gallery, which director Shkololli has failed to reciprocate, according to Andoni. He hasn’t achieved any real plans for the gallery, and isn’t holding up to citizens expectations for a cultural institution. Added to that the anticipated ‘Onufri’ exhibition is most probably canceled. 

Andoni appeals the raising the building of the National Arts Gallery as a proper cultural institution that allows a safe space for artists to show themselves, and which thus allows a vast creative spectrum for Albanian contemporary art to develop. On the other hand, artists are appealing for ‘Onufri’ to continue as an artistic tradition.
                    [post_title] => Where is the National exhibition ‘Onufri’?
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                    [post_content] =>  IMG-9126 

Kalo Gallery is hosting in its spaces a photo gallery of Blanc-Goh Juat Pheng, or else known as Jannie, an artist from Singapore. The photo series is focused on the clouds over the artificial lake of Tirana, and the various lighting and colors they grasp throughout the day, creating an emotional movement and amazing scenery.

‘’When the power of light speaks through the cloud, our perception of the environment changes. Each captured moment is unique. This exhibition displays images from the magnificent work of the creator of the universe. The nature is metamorphosed with the contrast of colors,’’ said artist Jannie.

 

The exhibition is a collection of 24 photos taken from various spots of the park surrounding the lake, and at different times during the day. Except expressing her love for nature, calling it her ‘’warhorse’’, Jannie tried to communicate great detail of the scenery that the naked eyes sometimes fails to see, for example how the clouds can throw light, just being a mirror for the sun.

IMG-9128

After having worked for many years in the banking industry, Blanc-Goh Juat Pheng (Jannie), has been traveling across many countries with her family. She also lived in many of those counties, like Singapore, Australia, France, China, Vietnam, currently residing in Albania.

 

During her travelings she learn to experience and appreciate many different beautiful cultures and places. Learning through these experiences, she started submitting to the hobbies and pastimes of painting, photography and writing encouraging spiritual notes.

 

While on such travels, she noticed how the sun, the oceans, clouds, waters, trees, lakes, rain, storms, how the nature speaks to us through its unique language. Being amazed by such a communication and having an artist’s mind and soul, she tried to capture interesting moments of such communication with her close friend, the camera.

IMG-9123

 

The exhibition opened at Kalo Gallery on Dec. 5, 2018, and will remain open until Dec. 9. 

 
                    [post_title] => When light speaks through the clouds
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                    [post_date] => 2018-12-05 14:56:13
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                    [post_content] => The 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place at Port Louis from Nov. 26- Dec. 1. A list of 40 countries enlisted their nominations, seven among them named in urgent need for safeguarding. Among the 40 countries were also Serbia with its nomination of ‘’Singing to the accompaniment of the Gusle.’’ 

Gusle is a bowed stringed (one to three strings) instrument which is used to accompany the singing of epic poetry and folklore. It is held vertically, rested between the knees while the hands create the music. This is a largely used instrument in Balkans for singing heroic songs. Gusle in Albania is known as lahuta (lute), a traditional instrument widely used by the North of Albania. There is also a book called ‘’Lahuta e Malcis’’ (The Highmountain Lute) written by renowned Gjergj Fishta, poet, educator, politician, franciscan. 

Some media in Albania panicked over this news and rushed to write that UNESCO has already declared the lute or gusle as a Serbian instrument, meaning that the lute is not Albanian after all. However, Serbia has merely nominated in safeguarding the practice of singing using the gusle.

In one of the paperworks of its application to the UNESCO, the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information, after having explained what the gusle is and its used practice, also added that ‘’this archaic form of folk art promotes the highest ethical values, the importance of kinship and the homogeneity of the community, and it is also a blend of the community's historical memory and traditional music skills. The communities that practice it consider it the most representative element of their identity. Singing to the accompaniment of the gusle, as part of both performing arts and oral tradition, is present in the entire territory of Serbia. However, its practice is more pronounced in the western and central parts of Serbia and in Vojvodina.’’

