Regarding the last exhibition Prova of Adrian Paci at The National Gallery of Arts in Tirana, at the end of the post, I wrote:
To conclude, in Paci’s National Gallery showcased works one is always in front of an art of ideas and never in front of an idea of arts, always in front of an idea expressed through a medium or media and never in front of an idea of medium or media. In other words, in front of the endless prove of consumerist reproduction and commodification of art, which more than with the aesthetic of arts has to do with anesthetic policies.
Recently, at TheNational Gallery of Arts in Tirana is open the new exhibition: Tirana Patience, curated by Nataša Ilić and Adam Szymczyk. According to the curators the idea is to open the paintings collection of socialist realism (actually it is written “realist socialist”, which I hope is the rough Albanian version given to the reader by the notary that The National Gallery payed for the “professional” translation) on which contemporary artists will act by performing or discussing with the public. In other words, according the curators, the idea is “not to exhibit/display the works, but to temporarily withdraw the artworks of the past from view of the visitors” (I am freely translating the Albanian version of the text).
I have not seen the exhibition. But do I need to see it? Do I need to visit The National Gallery of Arts directed by Edi(p) Rama’s nominated director Erzen Shkololli and judge afterwords the anesthetic artistic and cultural policies of the fascistoid regime installed in Albania? Do I need to visit the exhibition where the text’s concepts (I feel generous to call these bullshitting “concepts”) are clearly anesthetic (Tirana Patience, so to say “Tirana, do not act, stay at home and reflect, maybe reading Edi Rama’s and Ardian Klosi’s Refleksione or George Soros’ Theory of Reflexivity” … or just entertain yourself by playing patience game/solitaire)? Do I need to visit The National Gallery of Arts to understand that Nataša Ilić and Adam Szymczyk, if not two illiterates of the context, are just two contemporary art prostitutes prostituting their status as foreign curators – supposed as acknowledged – and sold to the – supposed ignorant of arts and contemporary art – Albanians, as usually is done in our contemporary version of panem et circenses way of governing? Do I need to visit Tirana Patience to see, once more, how the arts and artists, with or without their will (lucky the dead ones, that cannot see what is done to them and their works!!!), are prostituted? Do I need to visit the exhibition to see how Intervista of Anri Sala will be interpreted, again and again and again, through pseudo-Freudian lenses of unconscious repression and not through a correct translation of the Albanian and discover than the “hand” of the “mama’s wunderkind” but also of the French art professors that know very well the contemporary art market needs? Do I need to see the displayed and dis-covered artworks by the contemporary artists to understand that the same lenses will be used even in this exhibition, where enough is never enough when it comes to the reactionary exoticisation of “communism era” covered by the left-washing critical passwords such as “post-truth”, “neoliberism”, “paved ways of democracies”, “social and political revolutions”, and so on and so forth?
Actually the answer of these questions is obviously rhetoric. But fortunately in Albania there is art circulating, but out of the institutions. It circulates on the walls, intended as facades of buildings and social media profiles (sounds restrictive, limited and even ridicule, but the regime have already erased every other possibility for free art expression). One of these is the so-called campaign of some activists against one of the so-called Albanian oligarchs, which is not more than an ordinary mafia criminal that has made is fortune through money laundry, corruption of politicians as well as exploitation of workers. His name is Samir Mane, connected with Edi Rama’s government, but also with the former government of Sali Berisha.
The Facebook page Bojkoto Samir Manen, calling to boycott all the products of Mane’s companies, was created. Yet, even Mane’s payed slaves entered in action, erasing the writings.
This erasures brought me in mind a work of 2014 with Sead Kazanxhiu, Erasure … We Would Prefer Emilo Isgrò, where me and Sead were destroying and erasing with “big bold strokes”, like Edi Rama, the children’s artistic creations. Unfortunately, time passes, and our provocative action does not seem any more as such, but sicks to the real wound of our reality.
But not only. All these actions of writing and erasing brought me in mind, as some others followers of the Bojkoto Samir Manen Facebook Page also noticed, even a cartoon from the state socialism period. It is titled ParrullaV.F.L.P. (The Slogan: Death to Fascism, Freedom to the People), with author my late friend Gëzim Qëndro, when he was a creative and still not an art critic.
And again these actions project me to Lacan and the concept of littoral (in Lituraterre) when the psychoanalyst reading Edgar Allan Poe plays in a Joycean phonetic manner with the letter, litteral and littoral, with the coast+line or the border of the subjectivization. In other words, there where the art is taking place, where its aesthetics are challenged in their becoming by decodification and recodification. As the reader can imagine we are talking about the other pole of the prostitutional anesthetics of The National Gallery of Arts.
To conclude, I should add that this article it is not to show how prophetic I have been by anticipating The National Gallery of Arts anesthetics artistic and cultural policies, which were punctually materialized through Tirana Patience concepts. This article is to stress even more the cognitive influence of the capitalism that produces shitty persons, artists, politicians, societies as well as environment. Just take a look of these picture of Samir Mane and a caricature of a capitalist by Mayakovsky (it was also quoted somewhere in the page of Bojkoto Samir Manen, which I cannot find … however, Chapeau to the person who did it!). Is this a prototype of the capitalist? How could Mayakovsky figure Mane 100 years ago?
And please check what Mane Trade Construction Investments produces. Below you see the green periphery of Tirana and Mane’s urban and architectural intervention made of a complex of luxury (kitschy) villas.
Rolling Hills Luxury Residencies it is not ironic at all. In this territorial and environment consuming gut is self-barricaded le crèm de la crème of the Albanian new money bourgeoisie. Even in this case the cognitive effects of capitalism are visible.
So, this article is written to make people somehow realize all the signals we are daily facing. And not only visual signals. All the Albanians know that Sali Berisha stands behind the deaths of the tragedy of Gërdec, Ilir Meta behind the deaths of 21 January as well as Edi Rama behind the large part of deaths of the last earthquake when people were left in damaged and unsafe houses. Therefore, it is not anymore time for metaphors and posting bullets (as the case of Armando Lulaj), but, quoting Mayakovsky, “[i]t’s high time for bullets to tinkle across museum walls” and make feel not the reality but the real to the prostitutes of the politics and arts in Albania and/or visiting Albania.
Me and Neoliberalism. In March 2017, with some French and international friends, I was involved in a project regarding monumentalisation, art and power. My ignorance regarding the French elections, happening in the same period, was almost embarrassing, but in the middle of an animated discussion, regarding the way Hollonde and Le Pen (according the polls and survays the two leading pre-elections candidates) were conducting their campaigns, I interfered with saying that the more neoliberal of all the candidates, the more apparently empty in terms of ideology, was Macron and for this reason I thought he will be the winner of the French elections. I did not know how distant was Macron in the polls/surveys before the elections, but was a lot behind Le Pen and Hollonde. I sustained my thoughts by saying that I was coming from the avant-garde laboratory of neoliberalism, so I was somehow “talking to them from the future” (Any occasion is good to show my modesty!).
With my friends, experts of the Balkan region, I had some other exchanges regarding the neoliberalism and its more advanced challenging laboratory: Bosnia and Herzegovina. I said that for me, somewhat connected with Bosnian war for familial reasons, it would be better dealing with Serbians killing Bosnians and Albanians or vice-versa, rather than installation of neoliberal states in Bosnia & Herzegovina, or Balkans in general. Because I see the ancestral ethnic hate of the region (it is good to remember that every hate has its love counterpart), an ethnic hate with which I and Balkan people are “used to”, or at least know “how to deal with”, I see it as a sort of barrier against neoliberalism. With this last, it is different. The neoliberalism transforms and deforms anthropologically all the social and cultural relations (that unite Balkan and its people), domesticating the human and its bios towards self+consumerism as an end in itself.
I do not know if I explained myself or just shocked my interlocutors. However I think there are still few studies regarding the neoliberalism and especially its effects, which I think, when done, will mitigate the shock of my thoughts regarding better living with Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian killers killing each other rather than dealing with neoliberalism as a unique alternative for any State. We’ll see.
Balkan’s mini-Schengenand geopolitics. Few days ago, in Tirana, was held a meeting between the representatives of Albania (Edi Rama), Montenegro (Milo Đukanović), Serbia (Aleksandar Vučić) and Northern Macedonia (Zoran Zaev), regarding the so-called Western Balkans mini-Schengen, a free trade zone, from which Kosova, bordering in the middle of these countries, is self-excluded. The main reasons for the Kasovars self-exclusion are not fully economic, but has to do mainly with the lack of Serbian recognition of Kosova as an independent state and above all with the Aleksandar Vučić genocide denial of Kosova’s war in 1999.
