THE PART D) of the Survey regarded Covid19 pandemic. This was the shortest part, which denotes the importance given by the designer of the Survey. As in all open calls for proposals I have seen in art and culture during the last year and a half even in this Survey the approach was paternalistic, where the pious Christian Spirit that has impregnated the Western neoliberal institutions welcome in meditation the confession of the sufferance of the poor artists during the pandemic.
“Has the coronavirus pandemic changed the way in which you work or led to new ways of working (e.g. remote work)?” asked the pious spirit of the institution. “Yes” was my answer. “If yes, describe how in brief:” said the voice of the institution. Then, I described my tragedy “I was cleaning during the night the public transportation buses for 1600-1700 euro monthly. COVID19 helped me a lot, because, beyond the scarcity of protection dispositives which was ‘normal’ for the context (all migrants depending on the fixed-term contracts for the working permits of MIGRI) and not able to raise the voice for better conditions, the people traveled less and there were fewer vomits and garbage on buses to clean. So, COVID19 helped me a lot.” As if didn’t like the answer, the spirit of the institution asked something less pertinent “Have you experienced problems regarding social security, unemployment or pension security during the coronavirus pandemic?” I said, “No!” The spirit insisted with another not very pertinent question “Have you switched professions or considered leaving the arts sector due to the coronavirus pandemic?” to which I also insisted with my firm “No!” because I was not less professional artist during the night shift as a bus cleaner as well as I have never thought the art as a sector, a section or a vivisection from which one leaves or comes. Tired, the spirit of the institution asked “How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your outlook regarding your professional future as an artist?” to which I replied, as he already seemed to expect, “very positively”. Surrendered, the spirit of the institution left me a space for “comments and additional information” which, unfortunately, was, once more, limited.
Therefore, here is the right place to say something more articulated that can make sense not only as a comment regarding the last section regarding the pandemic but also regarding the whole Survey and the major problem of transparency of the public institutions such as TAIKE and conclude this series of writing on the same argument.
To me sounds offensive even to ask artists how the pandemic changed their work (e.g. remote work)? What the fuck does this mean? Is this the “change”? The “remote work”? Is this the problem of the pandemic? I am sure that who designed the Survey knows very well that this is not the real question as everyone in the world knows and has the honesty to confess it. The problem of the pandemic is the space, its exploitation, and exploitation as such, the pressure on billions of underrepresented working slaves around the world, as well as the pressure on the animal life (the famous bats from Wuhan from which happened the spillover). As I see it, the real question even in Finland should be posted on these terms, in terms of space. But it is difficult to make it openly, in a transparent manner, because there are certain interests in investing in the space through the densification of concrete and asphalt in Finland such as in the case of Boulevardisation of Helsinki. And if the question is posted in this terms, openly and in a transparent manner, then the corporate groups that are making money with the Boulevardisation, the state that these groups hold hostage through political parties financed by them, will not have instruments to alienate the people thinking about the real solution – STOP INVESTING IN CONCRETE AND ASPHALT FOR PROFITS – , will not have even the instruments to predicate DEMOCRACY to China, to Russia or any other AUTOCRACY or OLIGARCHY around the world but concentrate on the Finnish ones.
It is a long run this writing, at times it may seem pretentious, started from the request to have transparent feedback from TAIKE regarding my application for an artistic and cultural project and concluded with a part of a Survey of CUPORE making questions regarding the global pandemic and my actual project on Boulevardisation. Yet, if someone reads it without the alibis we prepare for ourselves and our daily compromises I am sure it can make more sense and can clarify the context we live in, Finland in this case.
P.S. The Survey had a last PART E) regarding “Background Information” of the participant which is interesting only for the poor vivisectionists of CUPORE and TAIKE and not for the reader of this blog.
