Arti kuratorial si polifoni. Një ide kuratoriale. (Romeo Kodra) English Below.

Ç’ka vijon më poshtë është një metodologji titulluar “Arti kuratorial si polifoni”, nxjerrë nga eksperienca personale mbi procesin kuratorial si proces artistik. Si nëntitull i saj qëndron: “Një ide kuratoriale”. Kjo, në rradhë të parë, do të thotë që autori i këtyre rreshtave nuk e nënkupton kurimin si shërbim ndaj artit apo artistëve, publikut apo institucioneve, por ndaj vetes. Së dyti, nuk e nënkupton as si marrdhënie, por si hulumtim dhe racionalizim i hapësirës midis marrjes dhe dhënies. Për më tepër, ajo që kërkohet të vihet gjithashtu në dukje (nëntitulli) është ideja metodologjike e krijimit të një dispozitivi të prodhimit të kuptimeve nëpërmjet organizimit të hapësirave ekspozitive artistike. Në thelb pra, kjo do të thotë që vetëm një ide mbi artin kuratorial mund të gjenerojë ide artistike kuratoriale. Pra idetë artistike të çliruara prej një vepre arti brenda kuadrit të një ekspozite jo detyrimisht mund të quhen se kanë gjeneruar procesin kuratorial dhe janë vepër e një kuratori. Shumëkush mund të varë apo organizojë objekte brenda një hapësire të caktuar njësoj si në IKEA; po ashtu shumëkush mund të mbledhë miq artistë dhe t’u japë lirinë e organizimit të një hapësire apo duke i intervistuar duke thënë që po e bën në kuadër të një koncepti kuratorial njësoj si Hans Ulrich Obrist; por jo detyrmisht mund t’i quajmë kuratorë.

2017-11-27 11.14.46

Një kurator (pra, jo Interior Designer apo PR personnel) gjendet shpesh përpara një dileme mbi emërtimin e procesit kuratorial; pra, procesi kuratorial është kulturë? Është art më vete? Është të dyja bashkë? Përgjigjija ime – pra nuk duhet marrë si e vërtetë universale – është se ky proces artistik është kulturë dhe art. Por ç’do të thotë kjo, praktikisht?

Përsa i përket konceptit të metodologjisë, pra asaj ç’ka paraprin dhe themelon idenë e saj, duhet thënë se mënyra dhe mjetet e të prodhuarit janë krejtësisht kulturorë, ndërsa produkti përfundimtar – kuptimi/et që çliron hapësira ekspozitive – është artistik. Pra, arti kuratorial si polifoni është kulturë dhe art: jo njëkohësisht, por gradualisht, në mënyrë të njëpasnjëshme; në fillim kulturë e më pas art, ose arti si pasojë kulturore. Në pak fjalë, arti kuratorial si polifoni është një proces kulturor që prodhon rezultate artistike. Vetëm falë prodhimit të rezultateve ai mund të quhet art (kuratorial), jo vetëm si Τέχνη, pra art si në kuptimin greko-klasik të fjalës, por edhe në kuptimin bashkëkohor të saj (artin e nënkuptoj si akt resistence, siç është përcaktuar prej Gilles Deleuze-it; ndërsa kulturën, prej Jacques Derrida-së, si diçka të dyshimtë midis kultivimit dhe kolonizimit prej së cilës duhet patur gjithnjë kujdes). Por, kjo tingëllon si kontradiktore me çfarë u tha më lart. Pra, pse them që është art kur në fillim qenka kulturë dhe vetëm më pas art? E them këtë sepse, në vetvete, një qasje e tillë përbën një ide artistike mbi kurimin.

Pra arti kuratorial si polifoni është një postulat artistik që kërkon të modulojë procesin kulturor ku jam dhe që më ka lindur – prindërit, familja, shoqëria -, duke evidentuar të gjitha urat lidhëse apo kordonet kërthizore (ura në vetvete është edhe ndërprerje, e rrjedhës së ujit p.sh.) me kulturën e këtyre të fundit. Ky postulat, arti kuratorial si polifoni, paraprin procesin kulturor apo thënë ndryshe organizimin e hapësirës ekspozitive e cila bëhet nëpërmjet bashkëvendosjes së objekteve dhe subjekteve në të njëjtën hapësirë. Dhe, në fund, procesi kulturor paraprin dhe prodhon rezultate artistike.

Që prej herës së parë, kur vendosa të organizoj hapësirën ekspozitive për të përshfaqur “The Gut” – që ishte një produkt artistik edhe i imi (https://vimeo.com/110004456, ndërsa Studio 203 ka një version të vetin) – mendova se do të ishte e nevojshme jo të kuroja veprën e artit apo artistin/tët, që janë a priori të vetëmjaftueshme nga pikëpamja est+etiko-kuptimore, por të kuroja veten (jo si autor i videos me kamera i zhytur në Lumin e fëlliqur të Tiranës, por si autor i eventit) e më pas publikun me atë ç’ka ajo vepër kishte të pakomunikueshme, të ndërprerë, të dështuar, jo vetëm si qëllim i autorëve, por edhe si shkak i rastësisë (Videoja u prodhua në kuadër të eventit 100 KM ART, mbi të ashtuquajturën audostrada Tiranë-Shkodër, dhe u xhirua mbi dhe brenda Lumit të Tiranës dhe tre urave që e ndërprisnin atë).

Kështu, kuptohet që, së pari, arti kuratorial si polifoni nuk ka për qëllim kurimin e veprës së artit, por kurimin e kuratorit/ve e më pas publikut nëpërmjet aspekteve dhe efekteve të saj. Për rrjedhojë edhe interesi im si kurator nuk mund të ishte, nuk ka qenë ndonjëherë e nuk mund të jetë shitshmëria e veprave të artit të artistit/ve. Së dyti, arti kuratorial si polifoni nuk ka për synim kuptimin/et e veprës/ve s/të artit, por nivelin e tyre të kuptueshmërisë/për+shenjueshmërisë. Për rrjedhojë interesi im si kurator është të qarkoj horizontin e eventeve të kuptueshmërisë së veprave të artit në hapësirën kuratoriale, të qarkoj ato skaje ku gjenerohen apo shuhen kuptimet e veprave të artit, ku gjenerohet apo asgjesohet artisti-kurator si subjektivitet. Në këtë mënyrë, mendoj se evidentohet mësëmiri edhe qenia ime si kurator-autor në rravgim kërkimor, pre e rrjedhës së eventeve social-kulturore; si auctor por pa auctoritas, si sub+jectum (i nënshtruar) dhe ob+jectum (i nxjerrë përpara, ekspozuar) në mes të rrjedhës së pakomunikueshmërisë, ndërprerjes apo dështimit etiko-estetik të veprës së artit “The Gut”, induktuar prej rastësive por e amplifikuar edhe prej vetëqëllimshmërisë së auctorit.

Nga njëra në, kështu të montuara, materialet e videos “The Gut”, ishin thuajse të pakompozuara, me qëllim për të evidentuar materialin filmik brut, të papërpunuar – dmth të kuruar, por jo deri në fund -, për t’i dhënë rëndësi dështimeve, ndërprerjeve dhe pakomunikueshmërisë së falimentimeve kuptimore të synuara. Nga ana tjetër, edhe mjedisi i përshfaqjes së videos, nën urën e Kamzës, mbante të njëjtin tonalitet est+etiko-kuptimor, i cili nuk merrte veprën e artit si model por, nga pikëpamja est+etiko-kuptimore, e modulonte atë (në fakt video mbyllet nën urën e Kamzës, në vendin e përshfaqjes, ekspozitës) duke synuar dhe duke u sintonizuar me nivelin dhe kufijtë e saj të kuptueshmërisë (kuptimet që çlironte në marrje dhe dhënie me atë hapësirë specifike, ku rrjedha natyrore e Lumit dhe autostrada “kulturore” – si pjesë e kulturës urbanistike por edhe e eventit artistik 100 KM ART –  ndërpresin lidhjet dhe ndahen me njëra-tjetrën).

The Gut x 100 km Art

The Gut (presentation Tirana Art Lab – 100km Art – Kamza Bridge).

Kështu, duke konsideruar që hapësira ekspozitive (nën)Ura e Kamzës, ishte një mjedis jo tërësisht i kompozuar, ajo krijoi një sinfoni me zhurmat e videos si një rezistencë dhe denoncim i pamundësisë së kompletimit të saj. Në këtë mënyrë, mbetej në rravgim apo pre e rrjedhës së eventeve të pakontrollueshme të fatit (dispozitivëve social-kulturorë) të autorit dhe vullnetit të tij. E lënë kështu në tension hapësira ekspozitive nuk alienohej tërësisht prej Lumit të Tiranës, kontekst i veprës së artit. Ajo synonte, edhe nëpërmjet veprës së artit (si produkt që supozohet të pasurojë kontekstin e vet kulturor), kuptueshmërinë nëpërmjet nuhatjes, dëgjimit, shikimit të pakontrolluar por të stimuluar prej hapësirës në fjalë.

Kjo procedurë ishte një lloj sintonizimi me të gjitha tonalitetet e mundshme të veprës së artit (videon). Kjo e fundit nuk merrte kuptim tjetër pëveç amplifikimit të fshirjes, heqjes, mungesës, dështimit dhe falimentimit të çdo kuptimi (video u instalua nën urë paralelisht me rrjedhën e Lumit dhe spektatori i gjendur përballë kishte parasysh trarët pingul të nënurës që alienojnë botën e poshtme të Lumit prej sipërfaqes mbi urë). Në këtë mënyrë, mund të thuhet se duke u pozicionuar në një hapësirë limbike arti kuratorial si polifoni nuk është një dialog apo dialektikë me dhe nëpërmjet veprës së artit – për t’i dhënë një apo më shumë kuptime publikut – por një fugë purgatoriale pas sintonizimit est+etiko-kuptimor me tonalitetet e kuptueshmërisë së veprës/ave të artit.