Unexpectedly, regarding Edi(p) Rama’s actions, I saw a lot of stupor in Kosova’s media and social meida. This stupor is turning gradually in various level of pity, refusal, hate, etc., against Rama.
The reason of this reaction is because of the ignorance and ignoring the geopolitics, political representative figures like those we in Balkans have, and the laboratory of neoliberalism.
Let’s try to clarify some things.
Months ago Edi(p) Rama was pro and supporting the exchange of territories between Serbia and Kosova, a territorial exchange ethnically based, on which Kosova’s President Hashim Thaçi and Serbia’s homologue Aleksandar Vučić were talking during several meetings. Only the resistance of Kosovars in Kosova and Serbians in Serbia and part of their political representatives (by the way all claiming the territories as parts of the country they belong) as well as the subsequent intervention of Merkel impeded the factual exchange. The exchange was, not openly, but supported by the US and pushed further, openly, by Mogherini, EU Foreign Affairs higher representative.
The risk was, once more, to make Kosova a laboratory for the future, as in the case of military intervention of 1999, which justified the wars in Iraq, Syria, and so on. In this case, in the future, we could have seen some political representatives of states, “supported” by the geopolitical powers, exchange, sell or donate territories based on ethnicity. And all done by their “initiatives”, so reconfirming the “independence of the states” and the worldwide “democracy”. In other words, open doors to racism and creation of pure ethnic states … there is an urgent need of literacy on what was the ideal form of states according nazi-fascists.
What is most impressive in all this debate is the ignorance circulating in media and public opinion. Nobody sees that some shitty politicians like the Albanians, Serbians, Kosovars ones, think that have the power (really!?!?!?) to exchange territories, to intervene strategically in the geopolitical map, a luxury reserved only to the superpowers like US, Russia, China and no one else. This luxury it is not reserved neither to sates like Germany, France or Italy, which can only, with the permission of the US, have a voice in the tactical development of their interests and influence within the territories under US control.
Considering that, for the moment, the issue of territorial exchange was left behind. The next issue, mini-Schengen, or the mantra “neoliberalism above all”, even above your memories, victims, blood, rapes, came out: the above-mentioned meeting between Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Northern Macedonia with Kosova self-excluded.
The public debates regarding these meetings are centered around the Albanian politics and politicians, which are not taking (at all or enough) in considerations the Kosova’s interests in this situation, as if the Albania was a sort of mother or father. Actually I am surprised how the people are still willing of paternalism. But soon it will come again, not in the form of a State, motherland or fatherland, but in the form of a still hierarchic, familar, Oedipal system.
Neoliberalism: what is this, beyond boring theorization? To explain neoliberalism in few lines, especially for Kosovars that do not know Edi(p) Rama, is better to make the example of George Soros.
In other words, just as in the case of George Soros saving his life and making money by confiscating goods to Jewish people, during Second World War, the Kosovars and Balkan people should go beyond and erase their terrible memories, without elaborating anything, just making business “as in the market”, because “someone else will do it”. No matter that even more Kosovars, Albanians, and Serbians, will die every day, as slaves of neoliberalism, because of course never misses someone else that will have to do it, someone that will have to make money on memories, victims, blood. We’ll see.
La prostituée du boulevard de Clichy et l’inspecteur qui la surveille ont tous les deux de mauvais souliers et tous les deux ont mal aux pieds d’avoir arpenté des kilomètres de bitume.
Prelude. Etymologically the “Boulevard/Bulwerk”, a Dutch term, in XIV Century, entered in French language meaning: a “bastion, walls of fortification (the flat walkway over the top of the bastion)”, a word connected with defensive militarization and control of political power; and later “a large city road, promenade”, indicating an urban space for the spectacular circulation of objects (commodities) and subjects (people).
The semantic transition, from a bastion to a promenade, occurred during Le Roi Soleil Louis XIV, when the old bastions of Paris, after the construction of the new ones in a larger perimeter, were erased to make space for a wide tree-lined promenade.
During my research on this topic, I found significant that the first examples of the boulevards as urban dispositive of political power control appeared almost in the same period: in Paris within Haussmann’s renovation in 1853, and Vienna “by the will” of Kaiser Franz Joseph in 1857, transforming the old fortification walls in Ringstrasse, demonstrating in this manner the “will of openness and democratic dialogue”.
In addition, the boulevard is also a clear imperialistic political gesture, in terms of urban space, which delineates the subjectivization of a changing regime of power and governmentality. Following the Lacanian reading, to have a subject there must be “the trace”, walls/fortification in this case, “the erasure of the trace”, transformation of fortification in boulevard, and “marking of the erasure”, monumentalization of the boulevard.
In fact, three points need to be distinguished: the trace, the erasure of the trace and the marking of the erasure. It is at this level that the signifier arises and the subject emerges.
PETTIGREW, David and François RAFFOUL. 1996. Disseminating Lacan. Albany, NY.: State University of New York Press, p.39.
This process can also be considered as a new governmentality (Foucault), changing from the societies of discipline to the societies of control (Deleuze Gilles, Postscript on the Societies of Control, October, vol. 59, Winter 1992, pp. 3-7, The MIT Press). This governmentality and this control become more clear when, in its support, a full state apparatus is revealed, made of financial institutions, laws, construction mega-companies, famous architects/artists.
And last, but not least, to complete this picture, the representational aspects of the political power gesture are almost always represented faithfully by the formal aspects of arts (urban planning, architecture, sculpture/monument), reproducing altogether or at least one of the following aspects: a) the alignment with the boulevard, b) the verticality of urban objects (architectures, monuments) c) hermeticism/closure sense emanated by these objects.
Therefore, it is with Haussmann’s urban interventions in Paris (1853) and transformation of Vienna’s bastions in Ring Strasse (1857) that the boulevard’s double signification, from one side, conceptually, evidenced the “twofold nature of capitalism” and “formation of [its] sovereignty” (Deleuze/Guattari – Anti-Oedipus); and, from the other side, historically, “the change of regime and governmentality”, from despotic absolutism to enlightened despotism. In other words, seems like the Ancien Régime, after the Congress of Vienna, to “tolerate the bourgeoisie” to participate in political power and prevent further revolutionary atrocities and nationalism, by erasing the bastions, tried to demonstrate openness and democratic dialogue with its subjects, and, by constructing spectacular boulevards, to codify and control their consumption and circulation.
Since then, the boulevard marks and mirrors the change of regime and governmentality of political powers, with all its related political power discourse, the bureaucratic procedures, the organized rationality by defining, shaping, guiding and affecting people and their conduct in the city space, which make the boulevard a perfect dispositive to measure the social pressure and control of political power regimes.
Helsinki’s boulevardisation. In 2015 Helsinki’s Urban Plan was drafted by the Urban Environment Division of the Municipality. The first out of ten themes of the draft regarded “densification”, which was justified under the pretext of “increasing of the population” caused by the arrivals of “migrants”. The main urban tools used for the densification were “city boulevards”. Simultaneously the Urban Environment Division released another document, “City Boulevards in Helsinki”, where appeared an unusual term, namely “boulevardisation”.
In 2017 the plan was approved.
However, two problems can be noticed. Firstly, there is no information and deep analyses on Finnish tradition of “densification/boulevardisation” and the perception of the Finns regarding “densification/boulevardization”. Secondly, the participation of the migrants in public hearings and other platforms for public participation, being them the main reason that justified the densification and “boulevardisation”, until now, it is unknown.
So, what is Helsinki’s “boulevardisation”? In what type of “boulevard” is based? Following the etymology, to have a “boulevard” there must be an erasure. What is being erased though? At the beginning, after the Congress of Vienna, the boulevards were a sort of consequence of the decision of the Ancien Régime to tolerate the lower bourgeois class to participate in political power and avoid in this manner the nationalism. In this regard, is there any connection between this approach and the decision of Helsinki’s Municipality to densify and boulevardize because of the migrants? Moreover, to resist against the boulevardistation is somehow connected with nationalism and the resistance against the migration? Regarding the governmentality, what are the mechanisms of management and administration (work processes, procedures, rules, laws), as well as the ways of classifying individuals or groups (by income, nationality, and professional categories), which allow power institutions – in this case Helsinki Municipality/Urban Environment Division and Migratin Office – for their identification, classification, ordering, and control? And last, but not least, what are the similarities and differences in terms of representational aspects of art displayed in urban and public space of boulevard?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I am living in Finland, Espoo near Helsinki, from May of this year. I have never seen a city with more open construction sites in the same time as Helsinki. And I am coming from Tirana … In Tirana there is a lot of mafia and money laundry supported by the government. I do not know very well the Helsinki’s context, but there are a lot of signs that things are not much better. Yet, what most impresses me is the passivity of “Finns” towards this urban development booming. And, without knowing why, I feel like “something is rotten in the state of … Finland”.