THE PARTB) of the Survey regarded the “Changing nature of being an artists”, which, as expected, did not specify the view on the topic of the institutionalized researchers of the institutions TAIKE/CUPORE that designed the Survey. So, the sub-questions under this topic, to which one could express its opinion from 1 likely/desirability to 5 unlikely/undesirability, regarded exiting themes such as “networking of the artists”, “employment/entrepreneurship”, “finances”, “utilization outside the field of art”, “blurring boundaries between art and other fields”, “multidisciplinarity”, “continuous readiness for change”, “broader expertise (e.g. marketing)”, “technology”, “digitization”, “social media”, “entertainment”, “impact on well-being and vitality”. The only questions I had in my mind during all the reading of this part of the Survey was “Where the fuck the researcher/s that designed this Survey think/s is living?”. The amazement to see how these people write cliches, characteristic obviousness that one can find in every banal discussion on social media among Sunday morning art amateurs, is depressing, especially considering that he/she/they is/are payed handsomely with public money. In my opinion, the people that designed the Survey do not understand at all and do not problematize the position from which are delivering the questions. In other words, beyond their paternalistic, psychoanalytical, and behaviorist approach that characterizes the contemporary cognitive capitalism, the person/s who designed the Survey do/es not question its/their position, its/their being within an institution and its/their being institutionalized. Luckily, there was a box where one could say something else, beyond the stupid asked sub-questions, where I wrote:
“Society is becoming more and more a society of the spectacle, where the policies are driven by the private interests of big corporate groups. These last control, through financing election campaigns, the political parties, and, consequently the public art and culture institutions as well as private art and culture institutions thanks to the philanthropic facade. The economic development will be controlled even more. Therefore, even the changes in working life and political power structures will pressure the artistic freedom to privilege the artists’ servility and the art-washing practices. The art and culture institutions thanks to, even”
but unfortunately the space to conclude a minimally articulated thought finished because of the limited characters.
THE PART C) of the Survey regarded the “Status of the artist in society” and was very interesting for its design. In my opinion, the researcher/s strategy and through them the institutions they are part of as well as the politicians/political parties which govern through these institutions, is to safely justify and save its/their ass/es from not giving appropriate feedback for the evaluation as well as take responsibilities for their decision-making. This strategy consists in asking immediately in the first sub-question “How important do you consider the following criteria in making funding decisions for the arts?”, which has 15 statements where one can evaluate from “1/very important” to “5/not at all important” or “cannot say”. Someone that does not know very well the logic of the neoliberal governmentality and how is delivered through the institutional discourses cannot understand the relation between the “status of the artist in society” and “criteria in making funding decisions for the arts”. So, why is our imaginary researcher that designed the Survey making this connection? It is simply to channel the attention of the people participating in this Survey to a supposed common understanding that the “status of the artist in society” is something that interest the artists themselves as well as the public, the taxpayers. After doing so, in the 15 listed statements we have all, again, supposed common understanding of the “quality and standards of the art”, “access and accessibility”, “intrinsic value”, “commercial/potential market”, “the role of art in promoting cultural dialogue”, “in promoting health and well-being”, “in promoting creative economy”, “the role of art in offering new perspectives”, “the role of the art in taking a stand”, “the entertainment value of the art”, “the importance of grants and subsidies as recognition and an incentive”, “the social impact of the art”, “regional equality”, “equality between different fields of the arts”, “the fair and equal treatment of applicants”. One could ask, why should I, as artist, need a status? For example I wrote: “The ‘status’ and ‘artist’ is a syntagmatic contradiction in terms”. Does it make any sense to our imaginary institutionalized researcher of TAIKE/CUPORE? Or why should I, as taxpayer, pay for art based on those 15 statements? Cannot be 16 or 1016 other meaningful statements? Or cannot change from time to time and periodically according to the spatial-temporal situation of the contexts (locally and globally)?
Then there were some claims that one could evaluate, not less stupid than the previous sub-questions. For example, “there is a desire in society to improve the status of artists” and things like that. One could ask, why is this statement after taking for granted in the previous section the “status of the artist in society” and the consequent 15 statements? The only thing with a minimal sense was regarding the universal basic income which do not make a distinction of status because it is universal. So, not about artists or any supposed elite … not about any division.
Yet, another example that underlined the perfidious strategy of the Survey was something articulated like “decision-makers have sufficient skills to respond to the needs of artists”. One could ask, if TAIKE/CUPORE do not give feedback on the evaluations and the rationale of the decision-makers that justify their decision, how can one evaluate weather those decision-makers have or not have sufficient skills to evaluate and take decisions? Isn’t it a way of the institution and neoliberal governmentality to abstract itself, to make a clear division from the people that work for the institution, the poor hard-working-industrious evaluators of TAIKE/CUPORE, and make pressure on them and their qualities thanks to the expected negative feedback of the participants of the Survey? Isn’t this a manner for the institutions TAIKE/CUPORE to detach itself from the people that work for TAIKE/CUPORE leaving them in front of the negative feedback. As I see it, the hidden strategic intention of our imaginary researcher that designed the Survey is that it is not the fault of the institutions and neoliberal governmentality which should survive intact (LONG LIVE THE NEOLIBERISM AND THE CAPITAL!!!), but of the evaluators and decision-makers that do not have sufficient skills.