The Art of Curating as Polyphony. An Idea on Curating.

What follows is a methodological concept entitled “The Art of Curating as Polyphony”, drawn from my personal experience. Its subtitle is: “An Idea on Curating.” This, in the first place, means that the author of these lines does not intend curating as a service to art or artists, the public or institutions, but to himself. Secondly, does not intend either a relationship (literally in Albanian “takegiving”), but as an exploration and rationalization of the space between taking and giving. Moreover, what is intended to be also evidenced (subtitle), is the methodological idea of ​​creating a device for the production of meanings through the organization of art exhibition spaces. Basically, this means that only an idea on curating can generate art curating ideas. So the artistic ideas coming out from an artwork, within the framework of an exhibition, cannot necessarily be the fruit of the curating and the work of a curator. Many can hang or organize objects within a certain space just like in IKEA; also many can gather artist friends and give them the freedom to organize a space or by interviewing them saying they are doing it within a curatorial concept just like Hans Ulrich Obrist; but not necessarily we call them curators.

A curator (i.e., not Interior Designer or PR personnel) is often faced with a dilemma over naming the curating process; so the curating process is culture? Is it art in itself? Is it both together? My answer – so it should not be taken as universal truth – is that this artistic process is culture and art. But, in practice, what does this mean?

As for the concept of methodology, that is, what precedes and establishes its idea, it must be said that the way and means of production are entirely cultural. While the final product – the meaning/s that liberates the exhibition space – is artistic. So The Art of Curating as Polyphony is culture and art: not simultaneously, but gradually, sequentially; first culture and then art, or art as a cultural consequence. In short, the art of curating as polyphony is a cultural process that produces artistic results. Only thanks to the production of results can it be called art (of curating), not only as Τέχνη, ie as in the Greco-classical sense of the word, but also in its contemporary sense (I intend art as an act of resistance, as defined by Gilles Deleuze; while culture, following Jacques Derrida, as something dubious between cultivation and colonization from which one must always beware). Yet, this sounds contradictory to what was said above. So why do I say that it is art when firstly it is culture and only then art? I say this because, in itself, such an approach constitutes an artistic idea on curating.

So the art of curating as polyphony is an artistic postulate that modulates the cultural processes where I was born (parents, family, society) by identifying all the connecting-interrupting bridges or umbilical cords (the bridge itself is also an interruption, of the flow of water for example). This postulate, the art of curating as polyphony, precedes the cultural process – in other words, the organization of the exhibition space – which is done through the co-location within the same space of objects and subjects. Thus, finally, the cultural process precedes and produces the artistic results.

From the first time, when I decided to organize the exhibition space to display “The Gut” – which was an artistic product of mine (https://vimeo.com/110004456, while Studio 203 has a version of its own) – I thought that it would be necessary not to curate the artwork or artist/s, which are a priori self-sufficient from the aest+ethical-semantic point of view, but to curate myself (not as the author of the video with the camera submerged in the dirty Tirana[s River, but as the author of the event); and then, hopefully, the public, with what uncommunicative, interrupted, failed, not only as a goal of the authors, but also as a result of chance the artwork already had and embodied (The video was produced within the event 100 KM ART, on the so-called Tirana-Shkodra highway, and was shot over and inside the polluted Tirana’s River and the three bridges that interrupted it).

Therefore, it is clear that, firstly, the art of curating as polyphony is not intended to curate the artworks, but the curator/s and then the public through its aspects and effects. Consequently, my interest as a curator has never been, it is not, and will ever be to sell the artist/s artworks. Secondly, the art of curating as polyphony does not aim at the meaning/s of the artwork/s, but at their levels and limits of comprehensibility/semiosis. Consequently, my interest as a curator is to circle the horizon of events of understanding of artworks within the curating space, to circle those limits where the meanings of the artworks are generated or extinguished, where the curator/artist is generated or dissolved as subjectivity. In this way, I think at this point it is clearly evidenced my subjectivity as a curator, a researcher adrift and of the drift, of the flow of socio-cultural events; an auctor but without auctoritas, a sub + jectum (subject, submissive) and ob + jectum (object, brought forward, exposed) in the midst of the flow of non-communication, interruption or aesth+etical failure of the artwork “The Gut”, induced by chance but also amplified by the self-intention of the actor/s.

On the one hand, edited in this way, the “The Gut” was made of almost raw film material – it was curated, but not entirely – to give importance to failures, interruptions, and non-communication of intended semiosis. On the other hand, the video presentation environment, under the Kamza bridge, maintained the same aesth+ ethical-semiotic tonality, which did not take the work of art as a model but, from an aesth+ ethical-semiotic point of view, modulated it (in fact, the video ends under the Kamza Bridge, in the place of display, exhibition) aiming and tuning in with its levels and limits of understanding (the meanings it makes in “takegiving” with that specific space, where the natural flow of the River and the “cultural” highway- intended as part of the urban planning culture but also of the artistic event 100 KM ART – break the ties and separate from each other).

Thus, considering that the exhibition space, Kamza’s (under)Bridge, was an incompleted environment, it created a symphony with the video noises as resistance and denunciation of the impossibility of its completion. In this manner, it remained adrift to the course of events and uncontrollable destiny of (socio-cultural dispositifs) of the author and his will. Thus, through this tension, the exhibition space was not completely alienated from the Tirana’s River, the context of the work of art. But aimed, even through the video-artwork (supposed as a product that enriches its cultural context), the semiosis through sensory sensations (smell, sight, hearing) that came uncontrollably from the space in question.

This procedure was a kind of tuning with all possible tonalities of the video artwork. The latter took on no other meaning than an amplified erasing, missing, failing of any meaning (the video was installed under the bridge parallel to the river flow and the spectator in front had – perpendicularly – the understructure of the Bridge that alienates the underworld of the River from the surface above the bridge). In this way, it can be said that positioned in a limbic space the art curating as polyphony is not a dialogue or dialectic with and through the artwork – to give one or more meanings to the public – but a purgatory fugue after aesth+ ethical-semiotic tuning with tonalities of the artwork/s semiosis.

COVID19 Grant for the artist Romeo Kodra (part IV).

I was granted as an artist, in December 2020, by Finnish Arts Center: “for the working conditions and professional employment of applicants who have lost work orders related to their artistic work or have been prevented from practicing their profession due to the coronavirus pandemic.” Considering that I do not think that my vomit cleaners fellows have had any grant “for the working conditions,” I wanted to maintain a sort of security distance from the institution that granted me, Finnish Arts Center, as well as all other Finnish institutions representing the Finnish State. In this manner, I will try to avoid the infection of being part of the generally accepted narrative of COVID19 out-break-out and the consequent system’s need of social “integration” (of artists, of migrants, etc). I wanted to avoid any kind of integration – mine and my work – within a system that needs “heroes” (because “someone has to do it”) to work by risking the infection (so, I do not deny COVID19 outbreak) to maintain the system working (I deny the narrative of COVID19 breakout, which I do not see in the life and working conditions of my vomit cleaner fellows). Thus, I tried to produce disintegrated and disintegrable artworks that do not refer to COVID19 as a meat grinder but as a consequently logical effect of a psychogenic meat grinder system such as the one I am used to living in since I was born.

[Déjà vu of Déjà vu. I do not know who said it first, but exists in Albania the story of a foreigner (maybe a journalist) defining the capital city, Tirana, more or less, as follows: “I have seen cities without a boulevard, but I have never seen a boulevard without a city such as in the case of Tirana.” A certain Andrea Bulleri, Italian urban planner, quotes it as belonging to Claude Arnaud, a French writer, that seems have visited Albania in the ’70 and placed it as the context of his 1994 autobiographic book Le caméléon. However, I am not quite sure as, to me, it sounds much more older, considering the echo of this phrase in my Albanian ears. Anyway, whatever the truth is, something is sure, the person who said it was somehow quoting Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and her thoughts regarding the Cheshire Cat: “Well! I have often seen a cat without a grin … but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!” Yet, the most curious thing, for me, is that the boulevard, as a grin, often is perceived as a smile, and maybe a large one in urban terms. But this smile is like the smile of Victor Hugo’s L’Homme qui rit. It is more like a cut, an erasure, if considered that the boulevard, according its etymology, was a fortification wall. Only after the destruction of Bastille‘s walls the boulevard was used, by the reactionary forces that came out of Congress of Vienna and Enlightened Absolutism (Haussmann’s boulevards in Paris and Ringstrasse in Vienna are perfect examples), as an urban dispositive of openness that glorifies the will of the political and economical power holders (ancien régime and the bourgeoisie) as well as their need of absolute control.
In Tirana, the dispositive of the boulevard was transplanted as a calcified method: alliance, between the Albanian version of the ancien régime (Albania’s self declared King Zog and his government) and bourgeoisie (Italian fascist government and Albanian collaborators); as well as a smiling grin, which erased unilaterally part of the original urban texture, vanished without traces (“this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.”)
In Helsinki, the boulevard is not anymore a method; from the last urban plan (2016), it is a methodology named “boulevardisation” (transformation of highways in city boulevards), which intends to make a more eco-sustainable city(?) as well as a more open city (?) to accept more migrants (neoliberal propaganda to justify the densification). In Helsinki the dispositive of the boulevard of course was transplanted calcified as an alliance as well as a smiling grin, but here, methodologically, the alliance is more complex as it comprehends almost all political parties (neoliberal and neoconservative), the academics (private and public universities), an army of artists and cultural operators with their representative institutions as well as private philanthropic foundations of private companies/industries directly involved with the urban development.]