There is a web pop-up that reminds me this feeling … and Pacific (1967) of David Alexander Colville.
Adrian Paci’s exhibition Prova, at The Albanian National Gallery of Arts, is held in the framework of director’s (Erzen Shkololli) institutional policies. In other words, as it is required to a government nominated director, the exhibition is held to promote a florescent and vivid Albanian artistic context during “Edi Rama’s time” (just quoting Anri Sala), the time of Renaissance (Rilindje, in Albanian, a worldwide christologic term and patriotic related with the Albanian independence movement, which is the pompous name given by Edi Rama to his government, that has in its focus the patronage of art and artists, where, of course, the patron comes first … please check this one man show during the presentation of the Albanian Pavilion of Venice Biennial of Architecture 2014 at London AA School of Architecture in 2015 link). Yet, according these policies, no Albanian acute and actual pressing problems should be evidenced, because the promotion, as every marketing student knows in this age of cognitive capitalism, can be – God forbid – compromised in its shiny emanating lustrousity. Maybe, just a little, but always through illustrative and glossy representations, respecting and following the formal contemporary art curating canons, to make happy the self-critical spirit as well as the homologated aesthetics of the bourgeoisie that frequents these kind of exhibitions. And, of course, what can be better than blurry, pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-philosophical artistic strategy of “universalizing the Albanian context” and making it “global”, as the curator Adam Budak suggests to the reader of Prova throughout the exhibition’s text.
This kind of exhibition and these kind of artists (Adrian Paci, Edi Hila, Flaka Haliti to mention some of them promoted by the Gallery) serve to connect the Albanian public contemporary art institutions context with the neoliberal art system, led by a globalist, stateless, apparently apolitical, and post-bourgeois class, that measures everything in terms of consumption and profit, where everything and everyone is a consumable commodity for those in power, respecting and following the laws of a pyramidal hierarchy. And these artists are very happy with it, providing, through the commodification of the art, the system’s basic raw materials.
Reading exhibition’s curatorial text one could think that Adrian Paci is somewhat a deeply politically engaged artist. Prova is the “artist’s most mature and radical gesture of a political nature, expressing the urgency to take action and indicating the willingness to perform the civic responsibility”, says the curator. However, the author confuses the political gesture of the artist with Edi Rama’s Party/Renaissance gesture (see Edi Rama’s mantra “political action with colors” and his choice selecting Adrian Paci to evangelize through “a lecture” the Albanian Ambassadors in 2016).
The concepts like “Arendtian space of appearance” are totally deviating and inarticulate in their consistency. In this case the author, Budak, by using the word “appearance” (key word, in my opinion, but of a different kind, which I will try to explain below), wanted to make it more intellectually catchy and added “Arendtian space”, the relation of which with Paci’s work remain shrown in mystery. The same could be said regarding Paci’s painting of an “ethical subject at the moment of becoming and transition”, a pseudo-philosophical concept, which contradicts the “mise-en-scène” (term used by Budak, another key word in Paci’s work, but with different connotations in my opinion) that Paci always does. This means that, if we are spectator of a mise-en-scène, than there is no ethical subject at the moment of becoming, but only a pose, a mimic, a simulation of becoming (see also the men posing, as requested by their author/director/Paci, in the video Prova).
This contradiction in Budak’s text reappears again where the curator wants to evidence Paci’s scene:
“Paci’s scene has a quality of an ancient drama: we are spectators in the theatre of quasi-heroic gesture, on the ruins of enlightenment where the grand recit of morality are staged with pathos and splendor.”
This mishmash between ancient drama and quasi-heroic gesture (which is self-explained, because if we consider quasi-heroic the ancient drama, than what is heroic?) is further confused with morality, pathos and splendor (a refreshing of Nietzschean The Birth of Tragedy is needed, and, if it is not too much and hard to digest, followed by On the Genealogy of Morality of the same author). In addition, the grand recit, the syntagmatic expression which should bring in our minds Lyotard (?) and the Postmodern Condition(?), sounds, firstly, more like a strategy of the curator to highlight the philosophic concepts behind the artist’s work, and, secondly, a strategy of the artists, not to eliminate the hero (see this topic on the work of Lyotard), but to change his place, from the stage to the backstage, where the famous and worldwide known author/director/Paci, we (should) know, is placed.
Yet, despite this confusion, is because of Budak, that one can evidence the real fulcrum of most Albanian artist’s work, which consist precisely in the mise-en-scène that often appears in Paci’s showcased works at The National Gallery (I even agree with Budak to use grand recit referring to Paci’s work, but with another meaning, as it is used sometimes in France, which relates to the grand récits of the great leading actors of the Parisian ThéâtreBoulevardier/Vaudevillesque). Moreover, being the artist, as Budak defined him, “self-referential”, one should know more on the “references” of Adrian Paci to understand better his mise-en-scène (Or not? Or the curator is defining the artist as “self-referential” just to provide him with a sort of license or Schengen Visa to freely ab+use artistic and philosophical concepts as well as art history? Personally, I am fine with that, but in that case we should talk on Paci’s art as a sort of amateur hour).
Firstly, to understand Paci’s mise-en-scène or grand recit, we should turn back to that being happily involved within the global neoliberal system of exploitation and commodification of art that consumes everyone and everything following the laws of the pyramidal hierarchy. Let’s take in consideration for example Home to go, a his early work present at The National Gallery of Art exhibition.
In this case, the migrant – the artist himself, the great leading actor, as suggested by the resemblances of this work with the artist – is apparently represented as a sort of martyr, a Christological character. What an elitist, clerical, and bourgeois context, such as the Italy of 2001, could have expected more than this work? As I see it, it confirms and represents the imaginary of the majority of the Italian elitist artistic context of the time. But, what about the migrant and his specific characteristics? [Just a specification: the majority of the migrants in Italy and in Europe were and are not coming from a Christian tradition, so this Paci’s work do not “universalize” properly to make “global” the migration problem, but tries to make it more familiar to the host.] Being myself a migrant in Italy of 2001, I do not think that it represents the image of me and my imaginary at that time. I do not even think it represents the frustration and wrath of ordinary migrants that were and still are daily targeted by Lega Nord (I lived in Bergamo at that time, almost the same context of Paci). I think it does not represent even the imaginary of the Albanian migrants, that, after the Tragedy of Otranto, lost every illusion on the hospitality and open arms of the Italian and European Union States. Moreover, it is better to specify that the Italians culture of hospitality is something else, that has to do even with the Christianity, but it is not connected with the pathetic and patinated/glossy representations such as Adrian Paci’s Home to Go. In this regard, even Budak’s use of terms such as pathos and splendor, sounds deviating and ab+usive, because these Paci’s works, as a lot of works circulating and feeding the contemporary neoliberal art system, share more common traits with counter-reformation art period (certain Mannerism and Baroque, if you like) than Renaissance, as Edi Rama in Albania or the neoliberal contemporary art system want us to believe. In other words, these Paci’s works characteristics, instead of pathos and splendor, could be more appropriate to define as pathetic and glossy.
Secondly, to understand Paci’s “self-references”, which I would rather call “references”, we should still consider them as a sort of simulation, a mimic, a pompous boulevardier or vaudevillesque acting the great leading actor. With this in mind, his works in general, and Prova in particular, showcased at The National Gallery exhibition, suggest the Albanian artist par excellence: Kolë Idromeno. Idromeno is considered to be the first Albanian modern painter and artist. In this regard, if we follow the words of Budak, referred to Paci, we can easily have an idea of who Kolë Idromelo was:
“[T]he moving image (a film, a video) dialogues with the still image of the photographic series as well as with the image, captured within the frame of painting, the artist’s primary skill and vocation, proving […] formal versatility and his interest in a variety of expressions and languages”.
In addition, being Paci the curator in 2017 of some Idromeno’s photographic works, we can easily notice the similarities in terms of visual traits between some characters of Prova. However, although even in Idromeno the characters/actors are posing, the differences between the two are remarkable and similarities limited in the classical composition of the frame. Consequently, even the “reference”, looks superficial, pretentious.
For example, in Idromeno, if we want to hazard the Lyotardian reading suggested by Budak, we do not see the “description, illustration, narration” – as Adrian Paci himself explains in the interview above linked (“Idromeno nuk proteston me fotot e tij, ai nuk proteston as me pikturat e tija. Thjesht përshkruen, ilustron, tregon.”) – of a grand recit such as the Bible stories, but the meta-narration. And meta-narration means, etymologically, “beyond narration”, or, as Idromeno does, the contextualization of a known narration. So, within the grand recit of the well-known biblical infernal stories, we see not the characters of the picture perpetuating through characteristic poses all the tragedy and pathos of the biblical tradition, but a character of the context (Shkodra) during Idromeno’s time, which, as suggested by the pictures, is a context emanating a terrible and horrible comicality. And this makes a character, which doesn’t exist within the grand recit, a specific and original one, which is a very different thing from Paci’s impassive and lifeless characteristic characters, that confirm the mainstream and political power canons of representation, the grand recit precisely. I guess, to make understand the difference between being a character and having a character, a Quentin Tarantino’s fast-food philosophy quote can help Paci and Budak.
