Artists protest transformation of Tirana’s public spaces

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 28, 2016 06:25

Artists protest transformation of Tirana’s public spaces

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  • "Like never before, this exhibition has brought together artists because like never before they are being excluded from decision-making on public space issues," says Tirana-based Dutch artist Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, the curator of the "Theatre of Greening" exhibition that has opened at the FAB gallery of the University of Arts in Tirana

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TIRANA, Oct. 27 – Using art as a tool to criticize the authorities’ failure to involve citizens in decision-making on the fate of public spaces, some 50 Albanian and foreign artists have come together in Tirana to raise awareness on Tirana’s vanishing public areas in the past two decades to pave the way to high-rise apartment blocks.

“Like never before, this exhibition has brought together artists because like never before they are being excluded from decision-making on public space issues,” says Tirana-based Dutch artist Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, the curator of the “Theatre of Greening” exhibition that has opened at the FAB gallery of the University of Arts in Tirana.

Italian artist Stefano Romano describes the exhibition showcasing photography, video, sculptures and installations as a political act and revolt by artists.

“Each artwork is in essence a political act as the artist takes sides when creating an artwork,” Romano has said.

Albanian curator Ardian Isufi says the artworks also feature some important parts of Albanian identity versus the architectural and political phenomena.

“We are in transition and the society’s vanity and powerlessness versus power and the misunderstanding with the Western spirit is felt in every work,” says Isufi.

Participant artists also say it is very important that art preserves its critical nature toward public issues.

“Art should urge people to reflect upon everything surrounding us. The Sputnik posters series is a street blog inspired by real facts and transforming them into unreal situations,” says artist Ergin Zaloshnja.

“The works started in November 2013 when the ruling Socialist Party came to power with the promise that it would dedicate more attention to art and artists. This has not happened,” he told BIRN in the local Albanian service.

“We see public spaces as the only medium for constructive criticism against authorities, as the other spaces have been censored,” other participant artists say.

“Nowadays, Tirana’s urban planning seems to be dictated by the necessity of a historic arch which begins with the overlapping of the fascist axis along the boulevard and the Lana River in an organically grown Ottoman town. This radical intervention of the order was further formalized during the Socialist realism period until democracy brought the current rampant and cancerous development which now has to be put into order,” artists say.

The exhibition at the FAB gallery at Tirana’s University of Arts will be open until Nov. 1.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 28, 2016 06:25