This nomination is still under consideration by UNESCO. To this news also reacted Albanian Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro in correcting the false allegations made so far.

‘’No decision has been made and in no case did the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage claim, as it is falsely said in media, that the ‘lute is not Albanian, but Serbian’,’’ said Kumbaro in a media announcement.

In a paperwork for its application, Serbia claims that communities and groups concerned of this practice of ‘’singing to the accompaniment of the gusle is an element of the living cultural practice of a significant number of local communities in Serbia whose members identify themselves ethnically as Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosniaks, Albanians, and confessionally as Orthodox Christians and Muslims.’’ 

Even in a section below regarding the geographical range the practice includes, it writes that ‘’the geocultural zones where singing to the accompaniment of the gusle is part of living cultural practices do not coincide with administrative borders and the practice can also be found in some areas of the neighboring countries (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Croatia), as well as in the Diaspora.’’

So, in no case did Serbia claim that the gusle or lute is a Serbian instrument, but it is merely claiming the practice of singing with a gusle as a Serbian intangible heritage. Yet, it does not deny that this practice is spread among other Balkan countries, thus making it a Balkan tradition. 

For the origins of the gusle itself exists no clear consensus, as it is not clear where the instrument came from. In Albania however, the instrument cifteli is far more spread than the practice of the lute. The Albanian Ministry of Culture said that it is in contact with the respective Montenegrin Ministry, so more South-Eastern European countries can be included in this process of safeguarding the cultural instrument. 

Academic and musicologist Vasil Tole also reacted to this news with some more insights. He said that the Serbian gusle has some minor changes from the Albanian lute, however, the important note is that Serbia has successfully submitted its epos at UNESCO, and this should serve in encouraging our country’s institutions in working better for registering our epos as an intangible heritage.

‘’Naturally Serbs registered their part, but that doesn’t mean that the door to register our own epos and lute to UNESCO is closed for us. It is a heritage present in both nations, but we claim that it is earlier in our regions, according to studies made by various foreign albanologues and scholars,’’ said Tole regarding the situation. 

He added that the lute is a Balkan instrument, however, where the case lies is registering the various works and eposes made for singing along with the instrument, which are a cultural heritage to each nation that has a tradition of singing with a lute. Tole has been part of the team preparing the documentations for submitting the Albanian epos and lahuta to UNESCO as an intangible heritage.  

The documentation work started eight years ago by a team raised from the Ministry of Culture. Within a year from when the work started, the team decided that except the Epos of the Braves, in the documentation would also be included the lute, the towers in which the epos would be sang, and the traditional outfit xhubleta. 

The Albanian Academy of Sciences said two years ago in an optimistic declaration that the documentation consisting of five thousand explanatory pages, entitled ‘’The Albanian Epos of the Brave in five countries of Balkans,’’ was ready. The documentation was conducted by Prof. Dr. Zymer Neziri, Prof. Vasil Tole, and Prof. Dr. Shaban Sinani. However, it seems that the file has been stuck since due to failed lobbying from the Albanian Ministry of Culture and that of the Foreign Affairs.

You can download the Serbian application document from UNESCO here: 38970-EN 

And you can check the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia for singing with the gusle by pressing in the link.

 

Note: an update was made to the article to add the words and insights made by Prof. Vasil Tole concerning the case.
                    [post_title] => Albania and Serbia at odds over Lute
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                    [post_content] => The Center for Archeology of Montenegro started a preventine project in Doclea near Podgorica, one of the most important historical Montenegrin monuments. These projects started due to the archeological excavations happening there, but also after an ancient villa was destroyed while building the railway passing nearby.

During the excavations multiple Illyrian temples were found, speaking of the ancient Illyrian tribe Docleati from whom the city’s name derives. The Docleati are said to have had this territory as their own, and thus built the ancient city. While this was already known, archeologists have claimed that more proofs of the Illyrian presence resurfaced during the excavations.