However, I do not want neither to justify any person within these institutions, because I think that the evaluators that do not take position and accept to evaluate proposals without giving feedback are accomplices of the neoliberal institutions and governmentality.
Yet, at the end of the section, fortunately, there was another box where Survey’s depressed participants like me could add “comments and additional information”, and release their valve of depression as well as have their dose of illusion and feel better for at least 2 minutes:
“Every predefined “role” is a deadly coffin for every art and artist. The contemporary institutionalized ignorance seems does not recognize anymore the origins of the relations between art and institutions. In ancient Athens, the first institutionalized art form, the theater, was born as an acceptance of the total alterity/otherness, the animal reign of Dyonises, by the ‘demos’/society/people of Athens, and, by the way, the first awarded theater piece was Aeschyles’ “Persians” … so by the public was accepted not only a piece on the ‘others’ but also a theater piece on the enemies, the tragic fate of whose, after the defeat against the Athens, was able to move the spirit of the Athenian society. This is easy to understand. But, I do not have any illusion in this regard, because the idiocy of a defined “role of the artists” as well as “status of the artist”, which by definition should resist any role and status, will appear in other calls for proposals, research papers, policies, etc.”
THE SURVEY. On 8th of September, I received an email from TAIKE and the Center for Cultural Policy Research CUPORE. Basically it regarded the request to participate by compiling a questionnaire about:
“the views of artists working in different fields of the arts regarding the future. The questionnaire asks about new/changing forms of being an artist, trends that are affecting the work of the artist, the future prospects for artists and issues related to the diversity of artistic work. The questionnaire for artists has been sent to one in three artists who applied for a grant from Taike in 2020. The link to the questionnaire is open and can be shared. The link can also be found on the Taike and Cupore websites, as well as on the communication channels of various arts organisations (artist associations, foundations and arts information centres, for example). We ask that you respond to the questionnaire by clicking on the link below by 30 September 2021. We hope that you will respond to all the questions and express your own views freely. The views of individual artists are very valuable for the results of the barometer. Everyone who responds and provides their contact information will be entered into a prize drawing for the chance to win one of 20 Museum Cards.”
Fortunately, I was one in three lucky artists to receive the email and link directly.
The first part A) of the questionnaire was “Living and working as an artist”, a clear reference to the specific, well-defined and alienating capitalist category of the “ARTIST”, where it was required to tick the boxes of the “field” (architecture, visual arts, cinema, etc.). Within the same session was a specific question, “What is your profession as an artist”, to which I replied “visual art and cultural researcher” just to confuse the ideas of the “researcher” handling the questionnaires, for whom the life would have been much easier to see as a reply “painter”, “architect” or any other XIXth Century definition. There were also some claims:
“An artist is any person who defines them (I think it is a wrong translation because in Finnish is itsensä/itself) as an artist An artist is a person who earns their main livelihood by doing artistic work. An artist is a person who has received an art education. An artist is a person who meets the criteria defined by an artists’ association in their field of art. An artist is a person who receives artist grants based on peer reviews. An artist is a person who receives copyright income. An artist is a person who is recognised as an artist by the artist community. An artist is a person defined as such by the audience. A person is born an artist. The profession of an artist is a vocation. The profession of an artist is a profession among others. Creating art is a livelihood among other livelihoods.”