I decided to respond to the psychogenic contexts through schizophrenic artworks (Los retablos de las maravillas – two photographs of two drawings/paintings; Entr’acte: El video retablo de las maravillas – video). This means that taken separately, the first component of these artworks – el retablo of the Albanian fetus – through its declared pathetism tries to tune the institutional pathos of helping artists (especially migrants, when the institutions are run by neoliberals) during COVID19; the second component – el retablo of the Finnish coffin – through its declared pathetism tries to tune the pathos of helping natural environment (especially within the national state borders, when the institutions are run by neoconservatives); and the third component – el video retablo – through its declared pathetism tries to tune with the overall theatrical pathos of the times we live in (In TAIKE’s website the last of three evaluation criteria, after Professionalism of the Applicant and the Working Plan, is Reduction in work and income due to the COVID-19 pandemic … for which my vomit cleaner fellows were happy considering that the reduction in work meant less vomit quantity to clean, which, by the way, did not produce reduction in incomes because they were payed according predefined/fixed working hours for the cleansing of all public transportation buses). Therefore, in these artworks, there is no originality, no new model, nor a new role of the artist within a larger social level. The produced artworks are schizo-modulations of already existing (often psycho-, but not always) models/roles such as my personal auto-bio-geo-graphy; the polyphonic paintings of Paul Klee; an unedited artwork of Dritan Hyska where is used the google translator voice to read the Italian Labor Law in a foreign (non-Italian) language; extracts from Antonin Artaud’s Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu. And, considering that my art started with a quote from Leibniz “conatus is to motion as a point is to space, or as one to infinity, for it is the beginning or end of motion,” and if for Paul Klee “a line is a dot that went for a walk“, then these artworks correspond to vomit that went for a walk, from Tirana’s Boulevard (Maternity Hospital, where I am born) to the boulevards of The Boulevardisation of Helsinki. However, although separately these artworks include the dichotomy neoliberal/neoconservative narrative, altogether, maybe because the of intrinsic denial of originality, models, and roles as well as the declared intention of schizo-modulation, these artworks, hopefully, are not reciprocally included in the mainstream narrative. At least this was my intention.

COVID19 Grant for the artist Romeo Kodra (part III).

I highly recommend to everyone the vomit cleaning work experience inside Helsinki’s and Espoo’s public transportation buses during the night shift for 10,67€ per hour (without calculating the taxes … please google the average wages in Finland). If nothing else, it gives meaning and a dream interpreting cipher to those, especially migrants like myself, disoriented within the real heterotopia of the world’s happiest country. Illuminating in this sense were also the personal stories of the workers (all migrants, of course): a Tamil that, eager to emigrate (destination: EU!), sold everything in his posses, paid 25.000$ to human traffickers which abandoned him in one of Erdogan’s concentration camps (operating thanks to EU funds) and constricted to pay another 25.000$ (he is still, after four years, paying his cousin from London that helped him) to “the officials” just for being thrown somewhere in an unknown Greek island; a Kurd journalist from Baghdad that have mentioned the corruption affairs of a politician in a daily newspaper and for this constricted to abandon his life in less than two hours; a Syrian that hates the socialists as well as the Americans and cannot understand why I “cannot see how socialist the Americans are” … but he admires Trump and sympathizes for a communist world (I think my friend’s weltanschauung is an interesting case study for geopolitical think tankers); a Bangladeshi, that was so incredulous when he learns that I know what kathakali is, for this reason, to change his shift only to talk to me about the dances of his country; etc. But the most illuminating was the outbreak of COVID19.

There was some terrible news, between March and April 2020, coming from my parents living in Bergamo, Italy. The COVID19 was causing deaths never seen in the livings’ memory. My father told me Bergamo reminded him of Sarajevo 1992, without bomb outbreaks but with COVID19 outbreaks, and, of course, more ambulance siren sounds. Meanwhile, in Espoo, I and my fellows had a problem: what to do with the alcohol tester, without blowing on which we could not start, clean, and fuel the public transportation buses? I contacted my supervisor that contacted the bus company office about this problem. “We will let you know as soon as possible” was the answer. Meantime, following the government’s advise, I and my fellows were informed by the company on how to wash the hands, how to use the hand sanitizer, and also how to wear a face mask. However, a week later we had a mouthpiece for the alcohol tester of 30 to 50 buses we had to work with every night. I told to the supervisor that this is not very intelligent considering that I will put the same mouthpiece in 30-50 different alcohol testers. After seeing him shrugging I thought was better to go directly to the bus company offices. There, when I asked for the mouthpieces, the desk officer thought I had lost mine and gave me a new one with the advice “Try not to lose it!”. I said, ” I need 50 mouthpieces!” after which the desk officer looked at me like I was joking. But when I explained the problem he understood. Yet, I could not have more than three mouthpieces that he had in his office. However, he promised the bus company “will find a solution”. After a week or so, I got a tubular junction for the alcohol tester mouthpiece.

“Is this a joke!” I said to the desk officer. “Yes? What do you suggest, though?” he asked after my rhetoric question. “I dream you could deactivate the buses’ alcohol testers,” I replied. “No, that’s not possible,” he said. “Why?” I asked genuinely. “Because of security reasons. Don’t you know that?”. I told him, “Yes, I know about your security reasons.” That was the last time I asked regarding protection dispositive for coronavirus.

I and my Tamil fellow got ill for four or five days each but nothing happened to us. The other fellows used to say that we were lucky because we already passed through COVID19, but I think it was just the normal flu, because of our low immune system, considering that the Tamil guy used to work 12-16 hours in two working places (he, after the night shift, worked in another place where he used to clean the cabins of the Helsinki-Tallinn ferries) and I used to walk (6+6km) to my working place to spare 120€ per month for the bus tickets. With my fellows we talked a lot about the outbreaks of COVID19, its genesis in a wet market in Wuhan, or the more or less conspiratory theory of the Chinese government intentionally spreading the virus, or its contrary according to which it is the US government spreading the virus. Yet, from all the theories we had the same result: the problem is the system. A system that pressures on animals (bats) living space and conditions or the superpowers’ (US, China, EU, Russia, etc.) antagonism for the supremacy within the system. The sure thing is that the system is not with and/or for us, because after COVID19 outbreaks, for us, there were no breakouts: we could not work remotely or just quit the job as we had to feed our families and ourselves. On contrary, strange enough (or maybe not so strange), COVID19 outbreaks eased and helped our job, considering that there was no vomit to clean and, generally, the public transportation buses were cleaner as, because of COVID19, fewer people traveled to avoid contact with other people.

On June 2nd, 2020 I quit my job as I was involved with the European Commission for the evaluation of research, art, and cultural cooperation projects (projects up to 2 or 4 million €) where I am paid better (450€ per day). Of course, it is a freelance job and the precariousness is always incumbent (one does not work every day), but in this case, unlike vomit cleaners, maybe because of the “nobility” or “elitist” kind of job, the system protects the employees.

Yet, because of the COVID19 travel restrictions, I feel like in Albania before 1996: in a coffin.

“I feel like in Albania before 1996: in a coffin.”
Mixed technique on paper (drawing/painting: gesso paint, ink, chunky graphite) 21cm x 29cm.

COVID19 Grant for the artist Romeo Kodra (part II).

A dream scene. That’s what it was. Once more, it was January 6th, not 1996, but in 2016 when I first came to Finland. Yet, to make sure that the perception was real and not a dream, there were -25 degrees … -25 windy degrees. It was challenging to maintain the same convincing and persuading capacity in front of my sister, to whom I, for months before, suggested to transfer with her one-and-a-half-year-old son in Finland. Why? Because Finland is the happiest country in the world, especially for the quality of the education system … even Michael Moore knows that … so, to continue our Bosnian-Albanian family muhaxhir tradition, I suggested “invade” Finland (see Where to Invade Next).

From Vantaa airport to Haukilahti there is 30 minutes drive. From Kehä 1 (Ring 1, which is the zipper axis that connects Helsinki with Vantaa and Espoo making possible the developing Greater Helsinki Region) to Länsiväylä (Western Highway) the landscape was a combination of forests and industrial or contemporary buildings. Once in Länsiväylä the sea appeared … frozen. At Tapiola’s overpass, the taxi driver entered Westend, taking Westendintie, which he left at the corner of Linnake (Fortress), entering finally Haukilahti. The view of Toppelundintie reminded me Tirana’s boulevard, but without buildings … only 20-30 meters high trees wrapped, frozen, in the snow forming a dense white wall. 200 meters ahead the taxi driver turned left and drove up to Pitkänkalliontie where a white building with prefabricates similar to Enver Hoxha’s scientific state socialism ones appeared to me as a perfect joke of someone or some unknown force to stimulate my absent childhood nostalgia. After unloading the luggage in the middle of an almost empty but very warm apartment, I turned at my sister and said: “I don’t know how and when, but I will not stay here only for this month, just to help you with the ‘integration and general settling’ … I will come again, because living here seems like living in a painting.” I still am not sure about the meaning of my sister’s facial expression, whether was related to the -25 windy degrees, to the worry of having to be alone after a month with a small child in a foreign country, or to the disbelief of having a brother so insensitive and out of his mind.