‘’This area has an obvious antiquity where various ancient cultures are intertwined,’’ said Milos Zivanovich, an archeologist from the Center for Archeology who has made extensive studies on Doclea and its history. 

Regarding a natural perspective, Doclea is on a raised hill platform which allows a protection. The city was fortified by a surrounding wall built with stone blocks, from which the excavations have started. The stone walls are able to tell their age which date as back as the fourth century BCE. 

‘’The purpose of these excavations is discovering the sight of the city and the discovery of the major urbanistic changes that have happened through various eras in the city of Doclea,’’ said Zivanovich. 

The foundation of the city is related to the Roman effort to urbanize the newly established province of Dalmatia in the beginning of the first century CE. Doclea was named after the Illyrian tribe Docleati on which territory it was built. It soon turns into an important trading center and receives the status of municipium during the Flavian Age along with other Dalmatian cities. Romans enforced the city’s protection through mighty two-and-a-half meter thick walls, towers, battlements and fortified bridges across the rivers. It also flourishes as a capital city of the Late Roman province of Praevalitana (third - fifth century CE).

For Doclea has written historian Pliny the Elder from first century CE, and geographer from second century CE, Ptolemy, who have had close contact with this Illyrian civilization heritage. Archeologists have also found other ancient cities in Montenegro which are considered as a huge discovery concerning the existence of the Illyrian Empire in these territories. 

To the local team of archeologists were also joined a group from Warsaw, who from 2000 have conducted studies in the city of Risan in Montenegro and that have found ruins of monumental Illyrian buildings and ancient coins. According to the archeologists these are the first findings of the kind in the area of Illyria who might belong to the Illyrian King Ballaios and Queen Teuta of the tribe Ardiaei. 

 
                    [post_title] => Illyrian heritage found in Montenegro
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                    [post_date] => 2018-11-30 11:37:52
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                    [post_content] => Galeria Kalo is a new arts gallery in Tirana, where one can appreciate great pieces of artwork by Albanian renowned artists, including works of ambitious young modern artists, and international artists too. The mission of Galeria Kalo is not only in promoting art and artists, but more in giving its contribution in educating the society, especially the youth, with the art values and improvement of fine arts legal framework, and the establishment of an art market in Albania. 

The Gallery promotes visual art through exhibitions of artworks which are sponsored and supported by various entities, mainly from the Fondacioni Kalo (Kalo Foundation). 

The foundation was founded in 2014 by Përparim Kalo to support art and artists in Albania and across its borders, by building bridges between artists, collectors, galleries, museums and any other relevant institutions supporting art. It has a board of trustees consisting of Ardjana Kalo, Eni Kalo and Juna Kalo and is managed by Ardjana Kalo as Executive Director.

The exhibitions are also supported by Kalo & Associates law firm, and foundation partners such as the Australian, Austrian, German, Swiss and other Embassies, Alpha Bank, Vodafone, Tirana Business Park, Societe Generale, New York University of Tirana, AK-Invest, Tirana Bank, Union Bank, etc.. 

The works displayed come from owned collection, either from the foundation or private persons, from other galleries, both national and international, and from the artists themselves, Albanian or foreign. The special focus the gallery has is on inclusive art, newly emerging artists, and recycled art. 

The personal collection names hundreds of artists, both foreign and Albanian, and the Albanian artists are contemporary artists, and also from the Socialist Realism period. 

This last quarter of 2018, the Kalo gallery has hosted a few interesting exhibitions, choosing to close the year with renowned Albanian artists that chose to conquer and break traditional styles of painting. 

Sept. 2018 displayed Ilir Pojani’s ‘’Exploring the Invisible’’. Pojani was an alluring painter in Tirana during early ‘90s, and also served as professor of the Arts Academy (today University of Arts). He has been living in USA for 20 years now, however, his paintings still hold a mysterious abstractionism and impressionism.