to which one could tick the boxes “strongly agree”, “partially agree”, “neither agree nor disagree”, “partially disagree”, “strongly disagree”, “cannot say”. Accept the first claim with which I strongly agree, the large part of the other claims are still orbiting around the institutional logic of categorization of the ARTIST, or, as the last four, pure abstract definitions the use of which by professional researchers I cannot imagine. In addition, there was another question, “Have you worked as an artist outside the field of the arts (e.g. education, social and health services, construction)?” and request for more specifications such as “financial reasons’, “personal interest”, “other reasons”. Moreover, there was the question “In addition to your work as an artist, have you performed other work that is unrelated to your professional skills as an artist?” and same specifications. Regarding both these questions I see some problems. Firstly, because although as any other I think that there were relations between my artistic practice and the position of cultural manager or university art lecturer, I did not think I was “outside” the field of the arts”. I also think that there were more relations between my artistic practice and the supposed unrelated work of loading and unloading trucks and cargo, cleaning public transportation buses of Espoo, testing colors in a textile dyeing plant laboratory, etc., rather than between my artistic practice and the practice as cultural manager or art educator. At least, if I have to chose to which category “I belong” (and, by the way, I would never chose to belong to any category!!!), I would say I related more to the category of migrant sub-proletarian worker rather than to the category of working artist or cultural operator supported by TAIKE’s grants. Moreover, I do not think am the only one of those supported by TAIKE to think the same way regarding their “performed other work that is unrelated to [their] professional skills”. (…continues)
THE FEEDBACK. I decided a month ago to write to the Arts Promotion Center of Finland (TAIKE) asking for feedback concerning the evaluation criteria of an application for which I did not receive support. The first reply was that “Taike doesn’t give feedback on individual project proposals/applications. When applying a grant, please familiarize yourself with the call for applications on that specific grant”, which to me sounded like an answer with the intention to check my capacity of reading and understanding a text/the open call. So, I insisted. Then, I received another, more articulated, reply:
“Our criteria of evaluation vary according to grant. Here are some that apply to all: You must be professional in the field, have artistic training from art schools or have good working experience. Actively working on the field. Interesting project plan. Realistic budget. For example, I work with Uusimaa region grants. There less than 10 % of applications receive a grant. According to my unofficial statistic 80 % would qualify for grant, they meet all the criteria mentioned above. There is no ‘if you tick these boxes you will get the grant’. The peer evaluators (= selected artists) do a painful task of trying to sort out from the 80 % which 10 % get the grant. In the beginning of the process we do all discuss together what the process looks like: how many from which fields of art, young/old, region, which sections (composer, singer… painter, ceramic artist) etc. A very complex puzzle. For 2021: 837 people applied for Uusimaa working grant, 41 got the grant. I do not know if this helps you at all.”
The first part of the email, regarding the “criteria that apply to all”, confirmed the priority given to the institutional+ized artists: “professional in the field”, “artistic training from art school”, “working experience”, “actively working on the field”. All concerning “profession”, in other words artists that profess and confess themselves as belonging or related to something (institutions, ideals) or someone (as disciples); “field”, as if the art was not an expensive “field” and for this reason impossible to define, confine and limit; and “working”, as if it was a clear criterion and not a process of becoming (for more information see the concept of inoperosity in Giorgio Agamben and its relation with genealogy of power and biopolitics in the Western civilization or better the living labor in Marx). Regarding “interesting plan” I do not want to say anything because is self-evident as totally arbitrary criterion, and the “realistic budget” is not something that should represent any difficulty in giving feedback, as far as anyone understands that the numbers are numbers and not opinions.
The second part regarded the difficulties of the selection process, evidencing firstly the hard work of the evaluators. I am very interested in the archetype of the industrious/Ilmarinen in the Finnish mythology and consequently culture. I do not know why but this tendency of “trumpeting” its own work, paid with public taxes by the way, reminded me another occasion where I noticed a same tendency, the presentation of Municipality’s “Helsinki Art and Culture Vision 2030” (min. 18.44, accessed on 9.9.2021).
Secondly, the email, beyond the “painful task” and “complex puzzle” (which I sincerely believe), highlighted the fact that the “peer evaluators” were “selected artists” (of course by the institution TAIKE), as if the TAIKE’s “selected artists”, supposed belonging to the category of the ARTIST, automatically could guarantee the correctness and quality of the evaluation. Even this second part is very interesting for me, always related with the Finnish mythology (the mythologem of separation/conjunction) and consequently culture, especially for its illuminating construction of discourse, intended literally and linguistically, through which the political power, supported by the capital (private corporate groups), infiltrates the arts and culture, their academic institutions as well as artistic creativity and freedom in general. This kind of construction is a classical persuasive model of discourse through which the neoliberal governmentality and the Capital attract artists thanks to their non-elaborated egoistic and elitist character’s traits as can be noticed by the definition of “selected” and “artists”. Isn’t clear for everyone that my being artist does not guarantee neither my understanding nor my empathy or sympathy of other artists? Moreover, I may be prostituting art for the representational aspects of the art, for the facade of art. I may be deliberately selling myself for money by permitting to the political power the use of my image, status, authority for clear aestheticization of policies and consequently anesthetization of the masses. Do I guarantee the correct evaluation of other artists’ applications without a transparent justification/rationale?