On May 25, 2019 I arrived with my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and her mother in the apartment of Pitkänkalliontie, where the smiles of my sister and nephew were waiting for us. However, the above-mentioned facial expression of my sister of 2016 wasn’t gone. It just had moved on the face of my partner. Yet, the almost Mediterranean temperatures of Haukilahti’s summer of 2019 helped a lot to relax every one of us. In addition, in few weeks I found a job and everything was going in the right direction. Thus, with a work contract in my hand, I went to Helsinki’s MIGRI Office for the work permit and registration of residence. There, surprisingly, I found that as a migrant, and not an EU citizen (for whom the procedure is immediate), I had to wait from four to six or more months to have my Finnish Residence and Work Permit. I protested, kindly (considering the kindness of the officer), regarding the difference of treatment, especially when I am in posses of an EU Work and Residence Permit for Long Term Residents released by Italian authorities (as I lived in Italy for more than 10 years), which, by the way, are possible to have from the Finnish MIGRI Office if one is a migrants living in Finland for more than 10 years. The officer was so polite and kind to remind me that she was “very sorry” and “this is the Finnish law”, to which I replied that I was “more than sorry to have paid in Italy taxes for EU thinking that Finland was part of it”. The discussion regarding the meaning of “Finland is EU” went long and, neither she nor I won in the end.

[Déjà vu. I left the Albanian coffin on January 6th, 1996 to join INKER Zaprešić, a football club of the first Croatian League where I passed only a few weeks, because another club, HNK Gospić, came with an offer I couldn’t refuse: full-service accommodation in Hotel Velebno, 8000 Deutsche Marks at the beginning of the first year (which served for my sister’s ballet school fee in Baku), 7000 at beginning of the second year, 500 Deutsche Marks per month plus premiums per win and/or goal, as well as the possibility to play on free days (which was Sunday) for the lower league team of Novalja where I could gain some extra per game. Yet, after my parents moved from Albania to Italy in March 1997, my father got badly injured risking both his feet in a factory, in Grasobbio, where he was working. For this reason, at the beginning of 1998, I decided to move to Italy and sign for US Leffe, an Italian club of Serie C. The move was a bargain for the club, because of a special law (being under 21, I benefited from Bosman Ruling and one of its commas, regarding the players that have signed the contract at 18-years-old or less). Because of that law, I could move without US Leffe having to pay for the interruption of my contract. But above all, it was a bargain for me, considering that I could stay finally in Bergamo with my family, which from 1990 was somehow scattered here and there because of the Bosnian war and Albanian State collapse and consequent migratory experiences. But, when everything seemed done, an Italian law impeded me to sign the contract as a non EU player/migrant with less than two years of residence in Italy. So, if I wanted to play in Serie C, I had to wait two years before playing the first game (Three years later a Nigerian player sued the Italian Federation and changed the law). It was strange, because as a migrant worker one could have the residence and work permit immediately after showing the contract, but as a professional football player this was not possible. I don’t know whether I was more angry or depressed. Yet, Roberto Spagnolo, a good man, Leffe’s director now having a lot of success in Atalanta, encouraged me by saying that two years were nothing and I could still sign with the team, and meanwhile play for a “dilettanti” team without losing a penny of my stipend. Yet, just the name “dilettanti” for me was a joke, especially after dreams with UEFA or Champions League (there were some talking between the HNK Hrvatski Dragovoljac and Gospić). In four months I was so depressed that I remember vaguely having left the apartment even for a walk around “le mura di Città Alta”. However, in the summer of 1998, a shocking image saved me: Ronaldo, il Fenomeno, descending the stairs of the airplane in Brazil after risking his life and still playing on the same day of the World Cup Final in 1998. I just understood the shitty world I was angry and depressed for. In two weeks I found a job. With other my fellows from the Balkans, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Senegal, Morocco I enjoyed unloading by hands DHL’s smelly trucks for a so-called cooperative which used to change several times its name to avoid taxes and made profits exploiting migrant workers.]

During the first five months in Finland, without a clear legal status, I spent all my savings and learned a lot about Finnish migration laws. I learned, for example, that in Finland does not exist a Constitutional Court (in Albania some EU and US representative-prostitutes give the lack of an operative Constitutional Court as a justification after the adjustment of which everything will start to be “normal” and Albania will be integrated finally within EU family!!!), an institutional body which checks the Parliament’s laws coherence, especially, as in my case, when these laws contradict the EU laws. In this manner, to have his right recognized, a bottomless pocket migrant like me would have to sue MIGRI Office and wait for the decision (My Finnish law expert friend advised me to avoid this enterprise, especially after considering my “financial resilience”!). I also learned – from my kind colleagues of Europe Direct Contact Center – that, only a member state court can decide and annul a decision taken by member state institutions and not an EU body or authority (But, hey, I learned that I have the right to submit a petition – Article 227 TFEU – to the European Parliament … yew haw!). I can also contact the Finnish Ombudsman, which I did, the general one and Parliamentary one, the task of which are “to promote equality and handle cases of discrimination [as well as] promote the rights of foreigners in Finland”. Thus, I discovered that “taking into consideration the matters [I] raised, concerning the rights of long-term EU-residents, in [Ombudsman’s] work to promote non-discrimination, to the extent that this is possible[…], unfortunately, [they] cannot do more to help me”, because, “based on the information [I] provided, [my] case is already being handled by the competent and appropriate authority.” (extracts from e mail date: 04.07.2019)

By the end of September 2019, my Finnish law expert friend asked me: “Do you understand that being of Albanian origins and having a family – mother, father, sister, daughter, and partner – all with Italian passports, to a MIGRI officer you can easily be suspicious? One can think, for example, that you were not allowed to take the Italian passport because – maybe – you have criminal records. Why don’t you change your citizenship, or, considering that exists as a possibility, at least take a second one?” I didn’t reply as I could, because my friend is a kind person and seems believe sincerely in his candid Finnishness and is proud of it. But, considering that I abhor anything that has to do with identification, especially by a state, a national state, I think even the idea of having a passport is aberrant and vomiting. To me, the passport – not only the Albanian – is not worthy of cleaning my ass.

So, what I did, even because after five months I was without a penny, was changing the application at MIGRI: not at as a long term EU resident asking residence and work permit in Finland, but as a parent of an EU citizen (as father of my “Italian” daughter). And to MIGRI, as to any other institution of any state, just as to the Albanian military doctor of 1996, romancing with my nether regions is its reason of existing. ON November 6th 2019, I joined other my fellows from the Iraq, Kurdistan, Sri Lanka, enjoying parking and cleaning public transportation buses of Helsinki and Espoo, where the first Finnish words I learned, from WhatsApp messages arriving from the central office, were: “oksennus pesu” followed by the number of bus. And to me this made a lot of sense …!

COVID19 Grant for the artist Romeo Kodra (part I).

In December 2020 I was granted by the Center for the Promotion of Art of Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture with “COVID-19 grant for artists[,…] 4000 euros, which is intended to cover two months of work [ as] short-term support for the working conditions and professional employment of applicants who have lost work orders related to their artistic work or have been prevented from practicing their profession due to the coronavirus pandemic” (link: https://www.taike.fi/en/newsitem/-/news/1337219).

Being my research focused on the “boulevard” as a historical urban dispositif of power for visual and cultural
integration of the other/ness (migrants intended as “the other” and nature with its landscape intended as “the otherness’ par excellence), I thought to produce some artistic content maintaining the same focus.

The context is auto-bio-geo-graphical: Albania and Finland. Both, as nation-states, have in common more or less the period of independence (Albania/1912, Finland/1917), the particular languages, which differentiate from the predominant European languages, as well as a strong cultural and mythological oral tradition. Yet, despite the radical social, economical, and political differences (where Finland is considered as an advanced democracy and Albania still as a transitional society), the last urban practices (Helsinki Urban Plan 2017 with its “boulevardisation” as well as this year’s Helsinki Vision for Art and Culture 2030 and Tirana Urban Plan 2016), with all their supporting institutions, discourses, legislations as well as imaginaries, present similarities which are strictly related with the cultural shift, from industrial to post-industrial societies, where neoliberal post-bourgeois governmentality pressure on the sense of cultural inferiority of Finns and Albanians (the concept of acculturation will be analyzed).

The topic of my research “Iconology and Iconographies of Boulevard: from Boulevard to Boulevardization and BoulevARTization”, imposes iconography as the method of the research, which consists in collecting, classifying, and producing imag(inari)es (‘image’ intended as ‘bild’: see in Hans Belting) of the boulevard as well as their cultural analysis, which, altogether, serve to define the mythological archetypes (see in Carl Jung) inscribed within wider contemporary urban and cultural iconography. Therefore these artworks are my iconographic and iconological contribution to contemporary produced imag(inary)es.

The first objective of my research is to define, through iconology and boulevard’s iconography, the mythologem (see in Károly Kerény) of “separation/conjunction of opposites” and the archetypal image of “the industrious”, which are fundamentally related with the boulevard, since its first appearance (replacement of Paris’ old bastions, 1668, with the first documented boulevard) and etymology (Middle Dutch ‘bolwerc’: walls of fortification/bastions). The second objective is to analyze the persistence of both, “separation/conjunction of opposites” mythologem as well as the archetypal image of “the industrious”, and the ways through which these two nurtured the systemic changes and adaptations, from mercantile to industrial, and postindustrial societies.