‘’Discovering the Invisible’’ was named after the artist’s interest in the human existentialism, its mysteries and how he can visualize the transcendence of its forms.  

His new work permeates an inspiration from classical art and its magnificence, thus averting from pure abstractionism, but imposing a sort of meta-modern transcendence to the classic pieces. He invites his followers to give some attention to classical art, just like himself, but most notably what the European Renaissance did with classic art from the antiquity.

The paintings had a striking feeling, filled with the inseparable lines of blue and red, with some hints of yellow and green. The portraits had vivid, big eyes, almost animated. The faces were somehow clear, yet masked underneath layers and layers of paint, which gives an impression of the hundreds of shades of colors human have, and the spiritual fluctuation each of us faces daily.

The second exhibitions was ‘’Stories on Wood’’ by University of Arts professor and renowned artist Gazmend Leka. He has sealed his mastership by using a unique approach when telling stories about life and death. His preferred themes about Eva and Adam, Centaur and Minotaur, Crusaders, Kings and Queens, Pyramids, Pharaohs and Sarcophagus, Icarus, are told through symbols and metaphoric compositions.

Most of the stories depicted in this exhibition were affixed on canvas, but a great number were painted on wood and therefore had a different appearance from normal paintings on canvas. Leka’s style is distinct by the coordination of colors, where semi-darkness is predominant, but significant light shines from inside. 

The third exhibition were a personal one from Leon Cika, a contemporary artist who works with painting and photography. This personal exhibition was a set of paintings dedicated to his granddaughter Alysse, by whom he was inspired to produce the work. The main theme of the work is centered around flowers, their depiction in various, strong colors, and love.

Finally, the gallery is participating in the project ‘’Procesi’’ (Process), an artistic and cultural event organized by the Faculty of Fine Arts. This event combines the creative and pedagogical process with the scientific one, through symposiums, workshops and open discussions on the issues of art and teaching. This framework will give a chance of participation not only to the academic staff which are focused on the scientific research, but also to the alumni of the University of Arts and other ex students who are continuing their studies in other institutions. 

In this edition we have chosen to honor the world-known photographer Gjon Mili. Inspired by a series of photos he created in 1949, we choose the word “Process” for this event, considering that the creative process is the basic element in the artistic and scientific activity. Besides the optimal space provided by FAB Gallery, we decided to create a wider operational dynamic by collaborating with “Kalo Gallery” and “Zeta Gallery”. A wide program of events from this cultural activity can be found in the galleries, which will take place from Nov. 26 until Dec. 16, 2018.

In Kalo Gallery will be held a lecture by Dr. Ermir Hoxha on Dec. 4, who will give an historical perspective of Albanian photographers in America. 

 
                    [post_title] => KALO gallery promotes emerging artists
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            [post_content] => One of the most notable and successful activities during the Austrian cultural year in Albania, resulted to be the one of literary postcards undertitled ‘’From Austria with love.’’ This activity brought to the Albanian readers some of the most renowned authors of modern and classical Austrian literature. 

At the framework of the 2018 Austrian cultural year in Albania, the Austrian Embassy in collaboration with Poeteka, ADD and Rauch opened in March the program ‘’Poetry Card- From Austria to Albania with Love.’’ The postcard format was chosen as Austria is known as a country which used postcards as a communications means among cultures quite early. This intercultural communications of image and text comprises a 115-years broad and rich tradition.

Poeteka restored this tradition before the Albanian public in a new format, dedicated to the promotion of cultures through literary texts, translation and reading of Austrian and Albanian authors. A special attribute was paid to the translators as communication bridge, as the readers were able to learn about authors’ portraits and biographies, and read their work in Albanian. 

Altogether with authors and readers an elaborative communication and exchange was achieved through the postcards. Works were brought in the original language too, for the connoisseurs of German. 