In any case considering that I did not receive pertinent answers I asked again specifying that it was not my primary interest to question the result of the evaluation of my application, but to understand and make a better application the next time. In addition, I specified that I have some theoretical and practical knowledge on the processes of evaluation – making the examples of Creative Europe and Horizon Europe programmes of European Commission where the applicants receive feedback with the points for each criteria as well as its justification/rationale – but did not know if the same process is applied within TAIKE. Moreover I asked whether I was the first person to ask these question.
From 16th of August I did not receive any further information.
THE SURVEY. Yesterday, I received an email from TAIKE and the Center for Cultural Policy Research CUPORE. (… continues).
THE IDEA: The performance, realized thanks to the support of ESPOO CITY and its CULTURE UNIT, is held in the framework of an ongoing artistic research project “Iconology and Iconographies of Boulevard: from Boulevard to Boulevardization and BoulevARTization”.
THE METHODOLOGY: Mainly, the topic imposes iconography as a method of the research, but also iconology, which will consist in collecting, classifying images (‘image’ intended as ‘bild’: see in Hans Belting) and discourses of boulevardisation through their cultural analysis. Altogether, this methodological approach serves to define the mythological archetypes (Carl Jung) inscribed within wider contemporary urban and cultural iconography, starting from the mythologem (Károly Kerény) of “opposites’ separation/conjunction” (the boulevardisation as a key passage from industrial to post-industrial paradigm) as well as the archetypal image of “the industrious”.
THE CONTEXT: Helsinki’s and Uusimaa’s last urban plan provides more densification, thanks to the concept of boulevardisation (transformation of highways in boulevards), seen not only as a solution for the challenge of a greener city but also as the solution of demographic changes (namely, the arrival of migrants). Yet, the plan lack to prioritize its challenges: by making more space for the green (densification of asphalt and cement is a contradiction in terms with a greener city); and assure the participation of migrants (none has asked the migrants if they would prefer a more dense Helsinki). Yet, assured, through urban densification, are the consequent profits for few corporate groups that will build the new boulevards. Therefore, future conflicts are easy to predict between migrants and Finns, passive spectators of the boulevardisation as well as environmental and cultural upheavals. For the performance, the chosen context is the iconic middle of Engel‘s North and South Esplanadi , the monumental Runeberg‘s and Suomi-neito‘s complex in Helsinki’s Boulevardi.
THE SYSTEMIC MACHINE: In underdeveloped transitional societies (HEAVEN FORBID!!! NOT IN FINLAND!!!) the systemic machine for corporate profits works thanks to the involvement of several “play-role-actors”: STEP 1 – private companies with interests in densification/boulevardisation support politicians and political parties. STEP 2 – the politicians/political parties propose the plan in the public institution/municipality/region. STEP 3 – the public institution asks for advice from independent academics/experts. STEP 4 – the independent academics/experts are supported with grants for their personal projects by private foundations owned by the above-mentioned private companies with interests in densification/boulevardisation.
THE “ROLE OF THE ARTIST”: The inspiration, or better to say the first modulation of the performance builds on Aki Kaurismäki’s “Boheemielämää” and his main character, the Albanian artist and illegal migrant Rodolfo, which in this case is re-conceptualized as a carnival perversion in a new postindustrial-bohemian-migrant-artist with no principles, convictions, or scruples (CAUTION: The performer was born in Albania, but any reference to the Albanian Artist Prime Minister – actually in his third mandate -, who, in 1992, the year of Kaurismäki’s film, was himself a “bohémien” migrant artist living in Paris, and especially any reference to his green-washing and art-washing urban development policies, are purely coincidental!!!). The performance is also a modulation of Carmelo Bene’s “Pinocchio”, a piece of wood/nature/otherness (evoking the “greener” approach of the boulevardisation), which from a migrant/other becomes, as Bene’s Pinocchio, a right-minded man and good member/artist of a boulevardized society. Lastly, the performance is a further modulation on Paul Klee’s works, but here the polyphony is based not on combining, stratifying, approaching the colors towards each other but erasing them and highlighting the line. For this, the starting point is the paradoxical polyphonic painting of Paul Klee “Ventriloquist and Crier in the Moor” as well as Klee’s belief that “A line is a dot that went for a walk”.
La prostituée du boulevard de Clichy et l’inspecteur qui la surveilleont tous les deux de mauvais souliers et tous les deux ont mal aux piedsd’avoir arpenté des kilomètres de bitume.Georges Simenon
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.
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.
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 …!
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 …”.
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.
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.