I do not remember if it is a real story that happened to me or someone told it to me as a kind of joke and then I turned it, as in a dream, into a real story that happened to me. I remember being in a queue for a liter of milk in 1990, in Tirana (who has experienced the crisis of scientific socialism, knows what I am talking about). It’s not dawn yet, but it’s not completely dark either. I thought I was going to be first in the queue, but I saw 7, 8 people preceded me. The strange thing is that they were laughing under their breath. I hated them. I don’t know if I hated them more for preceding me or for being in a good mood at 5 am. But I understood immediately why when my best childhood friend Cubeli made me a sign to look at who was the first in the queue: a small half-bust of Enver Hoxha produced at the time as a souvenir by Ndërmarrja Artistike “Migjeni”. So, Cubeli – who was always first in line, was often used to throwing away things (such as plastic shopping bags) that people (which we called bytha t’zgjuta/ smart-ass’) left the night before to “take a front-row seat” in the milk queue -, this time, could not dare to do anything. And the others were pissing him off with their sarcastic comments for his lack of courage. After a while, with other people queuing in, the event opened a debate, where for the first time I so an open political dissent and heard critics against the government. And is there, that, for the first time, I heard someone saying that “we Albanians are like in a prison”, “we, in Albania, live like in a grave” and someone other adding that “Even our map looks like a coffin …”.

"Even our map looks like a coffin …" mixed technique on paper (drawing/painting-gesso paint, ink, chunky graphite) 21cm x 29cm.
“Even our map looks like a coffin …”
Mixed technique on paper (drawing/painting: gesso paint, ink, chunky graphite) 21cm x 29cm.

I do not remember if it is a real story that happened to me or someone told it to me as a kind of joke and then I turned it, as in a dream, into a real story that happened to me. I remember in 1994 going with the other guys from “Ismail Qemali” High School to make the first pre-military check-up visit. Near Ura e Tabakëve in Tirana, there was a small military garrison with an improvised visit room. The doctor waiting for us smiled behind the table and said something about the usual jokes on military visits, but to relax our contracted faces, not at all in the mood for jokes, added: “I would like to leave the door open if you agree, so you’ll see that is not that terrifying this check-up.” After seeing the hands of the military doctor romancing with the nether regions and bottoms of my friends, when he called my name I refused and went out. Because of the military police night controls – which my mother told me continued almost twice a year until 1997 when my family went to Bergamo – for 18 months I didn’t sleep at home but passed the nights at my grandparents or uncles, until January 6th, 1996, when I left and emigrated from the coffin.

On August 7th, 2011, I turned back to Albania with a passport from Bosnia Herzegovina, which I got in 1996 because of my father’s origins. Being without a visa and having the Albanian passport expired since 1996 I passed several hours with a policeman in the airport’s police station declaring who I was and why I was “visiting” Albania. At 2 am, I was released by the police and went to my uncle’s home. The first thing I noticed when I came out of the gates of the police station was a banner promoting the population census of 2011.

“Piramida: një analizë” e padëshiruar. (Romeo Kodra)

Para pak ditësh pashë online njërën prej serive të emisionit ARTES të RTSH (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY5tLO8O888), drejtuar prej Elsa Demos, e të titulluar “Piramida: një analizë”. Të ftuar në studio ishin Artan Raça, arkitekt i lirë (cit. Elsa Demo); Skënder Luarasi, arkitekt-pedagog në Universitetin Polis; Edmond Manahasa, drejtues i departamentit të arkitekturës të Universitetit Epoka; dhe, lidhur via Skype, Pirro Vaso, njëri prej projektuesve të ish-muzeut “Enver Hoxha” sëbashku me Vladimir Bregun, Pranvera Hoxhën dhe Klement Kolanecin. Kureshtja prej titullit më bëri ta ndjek të gjithin, nga fillimi në fund.

Pa kaluar shumë, në minutën 8.10 drejtuesi i departamentit të arkitekturës së Universitetit Epoka, nga lartësia e njohurive të tij historiko-arkitekturore të shprehura në një studim të vogël mbi “Piramidën” që ka ndjellë Elsa Demon aq shumë sa e ftoi në studio, tha që objekti “ka qenë ndërtuar si një mauzoleum për ish-diktatorin” (këtë idiotizëm gjithashtu e ka shkruar që në rreshtat e para të studimit të tij sëbashku me Odeta Durmishi Manahasën hedhur në researchgate.net).

Më pas, të fundit në rradhë, iu dha fjala arkitektit Pirro Vaso, i cili specifikoi që mbi projektin e ri të “Piramidës”, ndryshe nga sa e prezantoi Elsa Demo, nuk dinte gjë, pavarësisht se ishte dakort që të ndërhyej e të mos lihej “si gërmadhë”. Por kishte natyrisht mendimin e tij mbi procesin e ndëryrjes dhe, përsa i përket këtij të fundit, sqaroi duke thënë që problemi qëndron tek mungesa e vënies në dukje se “Piramida” është projektuar prej “Institutit nr. 1 të Ndërtimit” dhe ai ishte njëri prej katër drejtuesve të projektit.

Si zakonisht në emisionet televizive shqiptare ku nuk flitet shqip, por bërtitet shqipja, shpeshherë e çalë, askush nuk ua vë veshin atyre që kanë njohuri mbi ç’ka thonë më shumë sesa atyre që nuk kanë asnjë ide mbi ç’ka thonë shpesh duke bërtitu për të plotësuar zbrazëtinë e njohurive. Madje kur dëgjoi që arkitekti nuk kishte kundërshti ndaj ndërhyrjes së MVRDV, Elsa, që kujton se kundërshtimi i kafshërive të Edi Ramës mjafton për të artikuluar një vizion bote e botkuptimi, i sugjeroi një “Poooooor” nga studioja që më solli ndërmend një kastravec si Blendi Fevziu kur mundohet t’i nxjerrë si me grep nga goja bashkëbiseduesve fjalët që ai pret prej tyre.

Duke njohur deri diku Pirro Vason e kuptova menjëherë rrjedhën që do merrte “analiza”. Dhe në fakt Elsa Demo, duke kuptuar tjetër për tjetër ngaqë është rritur në Shqipërinë e tranzicionit dhe merret përditë me shqiptarë që prej tranzicionit u kanë rrjedhur trutë, specifikoi që të gjitha prezantimet kishin qenë me përmendjen “korrekte të emrave dhe datës të projektimit” të “Piramidës”, a thua se është emri ç’ka i intereson Pirro Vasos, i cili është aq i kulturuar e me edukatë sa të mos nxjerrë ndonjë fjalë të rëndë kur sheh këtë lloj niveli. Fati i tij i keq, dhe i imi që dëgjova deri në fund emisionin, është se kujton që në emisione të cilat mbajnë në titull fjalën analizë do të flitet për analizë, ndaj mesa duket kishte specifikuar çështjen e punës së Institutit nr.1 dhe veten si njëri prej drejtuesve të projektit dhe jo si autor. Kjo do të thotë, për shqiptarët që bërtasin shqip por “nuk hajnë shqip”, që Pirro Vasos nuk i intereson të ndryshojë historinë e tij duke thënë që është autor, sepse “Piramida” është produkt i një pune grupi dhe merita siç ndahej një herë e një kohe, kur disa fjalë kishin kuptimin që thuhej se duhet të kishin, ishte e grupit, madje jo vetëm e 4 drejtuesve por edhe e Institutit nr.1 të Ndërtimit të Repulikës Popullore Socialiste të Shqipërisë (dmth: produkt i arkitekturës shqiptare i viteve ’80 dhe pjesë e historisë së saj). Kjo natyrisht është jo vetëm e pakonceptueshme por mesa duket edhe literalisht e pakuptueshme në Shqipërinë dhe prej shqiptarëve të tranzicionit.

Një njeriu që kupton shqipen paksa përtej alfabetizimit duhej t’i kishte vrarë veshin probematika e mospërfilljes, e qëllimshme për mendimin tim, së drejtuesve të projektit të “Piramidës” si dhe të drejtat e tyre legjitime, madje edhe më tepër kur projekti nga pas ka vulën e një institucioni si ai i Nërtimit nr.1 që e klasifikon si produkt specifik brenda një historie arkitekturore, institucionale e kombëtare që ende mesa duket nuk dimë apo nuk duam ta shkruajmë. Por, ndoshta, ngaqë kjo analizë nuk është shumë seksi dhe rrezikon t’u bëjë trutë lesh e li bërtitësve dhe analfabetëve të formuar prej spektakleve opinionformues televizivë shmanget prej 30 e kusur vitesh.

Pirro Vaso vazhdoi duke specifikuar në terma teoriko-teknik që projekti i MVRDV është një Adaptive Reuse Project, i cili mund të debatohet prej atyre që kanë instrumenta dhe njohuri konceptuale për analizim specifik. Por, kujt i hyri në vesh? Gjithsesi pasi Vaso specifikoi mospërfilljen dhe mospraninë shurdhuese të drejtuesve ende të gjallë të projektit edhe Elsa pohoi që nuk ka pasur ekspertë të pranishëm (a thua se është problem vetëm gjithëpërfshirja) që merren me arkitekturën e trashëgiminë gjatë procesit të aprovimit, konceptimit dhe prezantimit të projektit të MVRDV. Dhe, thënë kjo, në emision e Elsës ekspertët nuk mungonin.