Thus, in Idromeno we do not see the narration of a grand recit, but a joyful play with the medium (theatrically or photographically), as he always did, with all the media, in all its artistic production, being it painting, photography, architecture, etc. In Paci we have only a superficial, glossy and pompous description, narration, illustration that intentionally confirms and is ready and happy to be marked, in terms of meaning, by the grand recits of our time, being it the elitist bourgeois clerical context of Shkodra and Italy or the confirmation and promotion of Edi Rama’s neoliberal policies.
And, what is most important, in Paci’s showcased works there is no play with the medium or media (even in painting Paci seems an imitator of Edi Hila, another artist adrift of mannerism, but of his own) from a technological point of view. In this regard, the Idromenoan “joyful play with the medium”, in Paci’s Prova for example, is limited in the alternation of camera focus between foreground and background objects. The focus goes from the microphone to life suffered faces of the filmed persons. The produced, generated or stimulated meaning according this very basic film syntax is: voice to the poorest? Wow! Isn’t it original? I do not know how to define this kind of cinematic take. To me, more than obscene, for which I have a lot of respect because is somehow connected with the transgression of an ordinary scene, this kind of illustrative use of the medium/camera looks like Albanian tallava video clips or pornography. It brings in mind not the history of the video art (maybe even scholastic in this case could sound too generous), but the new trends of luxurious porno films made in USA/Hollywood (it is a wide used cliché in these films the focal transition from genitals in action, a bouquet of roses on the table, placed in middle-background, and, in far-background, the “cozy” city view, seen from the extra-large window of the apartment placed on the top of the skyscraper where the action is taking place).
To conclude, in Paci’s National Gallery showcased works one is always in front of an art of ideas and never in front of an idea of arts, always in front of an idea expressed through a medium or media and never in front of an idea of medium or media. In other words, in front of the endless prove of consumerist reproduction and commodification of art, which more than with the aesthetic of arts has to do with anesthetic policies.
P.S. There is a peculiar trait or red thread in Paci’s works, which I have considered for a long time as very important, if not the most important, to decipher the artist’s evolution. It is a sense of waiting, expectance. But throughout his works it seems spontaneous, never developed, quasi unconscious, and not rationalized. So, it is difficult to talk in this case of evolution. Maybe, in this regard, something should be written, but it is difficult without passing through the psychogenic aspects of his works, made of pious spirit and pomposity.
[This text is written in English and not in Albanian, because, firstly, the Albanian readers of this blog know almost all the issues that will be discussed; secondly, because somehow, especially after the last visit in Tirana, few days ago, I felt more foreigner in my birthplace; lastly, because the text concerns mostly non-Albanians people involved in the discussed art event.]
In September I was contacted by my friend Vladan Jeremić, that sent me the link announcing his and Rena Rädle participation at Tirana Art Lab’s Performative Exhibition, and asking about my presence. Their idea was to organize an “action of barricades against gentrification of Paris Commune in Tirana”. Unfortunately I was in Brussels those days. Vladan, considering our intention from 2017 to collaborate, wanted somehow to involve me. But, as I explained to him, I had already closed my experience with Tirana Art Lab, as I lost “connection” with Executive Director Adela Demetja, that in my opinion “belongs to the other side of the barricade” and apparently whatever she does seems contaminated by the prevailing logic of doing art in Albania; in other words: promotion of political power, following the submissive models of Anri Sala, Edi Muka, Erzen Shkololli, Edi Hila, Adrian Paci & Co.
This affirmation can be considered too harsh, but I will try to explain it.
When I turned back at my B&B apartment, I opened the link to read the text presenting the Performative Exhibition 2. After reading it, I understood that my friends were totally out of the context, ignoring the history of Komuna e Parisit in Tirana. I contacted Vladan to clarify some obscure passages of the text, that, as Vladan said to me, was “written by him, Rena and Adela”.
It was immediately clear which part of the text was written by Adela Demetja, because “the ignorance” or voluntarily “ignoring” of the context was too visible (this is becoming a symptomatic trait of making art in Albania). Reading the text I noticed that one of the participants was Valentina Bonizzi, and discovered that “Komuna e Parisit, emerg[ed] during the socialist period”! What an epiphany! So, I told to Vladan that the text “sounds left-washing” and, as I saw it, “your work assembled in this manner will not produce effects”.
Obviously, Vladan reacted questioning on how could I judge their work without seeing it and added that after seeing it I “will be amazed”.
However, beyond his positive expectations, I told him that my opinion was based on the conceptual organization of the text and the bad use of my concepts produced during Tirana Art Lab experience. I also explained him that Valentina Bonizzi was working for Edi Rama’s Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD), and I thought that this should be enough to maintain the distances from her, or at least to be aware and challenge her to clarify on this issue, before any collaboration. In addition, in my opinion, one should consider a problem Bonizzi’s experience at COD, as she works there not because of her CV, but because of her partner, Driant Zeneli, that happens to be cousin of Falma Fshazi, director at COD (Fshazi is “worldwide famous” – who cares about a CV at COD!!! – for translating Edi Rama’s masterpiece KURBAN in Turkish! And that means a lot in Albania!). Moreover, one should also know that Bonizzi is “very interested in some teenage activists fighting against political power” … in Kamza Municipality (headed by opposition Party) … no matter Bonizzi works for Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania. So, for her, seems that the problem is elsewhere (According to me, the real question is whether Bonizzi’s work should be considered as “mass distractions or mass destruction” as the works of Sala, Muka, Paci, Hila & Co.). Finally, as I see it, all these facts are connected with the “means of productions” (I bet nobody asked Bonizzi on these issues during her presentation at Tirana Art Lab. But maybe I am wrong. Am I?), which represent a sensitive topic in the framework of Rena Rädle and Vladan Jeremić works (at least this was my impression on their work).
Furthermore, and what I found and considered as most deviating and reactionary, I told to Vladan that Komuna e Parisit in Tirana do not have anything to do with Paris Commune. Far from that.
Firstly, for those who are ignorant or want to ignore the context, Komuna e Parisit was not “emerged during socialist period”. During “socialist period” that part of the city was an Agricultural Cooperative and the state land was cultivated with corn and grain. After 1991, with the change of political regime, there were some scattered illegal buildings constructed (1, 2, 3 floors high). But it is after 2002, with Mayor Edi Rama, that the bulimic constructions of buildings boomed (at least 10 or more floors) and the real Komuna e Parisit “emerged”. And, what is most important, the name Komuna e Parisit, as a quarter, was given during Edi Rama’s period, just to left-wash the neoliberal urban practices (a lot of fans consider Edi Rama as a genius in this original political use of left-washing, but the roots can be easily found in George Soros foundation and Michael Bloomberg‘s way of administering a city).
Everyone in Tirana knows (for more information one should ask to Fatos Lubonja) that Komuna e Parisit was the real vision of Edi Rama for Tirana and, as we experienced in these years, for Albania.
The land of the Agricultural Cooperative at Komuna e Parisit, with the change of the regime, from state socialism to the capitalist free market, was meant to return to the former land owners. But Edi Rama, as Mayor, blocked the propriety certificates of the owners which should have been released by the Municipality of Tirana. In other words, nobody could have had the propriety certificate unless selling the land to the oligarchs of Edi Rama (it is considered that 20% of each building went from the “constructor” to the pockets of former Mayor now Prime Minister of Albania … is anyone still astound by Edi Rama’s bunker-villa in Surrel?). This is a known problem of the transitional Albania, where the legitimate land owners were blackmailed or deliberately robbed (in Albania you can often find three or four “certified” land owners for the same piece of land), or where the workers that became owners of the former state fabrics after the collapse of the regime were left in misery, easy prey for mafia, which in this manner bought for a pittance the whole Albanian assets.
Anyway, all this facts at Komuna e Parisit happened when Tirana was also transformed in a sort of new contemporary art paradise in the South-Eastern Europe and Balkans. So, beyond left-washing urban politics, there was an ongoing art-washing process. And the key figures were the same: Anri Sala, Edi Muka, Edi Hila & Co. Until now, none of them has ever questioned the neoliberal urban practices of Edi Rama.
