From: Tirana Art Lab – Adela Demetja (Curator), Romeo Kodra (Curator)
For: Albanie France Art Contemporain
Cc: French Ambassador in Tirana Mr. Bernard Fitoussi; Albanian Minister of Culture Mrs. Mirela Kumbaro; French Minister of Culture and Communication Mrs. Fleur Pellerin; Director of Albanian Historical Museum Mr. Melsi Labi; Director of Albanian National Gallery Mr. Artan Shabani; Director of Centre Pompidou Mr. Bernard Blistène.
Tirana 14. July 2015
We, Adela Demetja and Romeo Kodra, curators of Tirana Art Lab, participants in the call for curators for the project “Albanie France Art Contemporain” supported and organized by The French Embassy in Tirana, the Albanian Ministry of Culture, the French Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Albanian Historical Museum, Albanian National Gallery and Centre Pompidou in Paris, would like to express our indignation and revolt for how the jury dealt with the competition and the decision regarding the curator of this project. Our application and interest was treated in an offensive, arrogant and unprofessional manner from the international jury consisting of Mrs. Christine Macel, Mrs.Alicia Knock and Mrs. Saâdane Afif.
We do not understand the reasoning behind the jury’s decision in not selecting an Albanian curator, a decision which was justified by the superficial statement: «The jury has only received two applications in the category “curator” which has not allowed them jury’s members to make a legitimate choice, due to the very low number of applications». We deserve and have the right to be informed about the criteria and the motivation that brought the jury to the decision that the small number of applicants (two) automatically invalidates both applications, despite the time and intellectual energy spent in delivering the proposed application. Isn’t our time and effort worth some consideration? Are they less valuable than the time and effort of the jury? Wasn’t our application qualitative?
Especially on this latter issue we would like the jury to share their opinion and their expertise with us. It would help our further development if we could compare our curatorial statement with the competent assessment of the jury on contemporary art in Albania and further. Why was this opportunity not given to us?
Well, we deserve and have the right to get informed about the reasons that lay behind jury’s decision to annihilate all the applicants because they make up a minority. The small number of Albanian curators cannot be the reason for the total annihilation of this community and the elimination of one of the few left fields that Albanian politics has not yet taken over.
We have our ideas regarding the pressure of political power and how it influences our daily intellectual, artistic and cultural activities; additionally, it is clear to us how this political power operates, becoming every day less tolerant towards non-integration, disagreement, the resistance against homologation and homogenization; but we do not understand the dynamics enabling this honorable jury to align with this kind of political power.
We do not understand how this jury responsible for the selection of Albanian artists which justifies their choice with the statement «This selection reflects the liveliness and diversity of the Albanian artistic scene» can at the same time be capable of the annihilation of “the diversity” of curatorial interpretation.
We, our curricula, our studies, our working experience, the time and effort we put in our work demonstrate that we deserve to and have the right to get the above-mentioned missing answers.
Awaiting your response with kind regards
Adela Demetja & Romeo Kodra
Curatorial approach delivered for the competition
Curatorial Approach for ACAS
Tirana Art Lab
Adela Demetja / Romeo Kodra
We Adela Demetja and Romeo Kodra have been working as a curatorial team in programming Tirana Art Lab, a non-profit centre for contemporary art, cultivating – in the Albanian territory and beyond – exclusive acts of creative resistance in opposition to the neoliberal capitalism streams. Through this distinction we try to challenge or prevent first of all, any kind of top-down conducted influences: where usually the local institutional power structures are located, characterized – historically and in recent times – by the obsessed authoritarian absorption of all kind of artistic phenomena in order to reduce them to nothing more than propulsor of charismatic image of its political leaders. Secondly, any kind of influence from outside: where an artistic consumerist (star)system is located, making it harder everyday to question its authoritarian and self-referential status.
Tirana Art Lab is located in a “commune” neighborhood of Tirana, entirely betonies as a result of the degenerative bulimia of a consumerist power system. The location where we operate from can be seen as the first symptomatic evidence for our act of resistance, in the face of everyday “normality”, where art from “above and outside” is manifested in the alienation of the multicolored facades. The dynamic of our axiomatic resistance is in this sense clear: bottom-up and from inside.
Based on this axiom Tirana Art Lab and we curators Adela Demetja and Romeo Kodra, for the event of ACAS, would like to push further our practice, by focusing our curatorial approach on those art works of Albanian artists that embody elements and concepts, cultivating the notion of “transition”.
We would like to focus on the notion of “transition”, since it is a concept entirely unproductive for the political power and the consumerist (star)system; it is unproductive for the realization of any static, hierarchic, vertical status. Furthermore though our research and study on our “transitional” society, we have noticed that, it seems as if the artists of the “transition” had – in contrast with the political rhetoric and media opinion in Albania – understood a historical lesson of the daily sacrifice for a better world. They face the “transition”, or the “periodic crises” as it is known in Western societies. They, the artists – paradoxically – do not transit on them.
In fact, to the Albanian artists, it is clear that, to these 25 years of “transition” towards “democracy” and “capitalism”, it is necessary to add more than a half-century of sacrifices in the name of building the communist “New World”. Regarding these sacrificial and sacral decades of social hope and expectations, we will find the same common nominative: once more, transition.
At this point questions arise: what if the cultivation of the former Eastern Countries nightmare, the cultivation of “transition”, the cultivation of this heterotopic void of yesterday, today and, most likely, tomorrow turns in an axiom for the future interpretations of the reality? What if, these artists had discovered an axiom for the global heterotopy of the end of ideologies? What if, conscious and enriched by that historical lesson on that strictly totalitarian (not only) economic planning, which was socialist realism, these artists gave a figure on the (not only) economic planning of our days?
What if – with this axiom – we could decipher the formula of the erotisation of the “political and artistic heroes” with whom “we” will fall in “love”, again and again, repeating the vicious circle of the sacral sacrifice dedicated to the future in spite of the present?
Adela Demetja and Romeo Kodra, June 2015