Kështu fjala iu dha arkitektit të lirë Artan Raça që unë e kam patur koleg në Universitetin Polis por që përtej pispillosjes me rroba me ngjyra dhe syze trendy (talentet karakterizuese për arkitektët e famshëm të tranzicionit shqiptar) nuk e njihja. Ndërsa punën ia njoha vetëm pak vite më parë kur ish-Ministrja Mirela Kumbaro fshiu një vilë monument kulture të viteve 20 pas ish-stadiumit Qemal Stafa ku ndritste në tabela emri i projektuesit të mrekullisë së ardhshme arkitektonike, Artan Raça, por jo ermit i arkitektit të monumentit të kulturës së fshirë (që unë e di cili është por që është më mirë të mbetet i fshirë ose kush ka qejf le të argëtohet ta gjurmojë vetë apo të pyes të ftuarin tjetër në studion e ARTES arkitektin Skënder Luarasi).

Raça kishte idetë e qarta për “mauzoleun e Enver Hoxhës” dhe, thjeshtë, nuk i njeh asnjë lloj kompleksiteti (“Ku është kompleksiteti këtu? Nëse ia shtojmë dhe e dramatizojmë tani është tjetër gjë, por për mua nuk ka vend. […] dhe ai nuk është një objekt i bukur”, paçka se vite më parë, siç u përmend në një artikull të tij kur ishte për fshirjen e “Piramidës” dhe ndërtimin e një parlamenti sipas urdhërit të Sali Berishës, nuk e merrte të bukurën si parametër “për të prishur një objekt”).

Ndërsa Skënder Luarasi ishte disi më i përmbajtur dhe mundohej të hapte një diskutim për të analizuar nga pikëpamja e prurjes së modernitetit dhe monumentalizmin e tij (thyerja dhe rimarrja e historisë), por pa thënë asgjë konkrete mbi lidhjen e tyre me “Piramidën”. Ai foli pak për një lloj ndjenje sublimiteti që sheh se përcjell objekti në fjalë, por që për mendimin tim nuk ka lidhje me asgjë trashendentale (pjesë e së cilës është sublimja), përveçse me sfondin e Dajtit si rimë pamore me kontekstin natyror të Tiranës (pra, jo qiellore, jo sublime).

Fjala i kaloi, pas më shumë se gjysëm ore, Pirro Vasos që përsëriti, me aq sa mundte pa iu ndërprerë fjala prej ndërhyrjeve inteligjente të Elsës nga studioja, që “Piramida” është projektuar si multi-funksionale, me një hapësirë racionale por jo të ngurtë, me një performativitet në kohë dhe hapësirë (ndryshe perceptohet, lexohet e ndërveprohet me “Piramidën” nga njëra anë në tjetrën të saj, qoftë edhe nga fasada e pestë/parë nga sipër), që nuk ka qenë ndonjëherë mauzole, por muze (Pirro Vaso tha gabimisht “muze për Enver Hoxhën”, por ndoshta ngaqë nuk kishte kohë për të folur dhe trajtimi skandaloz që iu bë, sepse “Piramida” u bë muze për të “shënuar arritjet e Repulikës Popullore Socialiste të Shqipërisë” dhe vetëm emrin kishte “Enver Hoxha” … kjo është mirë të specifikohet sepse ndoshta analfabetët do kujtojnë se edhe Kombinati i Autotraktorëve apo “Uzina Enver” ishin apo punonin për Enver Hoxhën personalisht).

Por, pasi Pirro Vaso vuri në dukje që ai kishte pranuar ftesën e emisionit për të folur për projektin dhe jo për të hedhur poshtë të vjetrën, ajo që dëgjon një vesh i shurdhuar prej pëllamave të tranzicionit, që nuk njeh jo vetëm kulturë, por as edukatë e mirësjellje, është “Më fal ne po diskutojmë për jetën e objektit dhe jeta e objektit nuk mund të kuptohet pa jetën që ai ka pasur. Nëse kjo pjesë e diskutimit duket e pavendt, më vjen keq, por nuk mund të jetë kështu” (cit. Elsa Demo). Pirro Vaso, pasi ka dëgjuar idiotësitë me mauzole (që ai i quan “interpretime dhe opinione” ngaqë është njeri me edukatë edhe kur ka të bëjë me hajvanë), flet sërisht qetësisht për marrëdhënie hapësinore të objektit me bulevardin, me Kryeministrinë, me Hotel Dajtin, me kontekstin natyror/malin e Dajtit; për marrëdhënie të objektit me njeriun (ato që u përmendën pak më sipër); dhe ajo që dëgjon, kur thotë se janë këto gjërat që mendonte për të cilat ishte ftuar, është se “ne po diskutojmë për jetën e objektit”.

Me kafshëri të tilla është e kotë, nuk dilet askund përtej rrethrrotullimit pështjellosës tranzicional 30-vjeçar. Është më mirë të mos lexojmë “Piramidën” që është i vetmi objekt që njëkohësisht del nga rreshti i ndërtimeve të bulevardit fashist/fascio littorio, i vetmi që thyen vertikalitetin e fasadave dhe mbylljen hermetike të tyre … është më mirë të dëgjojmë Artan Raçën që si papagall predikon zhvillimin urban drejt periferive sepse nuk i pëlqen që qyteti të ndërtohet në bulevard, të cilin ai nuk ia ka idenë sesi lexohet.

Reading Pajtim Statovci’s Crossing/Tiranan Sydän … or The Unbearable Lightness of Being from Orient, Balkans, Communist Blok, Albania and a Coup de Théâtre. Part IV. (Romeo Kodra)

Occorre fare inizialmente un tale inventario.
Quaderni del carcere, Antonio Gramsci.

Aesthetics of Existence. The hegemonic discourse of neoliberal institutions have managed to extrapolate, decontextualize and domesticate Foucauldian or Deleuzian concepts and turn them in catchy slogans through which are filtered cultural industry productions of post-industrial societies. In this manner, processes of de-subjectivisation, de-individualisation or de-institutionalization are transformed, through dispositifs of political power, in prolific processes of ego production, which, in the case of Statovci’s narrator’s voice of Tiranan Sydän, regard a post-bourgeois class made of former homoeroticized migrants in Finnish contemporary society.

Tiranan Sydän‘s lack of novelty in terms of discourse as well as in linguistic terms attracts the attention on the absolute lack of resistance of the narrator’s voice, which seems as a fish in water, floating unperturbed the dispositif of power of narrative discourse, this last intended as a genre or metagenre (Bakhtin). There is no fugue outside of this discourse. There is no authentic transgression or desire of narrator’s voice. If there is any, it is through a hermetic, unsolved relationship with animals and myth intended as otherness or a supposed provocative homoerotisation of a relationship between two Albanian youngsters of the Nineties:

[H]e would be a respected brain surgeon who would save orphaned children, women, and the elderly, and I would do something else, I would assist him or get a job of my own unblocking drains, pipes, and sinks or building highways. (142)

which are teleologically already reality and easily achievable in Finland:

I imagine that if I had grown up in a country like this, I would have read so many books that I wouldn’t have been able to keep my eyes open, I would have gotten myself a university education and joined a respected profession, I would have lived the best life possible and made those closest to me positively burst with pride. (p.198)

Therefore, the I or the narrator’s voice, as a subject, is produced within the territory of the other, yet not through a process of subjectivization, opening a new discursive or linguistic territory to widen the existing one, but through a process of subjectification, wearing an already existing and recognizable mask of the territory of the other (migrant from former Eastern Blok/Orient/Balkan, belonging to Islamic religion, lgbtiq …etc.).

This production of subjectivity through self-subjectification in the territory of the other in contemporary Albanian literature as well as art is very common. The most famous in literature is the psychotic case of Ismail Kadare, the writer par excellence of the past state socialist regime, which beyond the 180 degree change of weltanschauung as consequence of the change of regime, has opportunistically re-written several passages of the past publications to tune in the same wavelength of the narrative discourse in power (Ke, Jing, “The four others in I. Kadare’s works : a study of the Albanian national identity.” link accessed on 06/01/2021).

However, in Statovci’s Tiranan Sydän towards the end the subjectification or giving to the other what the other expects becomes suspect because of its obviousness:

I sit down at the front of the church, pull my new pendant bearing the cross from my beg, and place it around my neck, and when a priest greets me by nodding in my direction with the subtlest of gestures, like a barely perceptible brushstroke, I feel as though I understand something essential about Finland: people here are not impolite, they are lovely, they like to be left in peace, and they don’t need anything extravagant around them. (p.202)

Coup de Théâtre. In two occasions I was almost, literally, throwing away Tiranan Sydän. The first was when I red something like “Poverty is a state of mind.” (p.150) which regarded Tirana of 1991; and the second “The drunks are a spectacle to behold. [U]npleasant, disgusting, and unforgivable.” (p.197) which regarded the Finnish context. Yet, the intentional stimulation of this kind of reader’s reaction (the theatrical gesture of throwing a book away), through banalities, clichés, prejudice, – which to me reminded Thomas Bernhard – demonstrates always a merit of the writer revealing its capacity to manage the dispositif of narrative discourse.

Statovci’s intentional abundant use of banalities, clichés, prejudice throughout Crossing is demonstrated by their dispersive function towards the Coup de Théâtre at quasi the end of the novel, when the main character/narrator, because of an opportunity to reach fast success and fame through participation in a talent show aired on a national TV station, re-invents ethnographically, without hesitation, its identity by changing the origins from a person belonging to a sexual minority group born in Albania to a similar categorized person born in Turkey, which, as contexts, for the general opinion of a Western neoliberal post-industrial society can be considered, if not the same, interchangeable.

At this point the whole narration is revealed as a theater within theater with three characteristics which effect the (birth of the) reader.

The first one regards the structure of the novel: the text ends with a rapprochement (familial or domestic pacification?) between the son and the mother (the other) as well as the re-appearance in the final scene of an animal/horse (the otherness). This final solution debilitates the effect of the rapid mutation of the main character’s identity revealing a sarcastic theatricality of the writer playing with the reader.