So after all these missing information, that a curator should provide to the artists before contextualizing their work (but maybe Vladan and Rena needed a PR and a tourist guide for Tirana’s best restaurants), I asked Vladan if he was sure to continue with the idea of connecting Paris Commune and Komuna e Parisit in Tirana. After a hesitation he thanked me and added that a re-framing was going to happen, “more radical”.
After that, we have been in touch during the organization and production of the event. I was glad to see the correction of the ignorance or voluntary ignoring of the context, regarding the emerging of Komuna e Parisit in Tirana, on Tirana Art Lab’s webpage:
But what I felt, especially after seeing the online live intervention, was, again, a total abusive reformulation of what I have done in Tirana Art Lab during 2014-’18. Anyway, before “judging without seeing the work”, I asked to interview the artists and waited to visit Tirana and see what have remained from “amazing” and “more radical” art event, before expressing my opinion. Here is the interview:
Romeo Kodra: What is the connection of the exhibition “Komuna e Parisit revisited” with the historical Paris Commune? Rena &Vladan: Our starting reference for this work in Tirana is the meaning of the Paris Commune considering the relation between art and politics. The Paris Commune marks a historical instance of political subjectivization of the working class, at a time when new bourgeois art institutions as the academy and art salons flourished in Paris. Realist painter Gustave Courbet was one amongst many cultural workers and artisans who solidarized with the communards and took over important functions in the 72 days lasting workers-led self-government of Paris. The practice of him and his fellow artists was an early example of the avant-garde principle that art and life needs to be brought in one, and that artists need to become a political subject on the side of the working class. Remembering this historical reference, our major question was if such practices have any significance in contemporary Albania and other European peripheries. Our intention was to test and to discover if it is possible to perform the unity of art and politics in Tirana, having in mind that each artistic event is after all limited to a cultural public and can hardly become a mass social manifestation. Another connection between the title of the exhibition and the local context in Tirana lies in the fact that there exists a street named Paris Commune in Tirana. Despite this fact, the original meaning of the Commune in Tirana is not a common knowledge and it is in a way suppressed by the on-going building and real-estate speculations in the city. Therefore we aimed with the exhibition to underline the emancipatory heritage of the Commune and to recuperate the primary meaning of this name. R.K.: What is the overall relation of the performative exhibition concept with this historic event? R&V: The performative exhibition is a format suggested by the curator Adela Demetja, director of TAL. This format is demanding, but it is in the same time very inspiring. In the framework of this format, it is important to realize a kind of constant mobility of artistic production, a certain discoursivity and ability to foster movement. The whole setting was inspiring for us because we managed in the past to develop a specific practice that we determine as transformative artistic practice. This kind of artistic practice puts in the foreground the use value of art and tends to integrate art as a relevant actor in the struggle for social justice. Transformation is a process in which artistic production becomes useful in a concrete political conjunction, but within that transformation art does not loose its artistic qualities. In contrary, the process of transformation provides a new quality of art. The connection between the artistic transformation we have performed at TAL and the historical notion of the Paris Commune lies in the idea of the political transformation of the artwork, which began during the Commune. Historically, the communards first decided to tear down the Vendome column and then the (unrealized) idea was born to put artworks from Louvre on the barricades, in order to protect themselves from the bourgeois cannons. In that way, the art work became useful for the political purpose and the previous autonomy of the artwork was transformed and in this way art has got a completely new value. With our work in Tirana we went back to the roots of this ideas and performed it concretely with our last intervention together with people from of Aleanca për Mbrojtjen e Teatrit. R.K. Why this kind of intervention? How did you involve other people? What was their contribution (if any) in terms of concept and production? R&V: With the aim to produce artistic objects that can function within a protest situation and as symbolic barricades in defence of common space in the urban fabric, at TAL we developed objects from cardboards and wooden sticks that can easily be moved and carried out in the streets. The objects are covered with drawings that conceptualize the struggle against capitalist destruction, some of them refer to the condition of production in the arts, others are more general. At the exhibition at TAL, we have exhibited these objects together with didactic drawings that we made in 2013 in Bucharest for the event “Parasites and Prophets, International Conference on Artistic Production, Organization and Struggle” and as a result of our seminar “Art Production in Restriction. Possibilities of Transformative Art Production and Coalition-Building”. This event we organized in 2015 in Norway and it brought together artists, writers, critics, and curators from Europe and the United States who were active in groups (such as W.A.G.E., ArtLeaks, Occupy Museums, etc.) that are struggling for better working conditions in the arts and society at large. The aim of this event was to come up with a common method for organizing and coalition-building in the art world and beyond. So, both artifacts served as a kind of didactic tools for the visitors in order to politicize their relation to art and labor. The performative exhibition included as well artistic and research practices by invited colleagues Valentina Bonizzi, Raino Isto and Filip Jovanovski and discussed the function and use value of an artwork within social surroundings, modes of participation and possibilities of artists’ organization in the region and from the socialist past of Albania. We had already heard some time ago about the plan of the government to remove the National Theatre and about the protests against its demolition and against the privatization of public space in general in Tirana. We’ve established contact with a group of people organizing events at the occupied theater, most of them member of Aleanca për Mbrojtjen e Teatrit and among them Lindita Komani and Elvis Kazazi, and offered them to use the objects for their activities. With them, we organized a joint action and carried the objects from the exhibition space at TAL to the National Theater. Now it is up to them, how they make use of them further in their struggles. A very interesting “transformative moment” of our work was exactly in the act of carrying the objects trough the city, when they were moved to the theatre by the people who are defending the theatre from demolition. In a very personal manner the activists and artists from the theatre reshaped our mobile art objects and flags and walked with them via major streets of Tirana. They walked along the boulevard and passed by the governmental buildings of prime-minister Edi Rama and National Gallery. The parade had lot of attention by the passers-by and it was a clear message that a protest is performed in front of their eyes. R.K. Is there any thing new that you discovered from the context (in terms of art, culture, politics)? R&V:We have been here in Tirana for the first time in 2005 when we participated in the Tirana Activism Festival organized by MJAFT, but these were different times. Now the change is quite visible. We are very surprised at how much the ideology of liberalism and free market is present in the city. Tirana has become one big building construction experiment. R.K. What can you say in terms of means of production during the entire event? R&V: TAL is a self-organized art organization with no state funding and it has limited resources. We have been aware of the limitation when it comes to means of production. However, with a lot of enthusiasm we coordinated the whole production with Adela Demetja on a very high level. Our common goal was to imagine different ways of distribution of art. The wider economy of art is, as financial capitalism, based on speculation. Similar to trade with assets, profit is made not through production, but through circulation (distribution) of the artwork. Our answer to the current situation is to create art that conceptualizes the aspect of its distribution, but in a diametrically opposed way. The distribution we aim at is the circulation of the art work due to its (political) use value, in this case for the struggle against privatization and commercialization of public space and institutions. So, as the last instance of the performative exhibition at TAL, we invited activists to reshape the objects and they were transformed into tools for common use. We think that we’ve managed to fulfill the initial goal and to transform art into means of production of struggle.
I do not know why, but reading the answers I had the feeling that by “means of productions” Rena and Vladan mean financial aspects of art production, which for me instead should mean the concepts, theories and techniques of producing art; in other words the laboratorial aspects, or what stands behind of art production.
In addition, the way the subjectivization is treated, “the art and life needs to be brought at one”, seems contradictory with the way Performative Exhibition is done, where there is no subjectivization, but only subjectification of art, because the life intended as protest or resistance is absent and the art, theatricalized, present.
However, the most impressive fact for me was that the intervention happened as if everything started from zero/0. How was it possible that after the ironic and sarcastic intervention of Georgia Kotretsos and Tirana Art Lab (Yes, Tirana Art Lab, an institution, has an artwork in its portfolio, the same as the Artist Prime Minister Edi/p Rama!) on the boulevard space, as well as after dozens of AKSREVISTA’s writings on the boulevardization of art and artists, Tirana Art Lab organized an artistic intervention on the boulevard which had a “lot of attention by the passers-by and it was a clear message that a protest is performed in front of their eyes”? Really, a lot of attention? A performed protest? Maybe, someone should have informed the artists and the leftists activists Vladan and Rena that the same day, on October 12th (Google helps a lot searching “Unaza e Re 12 Tetor”), six protesters were jailed at Unaza e Re/New Ring of Tirana. It is incredible how the leftist artists were not aware of the protests, which, by the way, is ongoing daily from 2018. Or the Performative Exhibition was just an artistic intervention to deviate the attention from the real problem? Are we talking even in this case for the art as a weapon of “mass distraction or mass destruction”, distracting the masses or destroying the becoming massive of the protests?