The first postcard to be introduced was that of a document from 1944, which celebrates the collaboration between the two countries. Among other interesting pieces were stamp portraits of authors, but especially an early 1944 publication of Rainer Maria Rilke in Albanian, translated by writer Arshi Pipa and published from ‘’Fryma’’ (Breath) literary magazine. The postcard was symbolically inaugurated on March 21, the World Poetry Day.

Besides those were also other publications such as poetry dedicated to Albania by albanologue Franc Nopsca. 

Nopsca was born at an aristocratic Austro-Hungarian family and is regarded as the one of the founders of paleobiology and Albanian studies, as well as completing the first geological map of Northern Albania. 

He studied at the Vienna university for fossilized bones and acquired a PhD in geology. He moved to the mountainous areas of Albania as having an interest in Albanian nationhood, and soon became associated with the Albanian resistance groups against the Ottomans and even smuggled weapons. After the Ottoman Empire left the Balkans, the countries separated and suffered internal conflicts, for which Albanian arose to its independence. Nopsca happen to be in the middle of it, and during the first world war he served as a spy for Austro-Hungary and at an international conference for the clarification on the status of Albania, he was a contender of the throne.

He published more than fifty scientific researches about Albania, covering linguistics, history, folklore, ethnology, the kanun (Albanian customary law), etc.. A number of his unpublished works, texts and drawings were acquired by scholar and nationalist Mid’hat Frasheri, but after Frasheri left in exile, the full Nopsca library were confiscated by the communist regime and now lays at the National Library. 

Other portraits of the postcards are those of Joseph Roth and Nopsca with Albanian traditional costumes. The literary postcards collection consists of ten authors which is precious for both cultures, unites literature, journalism, travel diaries, short prose, translator and graphic artists, the biggest part of whom have visited Albania through the literary residency program ‘’POETEKA-Tirana in Between.’’

‘’I recall my childhood and I notice how my curiosity for the foreign was awakened and how my path from north Austria to Albania was sketched. A sunny May day in the 70s I was on a cruise between Patra and Brintisi, in the naval strait between Corfu and Butrint, when I saw Albania for the first time. The shore left me an enchanting impression. Then the country for us was unobtainable, but I knew that I would later tread in that place,’’ wrote in his specially written essay artist Christian Thanhauser.

Other authors have also grasped the attention of Albanian public during this cultural exchange year between Albania and Austria. One of them is Austrian nobelist Elfriede Jelinek, whose short creative story was published in a postcard on April 23, the World Book Day. The collection was then complemented with a postcard of Austrian journalist Joseph Roth, known for his texts dedicated to Albania of the both world war periods, and who appears dressed in traditional Albanian costumes. Then, the collection was forwarded by writer and translator Ilir Ferra, born in Albania but who has established his career in Vienna and writes in German. 

Other writer and poets published as part of the project were renowned poet Georg Trakl, children’s writer Christine Nostlinger, author Andrea Grill and contemporary writers like Erwin Einzinger. 

The project ‘’From Austria with love’’ became attractive to the reader who bought the postcards from libraries, but the this activity was also extended as souvenir gifting in the art of writing. The initiative encouraged both the recognition of Austrian writer in Albania, but also the recognition of Albanian writer working in Austria, who write both in Albanian and German. 

Moreover the program ‘’From Austria to Albania with Love’’ made known the work of Albanian writers and translators who brought to the Albanian public the aforementioned Austrian writers, such as Arshi Pipa, Lindita Arapi, Admira Poci, Oriona Kraja Zylja, Majlinda Cullhaj, Lindita Komani. The successful projects of the Austrian Embassy and Poeteka will be celebrated on Dec. 14 near the youth center ‘’Arka’’ in Shkodra.
            [post_title] => ‘From Austria with love’’ - a postcard literature 
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            [category_parent] => 0
        )

    [queried_object_id] => 31
    [post__not_in] => Array
        (
        )

)

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