The second characteristic is the almost monological narrative discourse as a tool of reality creation of contexts where the main character/narrator is involved. Through this discourse the narrator is transformed in the main character, which creates for the reader fictional and semiotized realities (in Tirana, Rome, New York, Germany, etc.), where several characters are directly engaged confirming and completing the truthfulness of the fictional realities created by the narrator/main character.

The last characteristic, to conclude with these texts regarding Pajtim Statovci’s Tiranan Sydän, is the psychic and sociological effect on the reader, which empathizes, throughout the reading, with the narrator, the other characters or, as in my case, with the cultural or mythological aspects of life ridiculed by the narrator. In each empathetic case at stake for the reader are 1) the honor of belonging to a social category, status, construct or 2) its contrary, feeling imprisoned within these lasts, as well as 3) the truthfulness of the fictional reality. Statovci’s main preoccupation are the readers which empathize with the honor of belonging to something and somewhere and readers which feel imprisoned in any prefixed category rather then the readers which care about the qualitative aspects of the narrative discourse.

Reading Pajtim Statovci’s Crossing/Tiranan Sydän … or The Unbearable Lightness of Being from Orient, Balkans, Communist Blok, Albania and a Coup de Théâtre. Part III. (Romeo Kodra)

Occorre fare inizialmente un tale inventario.
Quaderni del carcere, Antonio Gramsci.

Oriental-CommunistBlok-Balkan-Albanianism. After My Cat Yugoslavia, unsurprisingly Tirana of 1990-’91, after the collapse of the state socialism, in Statovci’s Crossing, is a completely invented context. Therefore, it is clear that the first person narrator’s voice surfs the hegemonic discursive waves of Orientalism as intended by Edward Said, and similarly one can add CommunistBlokism (see some terminological issues which came out by an exchange between me and Raino Isto link), Balkanism (see in Maria Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans, 1997), and Albanianism.

The concept of Orientalism in narrator’s hegemonic discourse, from an Albanian perspective, is historically as well as culturally even more stratified that the orientalism defined by Edward W. Said. This last has, in its East-West dichotomy, as a background the Arab world and Islam seen in British and French, and later US, colonial as well as post-colonial practices. Instead, the discourse of Orientalism in Crossing, among other strata lacks to fully evidence, as part of its background, the division of Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Churches and Roman Empire and, consequently, the idea of their re-unification and restoration (as it was before year 395) represented by the historical figure of Scanderbeg, which Statovci highlights generally through touristic location or gadgets such as Tirana’s Skanderbeg Square, Skanderbeg liquor (Crossing, p.15), etc. So the dichotomy “orient-occident” within Orientalist or Occidentalist discourses, intended in Said’s terms, is even deeper in an Albanian perspective and belongs not only to their relation with actual imperialist forces, but also to their relation with secular as well as religious imperial forces of the past, where the Albanians propose the own solution: Skanderbeg as a leading figure.

The concept of CommunistBlokism, one can be considered as part of the Western Euro-American Cold War propaganda. The Communist State or Blok do not exist in any official document in the history of the world, appearing only in propagandistic definitions related with the imperialistic, colonial and Euro-American-centric vision of the world. Thus, from an Albanian perspective, the discourse related with this concept presents among others, as a hidden and unarticulated strata of narrator’s hegemonic discourse of Crossing, the specific and distinct history of an independent State called Popular Socialist Republic of Albania, which defers a lot from the rest of the Communist Blok. For example, to understand and deal better with the deep complexity of the context one should know that Albania withdraw officially from the Warsaw Treaty in 1968 after the invasion of Prague by Soviet troupes; or another important fact such as the interruption of any relation with China in 1979 after the Chinese support to Pol Pot against Vietnam. So beyond the dogmatic definition Communist as well as Blok there is a whole history of the Albanians and Albania and their specific relation and solution given to the state socialism which is not evidenced or ignored in Crossing.

The concept of Balkanism, according Maria Todorova, is part of an European imperialist discourse (the discourse of the Great Powers) which starts developing mainly during the disintegration of Ottoman Empire and first decades of XX Century, and continues in the ’90 (disintegration of Yugoslavia), the period partially narrated in Crossing. Yet, what lacks in Crossing, from an Albanian perspective, is the essence of the “imperialist mission” of the Great Powers to “civilize the world” and the Balkans as well as Albania of the Nineties. Lacks for example that, in 1990-91 there were of course social conflicts and massive economic emigration (is famous the lapidary expression of the Prime Minister Ylli Bufi “We have bread only for six days!”), but not yet the plague of the female prostitution and trafficking (“And we were all complicit in their [disappeared girls] fate: I was guilty of it, Agim too, because we accepted the world around us as it was, unchanged, and we didn’t lift a finger to change it for the better.” p. 184). This came massively only after the 1997-’98, with the civil war exploded after the pyramidal or Ponzi scheme tricks came to an end after years and years of publicity on mass-media during which the Great Powers of the time (Monetary Fund, EU and US representatives) were sleeping. Moreover, in 1998, the constitution was changed and blessed by the above-mentioned Great Powers. So the Popular Socialist Republic proprieties were privatized by individuals (what was before propriety of the people, being apartments or factories, became propriety of the people living in those apartments of workers working in those factories), who, for ridiculous prices, sold everything to those who had cash in their hands (former hierarchs and Party’s leaders, newborn mafia and small oligarchs, foreigners, etc.). In this manner, the shock therapy opened the way of “imperialist mission” and “civilized world” with massive human, drug, weapon trafficking, which, altogether, in this case can be considered as the Albania’s own solution to capitalism and free market.

Even the concept of Albanianism, or Albanianhood, the quality of being Albanian, can be considered slightly different from other nationalisms. In Crossing this concept is treated as something aberrant and abhorrent (“I would not be an Albanian, not in any way, but someone else, anyone else.” p. 6). Yet, strangely and inexplicably attractive through the mythological stories of Bujar’s father, which, through their scarce elaboration throughout the novel, hide, in my opinion, the chauvinism that other nationalisms can barely equalize.

Eagle and eaglet. The scarce or superficial elaboration of the myth within the stories narrated throughout Crossing, opens, from one part, space to symbolic, anthropological and ethnological interpretations. Yet, from the other part, this superficiality, considering the absence of in-depth studies regarding this mythological and cultural aspect, becomes not an agency but a stimulus for a real chauvinism and speculative political interpretation which is deep-rooted in the last two centuries of the Albanian nationalism.

There is a specific story narrated in Crossing which can help understanding of this approach. The moment in which the narrator’s voice asks to his father “why the Albanian word for ‘Albania’ is shqipëtar [sic], the son of the eagle, and why the Albania is called Shqipëria, the land of the eagle, and why was a two-headed eagle on the Albanian flag”.
The story is about a little boy haunting in the mountains, which saves an eaglet “just before” the viper’s “fangs could sink into eaglet’s back”. The viper (killed with an arrow) was left in the nest by the eagle to feed her eaglet, thinking that the snake was already dead. Then, the boy takes the eaglet with him and when the eagle returns he doesn’t want to give her eaglet back. “Your child is my child now [because] I saved him from the snake, which you didn’t manage to kill, so I can take better care of him” says the boy. Then the eagle wants to make a deal. “Give back my child and you shall have everything I own, my ability to fly, and the power of my vision. You will become invincible, and from then on you shall bear my name.” The boy agreed and the eaglet “remained faithful[…], keeping an eye on him and watching his back”. So, the “boy grew into a man, and with his bow on one shoulder and the eagle on the other, he truly became invincible”.

The story can be interpreted from a cultural, anthropological and ethnographic point of view, meaning culture as cultivation of the nature/otherness, and eventually becoming other and otherness. But there is also a political interpretation, which is very vivid for an Albanian ear and rimes with the nationalistic rhetorical discourse of the Nineteenth century not coming out from the elliptic and suggestive approach of Crossing. More specifically this interpretation rimes with the discourse of the work of Vaso Pasha and especially his poem O moj Shqypni e mjera Shqypni/ Oh Albania, poor Albania, where Albania is a mother without children/men, which are too corrupted to save her, so there is anything left except for the women lament. It is a strange nationalism this one, for its times and compered to other countries, centering and promoting in its discourse “the Albanianhood” as the “religion of the Albanian” (Feja e shqyptarit asht shqyptaria). So, in the middle of the OrietalistOccidentalist as well as Islamic-Catholic-Orthodox conflictual discourses within the Ottoman sphere, the Albanianhood or Albanianism it is claimed with its own, unique, and unitary romantic and romanticized vision. The poem of Vaso Pasha in this manner also, and again, evokes, without mentioning it, the figure of Scanderbeg through the dead Albanians of the past. So, it demands to the living Albanians to re-unite, through the idea and imperialistic discourse, which foresees the necessary historical and mythological “rapacity” of the Albanian to guarantee unitary rule, order and security (Vaso Pasha was himself an Ottoman administrator). And the Albanians of the times, should be evidenced, had decisive the roles within the Ottoman empire, where famous political and military figures were time to time pro and against Ottoman Empire (Ali Pashë Tepelena, Omer Vrioni, Marko Boçari, Muhamed Aliu, etc). In this manner, it is clear that the symbolic political interpretation of the Albanian that becomes the son the eagle, because the eagle it is not able to take care of her eaglet, is, in this perspective, still a reactionary vision to guarantee imperialistic rule, order, and security.