Anyway, it is very strange that a connection between the urban revolution of the Paris Commune, which happened as a clear consequence of Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s urban speculations and spectacularizations in Paris, and Tirana’s New Ring, which is happening as a clear consequence of Edi Rama’s urban speculations and spectacularizations, was not made. I know that Adela Demetja is allergic of reading, but Vladan and Rena I guess have heard about David Harvey, especially when they deal with neoliberism, urban speculation and spectacularization of politics through art.
But, let consider the possibility that the artists did not know anything regarding what was and is still happening in Tirana. Let consider them as ordinary tourists that wanted to taste the delicious Albanian dishes and make some money through recycling a former art project and adopt its objects in an alien context, just to finance the accommodation and per diem.
So, if we focus only on the power of art to stimulate and/or generate new meanings, I would like to know what is new in the boulevard parade of Vladan, Rena and other activists for the protection of National Theater? Where is the transformative power of art? In this regard I saw a picture on facebook page of Tirana Art Lab, proclaiming: This is what we mean by Performative Exhibition!!!
For those who do not know, the man on the picture is Robert Budina, a film director that, honor him, with bare hands resisted with other citizens against the police and governmental forces that wanted to destroy the National Theater few months ago. He is there resisting and defending from the destruction the National Theater, although the “workers/proletarians”, the actors of the National Theater (except two or three of them), disappeared, fearful of losing the working place and being fired by the government (This fact I guess shows the difficulty to articulate concepts and discourses through ready-made and consequently pseudo-marxist terminology in Albania).
So, questions rise: where is the transformative power of Rena’s and Vladan’s piece of art that Budina holds in his hands? Is the piece of art stimulating and/or generating new meanings, or is absorbing meanings from Budina? If is Budina that tranforms the artwork, then what is the difference between Budina’s picture holding the art piece of Rena and Vladan with this other picture?
Personally, I do not see any difference, except Budina being a very kind and collaborative man and Ronaldo a well payed millionaire.
But maybe I am wrong, these pieces of art transported in a parade on Tirana’s main boulevard, have nothing to do with the representational, showy, decorative aspects of arts. Maybe even the protesters of Aleanca për Mbrojtjen e Teatrit, that used the art pieces as props during their artistic events, are completely wrong. Maybe, maybe, maybe. There are a lot of maybes. Maybe a better research and contextualization should have been done.
P.S. In Albanian is considered “butaforì” (promps, in English) a decorative art, an art which is too obvious and superficial and is very different, if not contrary, from the “radical” or “amazing” art.
P.P.S. Unfortunately, in the case of Unaza e Re/ Tirana’s New Ring as well as in the case of National Theater there is no discourse or articulation from a leftist point of view, which per se seems paradoxical, but knowing the Albanian politics of the last 30 years is perfectly coherent. At the moment, being in opposition the right wing is trying to gain consensuses supporting the protesters, although it is this same opposition, which, when was governing the country, made the fascist laws for the expropriation of houses or tried to destroy artistic and cultural heritage objects (such as the case of the “Pyramid”), for mere financial profits of the oligarchs. Moreover there is a clear tendency of dividing the protesters from each other. I remember protesting students impeding the protesters of the New Ring to join them; I remember protesters of Zharrëza doing the same to the students of Lëvizja për Universitetin; even Aleanca për Mbrojtjen e Teatrit had some similar problems with Oragnizata Politike. So, in other words, the occasion to intervene through this type of projects was very appropriate, but it necessitates strong research on the context, courage and above all no art-washing and left-washing, because of these lasts Albania is plenty.
[Ky tekst nuk u prezantua gjatë eventit të prillit, duke qenë se u zëvendësua nga prezantimi i Ernest Shtëpanit mbi të njëjtën temë.]
“Promenades that go from no place to nowhere” – Jane Jacobs.
Duke qenë se eventi ishte menduar të kontekstualizohej dhe të kontekstualizonte nëpërmjet historive, praktikave, teorive dhe teknikave të artit (arkitekturës dhe filmit) qenien tonë si qytetarë me të drejta dhe detyrime përkarshi bashkëjetesës në komunitetin urban, dokumentari Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, mbi jetën dhe veprimtarinë e Jane Jacobs-it, kësaj aktivisteje që me pak qytetarë të tjerë arriti të ndalojë frullin betonizues dhe asfaltues të pjesës më karakteristike të New York-ut të viteve ’60, na u duk më i përshtatshmi për të lidhur protestuesit e Astirit, Teatrit Kombëtar, fundit të pafundmë të Bulevardit drejt Bregut të Lumit e të tjera vatra të urbanizimit kafshëror kryeqytetas. Krahas dokumentarit, bazë diskutimi ishte edhe libri i Jane Jacobs-it The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Fushëbeteja e Jacobs-it, siç u tha ishte New York-u i fillimviteve ’60, dhe kundërshtari Robert Moses, njeriu që importoi mendësinë dhe logjikën urbane të Parisit haussmannian në kryeqendrën e botës së pasluftës së II botërore.
Por ky importim, që kalëronte vrullin modernist dhe çlirimin nga ankthi i luftës, ishte akoma më megaloman, jashtë përmasave njerëzore, spekulativ dhe si rrjedhojë fashistoid sesa ç’mund të imagjinohej deri në atë kohë. Përplasja u shkaktua nga propozimi urban i Moses-it drejtuar administratës së metropolit, i cili parashikonte një expressway/autostradëtë ngritur, 70-metra të gjerë, që kalonte si një bypass zemrën e Manhattan-it të Poshtëm, më ekzaktësisht, duke prekur lagjet Greenwich Village, Soho, Tribeca, Little Italy, Chinatown dhe Lower East Side.
Si banore e Greenwich Village, Jane Jacobs-i, deri në atë kohë gazetare për Architectural Forum, u gjend personalisht e prekur prej transformimeve urbane dhe ndërhyrjeve vizionare e spastruese të Robert Moses-it. Përplasja, për si arriti ta artikulonte Jacobs gjatë gjithë jetës së saj, ishte në mendësi dhe botëkuptim. Për t’i rënë shkurt qyteti i Moses-it ishte qyteti i së ardhmes, qyteti i industrializuar, qyteti i makinave dhe teknologjisë. Pak a shumë, me gjithë spekullimet e mundshme teorike, qyteti i Le Corbusier-së. Ndërsa për Jacobs-in ishte qyteti i marrëdhënieve njerëzore. Dhe me vetëm kaq pak konceptualizim, papërputhshmëria e Jacobs-it me mendësinë dhe botëkuptimin e ajkës së planifikimit urban dhe arkitekturës botërore, ishte sa e qelibartë aq edhe ekstreme e, mbi të gjitha, e drejtë.
Kjo papërputhshmëri nxjerr në pah dy pole që nuk shihen kurrë njëri me tjetrin. Falë Jane Jacobs-it, personi i parë që kritikoi publikisht me emër e mbiemër Robert Moses-in, gjer atëherë ati i padiskutueshëm i planifikimit dhe arkitekturës njujorkeze, sot e kësaj dite lëma e planifikimit dhe arkitekturës është e detyruar të mbërthejë e përcaktojë kuptimin e “marrëdhënieve njerëzore” përpara çdo projektimi të denjë për t’u quajtur i tillë.
Robert Moses-i i përkiste fillimisht anës progresiste të politikës njujorkeze (demokrat), i cili me lehtësi kaloi në anën tjetër, atë të konservatorizmit (republikan). Pjellë e New Deal-it rooseveltian, plot parqe, stola dhe përmirësim të jetës së klasave jo të pasura, ai kaloi në pak vite duke u shndërruar për pozicionin që kishte, si planifikues i New York-ut, në nyjen gordiane të vënies në lëvizje dhe çlirimit të financave të elitave kapitaliste, plot mega-infrastruktura, beton dhe asfalt. Është, për mendimin tim, shembulli më i mirë arketipal i elitave afariste që kemi sot në botë, por edhe në Shqipëri, ku neoliberizmi dhe neokonservatorizmi, gjejnë gjithmonë gjuhën e përbashkët kur vjen puna për të spekulluar në kurriz të publikut, pra fondeve shtetërore, të cilat mundësojnë infrastruktura për të lehtësuar përfitimin gjithnjë e më të majmë të privatit. Thjeshtë për analogji dhe për të evidentuar versionet shqiptare të shndërrimit të pushtetit të votës në pushtet të parasë, po përmend Edi Ramën, i cili pak ditë përpara votimeve u premtonte banorëve të Astirit legalizimet, dhe pas votimeve u sillte buldozerët për fshirjen e rradhës; ose Lulëzim Bashën që kishte vënë një banner me dhjetra metra katrorë tek ish-stacioni i trenit “Bllokuar nga Edi Rama”, referuar vazhdimit të bulevardit kryesor të kryeqytetit, kur ishte në krye të Bashkisë së Tiranës, dhe tani del si “përkrahës” i banorëve të cilët preken nga “shkatërrimet e nevojshme për modernizimin urban” kryeqytetas.