To conclude, it is important to mention that Feja e shqyptarit asht shqyptaria (The religion of the Albanian is Albanianhood), which, per se, sounds like a verse that overcomes not only the imperialistic rhetoric but also the mere nationalism, is followed by an Albanian reterritorialization – from Bar to Preveza – and, after connecting historically with the ancestors or parents and family, it reconciles with religion/God.

Qysh prej Tivarit deri n’Prevezë,
Gjithkund lshon dielli vap’edhe rrezë,
Asht tok’ e jona, prind na e kanë lanë
Kush mos na e preki, se desim t’tanë
Të desim si burrat qe vdiqne motit
Edhe mos marrohna përpara zotit.

From the city of Bar down to Preveza
Everywhere spends its warmth and rays the sun,
This is our land, left us by our ancestors
Let no one touch her, for her we will all die
Let us all die as once our old men did
Upon itself before God none shame will bring
.

… continues with Part IV …

Reading Pajtim Statovci’s Crossing/Tiranan Sydän … or The Unbearable Lightness of Being from Orient, Balkans, Communist Blok, Albania and a Coup de Théâtre. Part II. (Romeo Kodra)

Occorre fare inizialmente un tale inventario.
Quaderni del carcere, Antonio Gramsci.

HOMOEROTICEXILE. My Cat Yugoslavia was characterized by the same simplicity in terms of writing, which reminded Hemingway for its descriptive immediacy, but overcharged academically, bringing in mind the creative writing courses/classes, where, for his misfortune, the American author is the real mainstream.

The architecture of the novel – to maintain the Hemingway’s terminology – was a spatial-temporal ping pong over the main story. This last was supported by a double first person narration, made of the voices of a homoeroticized son and the mother. The background story was narrated by the mother – starting in 1980, in Kosova and finishing in 2009, in present days’ Finland – woven with a compilation of costumes, legends and myth of the Albanian tradition (not very elaborated; just thrown there as baits). The present story was narrated by the son (2009, in Finland). The intersected first person narration voices produced a sort of final zoom out showing a big picture with a double focus: one on the lonely mother and her cat and the other on her son starting a new same sex relationship with Sami (the name brings in mind the indigenous people in Finland).

The book wasn’t more than a writing exercise of clichés, including the sexual minorities and feminist mainstream soundtrack made of names such as Tina Turner, Cher, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga. To make the book more tasty here and there words in Albanian popped up, for me like moldy mushrooms, but, I guess, as white truffle for the palate of literary tourists or institutionalized experts.

Cats and snakes with related illusive literary tropes, to me, more than Kafka, reminded Poe, for their suggestive but under-developed symbolic elaboration and quasi-hermeticism (but maybe I am influenced by reading the text in English and not in original). Referring at times to the lack of meaning or to obvious sexual symbols they are something in between Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey monolith and Kusturica’s Crna mačka, beli mačor cats.

Nationality and immigration were challenged with the same arrogant superficiality as in the first pages of Crossing, showing off a list of well-known nervous tics of Finnish and migrant characters caused by conflicting rituals, cultures as well as contexts. In addition, this superficiality contrasted with the quasi-total lack of historic research. For example, it was not highlighted the exile experience specificity of the main characters’ family: Albanians living in Kosova, under the Yugoslav Confederation, without having same rights, in terms of political representation, as Croats, Serbs, Slovenians, etc., which in everyday Yugoslavian life demonstrated better the colonial effects as well as aspects, such as prejudice and racism (i.e. Šiptar was a derogatory term which ridiculed the name Albanians called themselves Shqiptarë); and the connection of this background with the Finnish context.

Yet, in short, the book was well-packaged, matching all the different boxes of “fighting nationalism”, “promoting integration of migrants”, “enhancing gender equality”, “supporting sexual minority rights” and bla, bla, bla, for the taste of the literary status quo, which awarded and promoted the book nationally as well as throughout global mass media.

Considering the wide-spread neoliberal ideology in Finland, I imagined as if the book was written by a youngster, following the requirements of an open call, such as one I found last year at Migration Institute of Finland (link), which infantilized young refugees as if they did have problems of functional literacy:

We work with art therapists and visual artists to help young refugees create objects and images about relational wellbeing. We do this in three ways – first, by asking them to show us what relational wellbeing looks like in their day to day life with others in the present. Then we ask them to imagine how it might look in the future.
Finally, we ask them to remember it in their lives before they left their country of origin. Then we put their stories, images and objects together to see how relational wellbeing in the past, present and future is similar or different over time. The journey from volatility to vitality is often a long one for refugee youth. We hope to show pictures and stories of how life flows after the drama of asylum, in the quiet, unremarkable moments when they and others are drawn together and as they become part of a nation’s diversity and wealth over time (link).

It is the same procedure followed by Statovci in My Cat Yugoslavia. His quit, unremarkable moment, with the other is, as Il Venerdì della Repubblica defines it, on the cover of the Italian edition of the book, full of sensual realism, as if we were in front of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

But what is this sensual realism? Here it is, in a glimpse:

He wore a bespoke suit, a tie, and leather shoes, and I felt like asking him to stop so that I could look at him from head to toe and admire myself standing next to him in the mirror. I wanted to be envious of myself, of this moment. Of the fact that I had found a man like this, my very own bank manager with whom I could come to any agreement whatsoever.” (My Cat Yugoslavia, p.224).

In other words, according the narrator, this sensual realism consists in a superficial and immediate reproduction of self-image framed by a mirror, which incentivizes the ego masturbation to reach its maximal apotheosis, where love is a bank and beloved a bank manager. The perfect speculation! This last intended as an image as well as financial profit.

Before Crossing back. It isn’t strange, at all, that Pajtovci’s first work was awarded and appreciated for its homoerotic-immigrant-Finnish mythology, considering the neoliberal ideology of the country as well as the ideology of its art and culture, public and private, institutions. The book was all about ego-masturbation, veiled by a post/petty-bourgeois superficial self critique of the culture and societies of provenience as well as reception. Yet, with some differences: from the first were challenged, beyond the culture as a whole, the costumes, myth and legends, while from the second, there were no indications, as if the Finnish myth and legends did not exist, did not influence or not exploited for the generation of contemporary ones (Just to make an example: I live in Haukilahti, Espoo and the two nearest big shopping centers are Ainoa, recalling the traditional myth of Kalevala , and Iso Omena/Big Apple recalling the contemporary myth of the well-known global metropolis. Both of them are not only similar with each other, but do not have any difference with shopping centers in New York or Tirana).

This arrogance, refusal and prejudice towards ones’ own cultural, traditional, national, ethnic belonging accompanied with an unscrupulous and ostentatious positivity towards consumerism, brings in mind the problems of acculturation highlighted by Pasolini in Italy, during the industrial and economic booming, in an open letter addressed to the Executive Directors of the National TV RAI, published at Corriere della Sera on December 9th, 1973. In that letter were highlighted the processes of erasure – unimaginable even under fascism – and how the youth with a peasant, proletarian and sub-proletarian background started to refuse their roots for a petty bourgeois consumerist model promoted by mass-media and TV. But this time, through the first person narrator voices of My Cat Yugoslavia, we are in front of several overlapping acculturation problems. Here we are in front of the youth refusing not only the peasant, proletarian and sub-proletarian background but also the national, ethnic, familial as well as culture heritage, tradition, costumes, values; refusing one system (based on collectivism and interdependence such as in former-Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) for another (based more on individualism such as the contemporary Finnish bourgeois democracy). And all this not in a Fordist industrial but post-industrial booming context.

Furthermore, considering the prices, awards and appreciations collected of Statovci’s first work, the strange thing was noticing the lack of novelty and transgression, in terms of diversity. Of course, the voice of the author can be considered as different, intended as a Kosovar, positioned as belonging to sexual minorities, coming from a culture supposed patriarchal by the general Finnish institutionalized imaginary, but not diverse. Diversity is something else. It is etymologically di(s)+vèrtere, di(s)=da is a suffix which indicates leaving a place, distancing, and vèrtere means verge, overthrow, overturn, turning towards another way, and also another verse (poetically intended). So, from this point of view, there is nothing diverse in My Cat Yugoslavia. At least, there is not a single thing that the neoliberal ideology, through its public and private, artistic and cultural, as well as political institutions and mass-media, doesn’t already promote. And coming from Albania, it reminds me the good, old times of socialist realism in literature, in its particular Albanian style, which is something different from the one criticized by Roland Barthes in Le degré zéro de l’écriture.

Thus, before restart reading Crossing I thought about Mark Fisher’s questions, “how long can a culture persist without the new? What happens if the young are no longer capable of producing surprises?” (Capitalist Realism: Is there No Alternative? O Books, 2009, p. 3.). And, considering that I already knew the initial approach of Crossing, I expected the author, after contesting his traditional Kosovar costumes, culture, myth, legends, to continue provoking deeper, with the same superficiality, Kosova’s Albanian roots.

At this point, considering the lack of all these multidimensional problematic strata in Statovci’s work and its critical reception, I couldn’t help but think also about Jean-Léon Gérôme’s The Snake Charmer embellishing the cover of Edward W. Said’s book Orientalism; think about homoerotisation of immigrants and intentional confusing the concept of exile with the concept of nomadism as a good neoliberal strategy to fight the well-known neo-conservative image of immigrant serial-rapists of immaculate white, liberal, Euro-American pure women; as well as think about image of the Albanian as paradigmatic within the concept of “orientalism”, starting from numerous Arnaouts’ of Gérôme or Lord Byron’s Child Harold’s Pilgrimage.

… to be continued with the Third Part!