Pra, u desh të vinte Jane Jacobs-i për t’u evidentuar një humbje e parikuperueshme që shkaktonin rinovimet urbane: marrëdhëniet njerëzore ose, thënë ndryshe, thurrima sociale. Ndoshta e frustruar prej retorikës fashistoide të planifikuesve dhe arkitektëve të asokohe, por që lehtësisht mund të dëgjohen edhe sot e kësaj dite, Jane Jacobs-i e fillon Life and Death me një fjali lapidare, që, për mendimin tim, i përket më shumë strategjisë së saj sesa nevojës apo domosdoshmërisë reale: “This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding.” The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs Jane, Vintage Books, NY, 1992, fq. 3.
Natyrisht libri nuk është zgjidhja e të gjitha problemeve. Madje, mund të thuhet se koha e ka demonstruar që nuk është fare zgjidhje, as edhe për vetë lagjet që asokohe, në mënyrë të papritur, shpëtoi prej fshirjes, të cilat sot janë shndërruar nëpërmjet një gentrifikimi tërësor, në lagje boutique, ku marrëdhëniet njerëzore, për si i nënkuptonte Jacobs-i, janë një kujtim i largët që gjendet në faqet e librave apo filmave amerikanë.
Dhe ky problem te vepra e Jane Jacobs-it është evidentuar që herët. Janë argëtuese përsa i përket kësaj çështjeje faqet e revistës The New Yorker, prej nga kritiku Lewis Mumford ironizonte zgjidhjet shtëpiake të mëmë Jacobs-it. Por pavarësisht kritikave, apo shijes disi reaksionare që del nga një lexim i parë dhe sipërfaqësor, fokusi maniakal dhe shkencor i Jacobs-it te “marrëdhëniet njerëzore” (kujdes, jo te njerëzit, por te marrëdhëniet njerëzore, pra kemi të bëjmë me analizimin e hapësirës brenda të cilave këto marrëdhënie ndodhin e zhvillohen!!!), zbulon njëkohësisht injorancën e kritikëve dhe vakumin që në vetevete këto marrëdhënie përbënin dhe shpesh vazhdojnë e përbëjnë në projektim apo dizajn arkitektoniko-urban, të cilat detyrimisht alienojnë këdo që ato projekte apo dezajne jeton e banon.
Gjithsesi, siç u përmend më sipër, nuk duhet parë Jane Jacobs-i si ungjillizuese e zgjidhjes së problemeve të arkitekturës dhe planifikimit urban. Madje hera herës ajo është rrënqethëse me qasjen reaksionare (Lewis Mumford shastisej prej mendjelehtësisë së thirrjes “The city cannot be an artwork”). Por, nëse do të kontekstualizohej Life and Death historikisht e gjeografikisht në New York-un e viteve ’60, pra nëse do të anashkalohej korrektësia e gjerësisë dhe thellësisë së sfondit teorik ku Jane Jacobs justifikon veprimin e saj si aktiviste, do të shihej që, nëpërmjet aftësisë së jashtëzakonshme të organizimit, reklamimit, mobilizimit dhe koalicioneve të krijuara për të arritur qëllimin e përcaktuar, Jane Jacobs është një fenomen që duhet studiuar në çdo kohë (në Citizen Jane: the Battle for the City të Matt Tyrenauer, që shpesh kalon në klishe tipike hollywoodo-amerikane, nuk përmendet, por interlokutorët aleatë të Jane Jacobs-it shkonin nga mafiozë italianë, hebrenj radikalë, pronarë të vegjël punishtesh apo dyqanesh, tregtarë kinezë e deri te banorët e thjeshtë të lagjeve të interesuara nga fshirjet fashistoide të Robert Moses-it).
Në fund më pëlqen të kujtoj një fragment nga kjo histori e aktivistes dhe shkrimtares amerikane që na lidh direkt me bëmat anakronike të kryebashkiakut të sotëm të Tiranës Erjon Veliaj, kur Jane Jacobs, në “dëgjesën publike” të krybashkiakut të New York-ut, pasi kishte marrë fjalën dhe kishte vënë re që nuk po regjistrohej, kishte protestuar duke kërkuar që të anulohej dhe të ribëhej e gjithë dëgjesa. “Kur nuk është e regjistruar, dëgjesa nuk ka egzistuar”, ishin fjalët e saj, pas të cilave u arrestua nga policia bashkiake.
P.S. Jane Jacobs u largua përfundimisht nga New York-u për në Toronto, në 1968, për shkak se, si pacifiste e bindur, ishte kundër luftës në Vietnam dhe nuk donte që dy djemtë e saj të kryenin shërbimin e detyrueshëm ushtarak.
Me The Belly of an Architect të Peter Greenaway-t – njëkohësisht regjisor, skenarist dhe artist pamor – donim të mbanim një lidhje të qasjes sonë me ato kapërcime bordurash, kufijsh, nga njëra formë arti në tjetrën, të përmendura nga Jean-Luc Godard-i, prej citatit të të cilit mori shtysë aktiviteti mbi arkitekturën dhe filmin në Universitetin Metropolitan.
Filmi hapet me një skenë seksi brenda një treni në lëvizje, që shenjon gjenezën e idesë artistike të autorit Greenaway, por edhe atë të vetë kinematografisë, ku treni përçon në mendje vëllezërit Lumière.
Duhet të vihet re, që në fillim, që trupat e dy personazheve janë të shtrirë duke kryer marrëdhënie seksuale me kokën nga ana e kundërt e drejtimit që ka marrë treni. Ky është kontrasti i parë që na përshfaq regjizori. Imazhet ndërthurin gjithashtu pamje pezazhistike baritore dhe një varrezë të rrahur nga dielli i Mesdheut. Dritaret e trenit që rrëshqasin përpara syve tanë rimojnë me rrulin e kameras (xhirimin e shiritit filmik), si dhe me karrelatën e varreve të njëpasnjëshme.
Prej dialogut, që vijon pas seksit, kuptojmë se po kalohej pika kufitare midis Francës dhe Italisë, në Ventimiglia.
Gruaja – Ç’mënyrë për të hyrë në Itali! Burri – Absolutisht! Mënyra ideale! Toka e pjellorisë […] gra të bukura […] histori […] ideale të larta …
Referencat janë shumë dimensionale/përmasore. Ato lidhin historinë e treguar dhe skenarin, botëkuptimin filozofik të personazhit kryesor, atë të regjisorit, historinë e filmit dhe arkitekturës si arte me specificitetet e tyre.
Arkitekti Kracklite (lehtësisht i thyeshëm?), së bashku me të shoqen e sapomartuar, ka mbërritur në Romë për të organizuar, sipas tij, “ekspozitën e një prej arkitektëve më të shpërfillur dhe keqkuptuar të historisë”, francezit Étienne-Louis Boullée, vizionar i pamohueshëm por edhe burim frymëzimi për Adolf Hitler-in.
Kracklite-i, duke qenë se është arkitekt, e supozon veten si njeriun e duhur për të kuptuar thebësisht dhe bërë të njohur mbarëbotërisht një arkitekt të keqkuptuar historikisht si Boullée-ja. Drejt këtij misioni ai hidhet me mish e me shpirt, duke u vetëcilësuar gjithashtu edhe si “arkitekti më i mirë mishngrënës në botën perëndimore … natyrisht duke përjashtuar Romën”. Fjalia eliptike lejon të hapur nënuptimin e Romës si “arkitekte” por edhe si “mishngrënëse”.
Kjo hije dyshimi, që vjen fill pas hovit apo vrullit krijues (treni, seksi, pasioni, mishi, varret), pak para plan-sekuencës së festës, na u nënvizua edhe prej një muzike të përshpejtuar (të Wim Mertens-it), që paralajmëron rrjedhën katastrofike të gjithë historisë së arkitektit Kracklite.
Jemi pra, edhe një herë, në një rreth vicioz ku arkitektura – por pas saj edhe filmi e arti në përgjithësi – refuzon të përkufizohet, të futet në skema të përcaktuara, me qendra të përcaktuara apo privilegjuara kuptimore. Nuk ka asnjë lexim apo kuptim të duhur, njëtrajtësues e të përhershëm që t’i rezistojë kohës, kur bëhet fjalë për artin. Nuk është vetëm politikani, siç ishte rasti i Fidel Castro-s tek Escuela-t e artit në La Havana apo Hitler-it të frymëzuar prej Boullée-së, që nuk kuptojnë apo kanë të tjera prioritete përtej artit, por edhe vetë artisti (Kracklite) e ka të pamundur të kuptojë, me gjithë dëshirën apo pasionin e vet, një artist tjetër (Boullée-në). Kështu që, sido që të jetë, njëri apo tjetri, apo të dy bashkë e kanë fatin e paracaktuar: dështim/vdekje në skenën e qytetit.
Kjo duket se është bindja e Peter Greenaway-t, për të cilin Barku i Arkitektit duket se i referohet jo më pjesës së trupit të arkitektit, por një pjese të një trupi më të madh brenda të cilit arkitekti gjendet (Roma? Chicago? Qyteti në përgjithësi? … Gruaja e Kracklite-it në skenën hyrës të trenit citon Upton Sinclair-in me qytetin e mishit dhe gjakut).
Prirja për t’u vënë në pozitat e një të privilegjuari të fushës, apo përafrie simpatizuese profesionale, nuk ishte vetëm e Kracklite-it. Vetë Boullée-ja, për të shpjeguar botëkuptimin e tij total dhe vizionet e tij arkitektoniko-monumentale, thotë:
Vitruvio-ja, siç shihet, nuk pati njohur tjetër veç artit mekanik të arkitekturës. Ose përsëpaku këtë demonstron përcaktimi i tij. Nëse do të kufizohesha së konsideruari arkitekturën vetëm nga pikëpamja e Vitruvio-s, do më dukej si përcaktim korrekt të thosha që është arti i prodhimit të imazheve nëpërmjet vendosjes së trupave. Por, kur konsiderohet në të gjithë kompleksitetin e saj, arkitektura dukshëm nuk është vetëm arti i vendosjes së trupave, por konsiston edhe në njohjen e bërjes bashkë të të gjitha bukurive të natyrës dhe vënies së tyre në veprim. Po, nuk do të lodhem kurrë së përsërituri, arkitektura duhet të jetë ajo që vë në veprim natyrën.Étienne-Louis Boullée, Monumento della pubblica riconoscenza në Architettura. Saggio sull’arte. fq. 28, Einaudi, Torino, 2005.
Kjo prirje idealiste e të parit të arkitekturës dhe botës – apo natyrës, së cilës i referohet Boullée-ja – si të gjithëkuptimtë dhe gjithëkuptueshme mbart në vetvete katastrofën e pashmangshme të cilën dokumenton Peter Greenaway.
Sipas Aldo Rossi-t, arkitektit dhe dizajnerit të mirënjohur italian, i cili firmos hyrjen e Boullée-së në italisht, “[n]uk egziston art që të mos jetë autobiografi” (idem. fq. XXXVI). Nga kjo pikëpamje është tejet interesante të ndiqen paralelisht botëkuptimet e Boullée-së, Kracklite-it dhe Greenaway-it: tre jetë, tre mënyra të të bërit art, tre autobiografi ose tre fotograma … monumentale.
Autobiografia e parë: Boullée-ja jetoi në një periudhë tranzicioni, kalimi bordurash, kufijsh, para dhe pas Revolucionit Francez. Idetë e tij përfshinë arkitekturën pikësëpari si koncept, si histori dhe në fund si funksion civil, por pa i hierarkizuar njëra mbi tjetrën. Në çdo krijim synonte rishikimin, rikrijimin dhe rithemelimin e rregullave të dhëna e të mirëqena dhe për këtë është një nga paraprijësit e modernes në arkitekturë. Është i pari arkitekt që imagjinon shkrirjen dhe përzjerien e institucioneve (Ai momenti kur të vjen në mendje “origjinaliteti” 250-VJEÇAR i Center for Openness and Dialogue!!!). Në vizionin e tij muzetë, teatrot apo gjykata thuajse shkrihen në një.
Veprat e tij më të mira ishin dhe janë të parealizuara dhe të parealizueshme. Për çudi, duke parë referencat e përhershme klasike, nuk udhëtoi kurrë jashtë Parisit. Për këtë, këto vepra, mbeten ende në rendin e utopisë, e një utopie intelektuale, retorike dhe teorike. Por sugjestionet janë konkrete, materiale, të prekshme prej të gjithë arkitektëve që merren me lëndën e tyre themelore: projektin.Në projekt (shkencor, pra jo bocet apo skicë e hedhur diku pamendje) koha e Boullée-së është universale dhe, si rrjedhojë, vendi dhe format gjallojnë pa rreshtur. Nuk përcaktohen. Nuk kanë kufij.
Gjithmonë sipas Aldo Rossi-t, kur u referohet veprave monumentale të Boullée-së, “monumenti, kur tejkalon marrëdhënien me historinë, shndërrohet në gjeografi” (idem. XXXVIII). Gjeografike janë edhe veprat monumentale të Boullée-së, duke qenë se kohën e kanë të shkrirë, universale. Por pjesë e një gjeorgafie mendore, intelektuale, ku vendosen si pika referimi për krijimtarinë dhe kërkimin e parreshtur të arkitektëve pasardhës. Një gjeografi me vende dhe forma gjithnjë në evoluim, që i përshtaten njeriut apo me të cilat njeriu përshtatet (pra, marrëdhënia është binare/reciproke dhe brenda një rendi që synon gjithmonë ekuilibrin).
Autobiografia e dytë: Pikërisht këtë kërkon të bëjë të njohur mbarëbotërisht arkitekti Kracklite, me anë të një ekspozite të Boullée-së. Duke dashur, si kurator, të kurojë dhe shërojë Boullée-në – nga të keqkuptuar prej publikut ta shndërrojë në të mirëkuptuar -, Kracklite-i sëmuret. Nga dhimbjet simptomatike të barkut dyshon për ndonjë kancer, kancer që më pas i diagnostikohet. Dyshon edhe për një helmim që i ka shkaktuar e shoqja, sepse dyshon që e tradhëton, tradhëti që më pas i konfirmohet.
Synimi drejt ekuilibrit me natyrën, me të cilën ushqen krijimtarinë Boullée-ja, kur kristalizohet, kur bëhet i ekspozueshëm, i dukshëm, i qartë, del jashtë kontrollit të kristalizuesit (kuratorit Kracklite), kalon kufijtë dhe bordurat parandaluese, duke shpalosur metastazën e vet kudo. Kriza psiko-fizike e Kracklite-it kulminon me vetëvrasje ditën e hapjes së ekspozitës së Boullée-së, kuruar prej të dashurit të gruas së tij, i cili e kishte zëvendësuar pak më parë për shkak të mospërmbushjes së obligimeve dhe daljes prej buxhetit të caktuar. Fundi i Kracklite-it ndodh në epiqendër të një skene tipike boullée-jane, brenda galerisë, kur hapet ekpozita.
Autobiografia e tretë: Pra, për Peter Greenaway-in arti monumental i vërtetë është një dokumentim i katastrofës brenda së cilës gjithkush ka fatin e paracaktuar. Edhe në këtë rast nuk jemi jashtë artit si autobiografi, siç e quante Rossi. Nga kjo pikëpamje, thuhet se Greenaway idenë e një filmi mbi arkitekturën e Romës e pati gjatë një vizite në qytetin e përjetshëm, kur, në rini të tij, 17-vjeçar, mendonte se si artist pamor (piktor) do të gjente frymëzim prej pikturave të ekspozuara në muzetë e artit, por që kishte qenë arkitektura ajo që i pati lënë përshtypje të pashlyeshme.
Ideja për të bërë filmin iu përforcuar kur, në Romë, në 1982, gjatë turit promovues të filmit The Droughtsman’s Contract, iu propozua të xhironte një film në këtë qytet. Gjatë këtij turi promovues pati një episod të tmerrshëm dhimbjesh stomaku. Frika e një kanceri iu materializua menjëherë. I ati prej kancerit kishte gjetur vdekjen në 1977. Pak muaj më vonë, prej të njëjtës sëmundje, e kishte lënë edhe e ëma (për më shumë, shih Peter Greenaway të Giovanni Bogani-t, Il Castoro, Roma, 1996).
Duket sikur katastrofat personale të autorit dhe rrënojat e qytetit të përjetshëm nuk kanë lidhje njëra me tjetrën. Por një gjë është e sigurtë: janë koherente dhe rimojnë apo bashkëtingëllojnë njëra me tjetrën. Për këtë arsye, nuk mund të anashkalohen analogjitë pamore dhe kuptimore që i bashkojnë. Ndoshta është këtu, te ky konstatim, që mund të fillojë një proces i ri krijues arkitektonik, filmik, artistik. Te kjo bazë sa subliminal-monumentale aq edhe tragjiko-dokumentare mund të fillojë marrëdhënia e arkitektit, kineastit, artistit me hapësirën apo skenën e qytetit, qoftë ky i fundit i quajtur Romë apo Tiranë, fundja janë e njëjta gjë të konsideruara në këtë qasje.