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:

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 (, 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

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.

Vision for Art and Culture in Helsinki 2030 and a needed syllabarium. (Romeo Kodra)

The idea of Jörn Donner. On September 16th, 2020 Globe Art Point organized a Morning Coffee (meeting) where Helsinki’s Municipality new Director of Culture, Mari Männistö, presented the Vision for Art and Culture in Helsinki 2030 (pdf). This last was proposed on August 18th (video), by an independent committee. The initiative to leave the Vision in the hands of an independent committee, according to Mari, was proposed by the former Municipality’s Council Member Jörn Donner. The Donner’s proposal represents a clear tendency of Helsinki’s Municipality to involve the community on the decision making process, starting from the Vision, or, in other words, from its basic conceptual and methodological framework.

Involving community and artists in power. In this blog is documented (in Albanian) the same tendency to open the decision making process and involve the community several times, for several years, but especially in 2016, where the Municipality of Tirana invited the starchitect and green-washing master Stefano Boeri (actually, according Boeri, was the Albanian Artist Prime Minister to invite him) to work on city’s Masterplan (no competition needed in Albania as one can imagine, because the global political leaders of the village know everything!). As a façade, covering the lack of transparency, covering the corruption as well as money laundering, the Municipality organized an open public event, but the “openness” consisted in inviting only Municipality’s departmental directors and employees and one independent representative of cultural scene personally related with the Mayor and his entourage. Of course, through all this long introduction, the intention is not to compare Helsinki with Tirana, because first of all the writer of these lines lives in Finland from 2019 and has not sufficient knowledge regarding the context and, secondly, it is hard to imagine that in Finland, not only for the art and culture vision 2030 where the amount of money on the plate reduces the conflict, but also for Helsinki’s Urban Plan for example where the amount of money it is tempting to speculators, people will be treated like in Albania: thrown out of their houses in the middle of the night, handcuffed and imprisoned, their houses bulldozed by Municipality and Police, all these in front of children eyes (link). So, this is only a warning: these things can happen, not only when the artists’ community is involved in decision making, but also when artists are the decision makers such as in the case of Albania and its artist Prime Minister. Thus, it is important to prevent that arts, culture as well as artists and cultural operators serve intentionally or unintentionally the mob, oligarchs, or particular group of interests or even the established political and financial powers. Therefore, this text, following the natural essence of art, as resistance, and culture, as cultivation of arts, intends to highlight the necessity of maintaining a sort of distance from certain illusions, such as the involvement of community or leaving in hands on artists and cultural operators the decision making process.

De-institutionalizing and overcoming political representivity. Thus, with in mind the necessary doze of disillusion, the first thing that can be evidenced regarding the Donner’s idea is the way in which this very good tendency to involve the community, starting from the Vision, initiated by the Municipality of Helsinki, is somewhat blocked at a level of institutional representation, considering the participants of the independent committee, all coming from established institutions:
chairman Aleksi Malmberg (General Manager of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra) and the members Leif Jakobsson (Emeritus Director of the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland), Gita Kadambi (General Director of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet), Elina Knihtilä (Professor at the University of the Arts Helsinki), Emmi Komlosi (Planner-teacher at the Helsinki Adult Education Centre), Sonya Lindfors (Choreographer and Artistic Director at UrbanApa), Teemu Mäki (Artist, Doctor of Fine Arts and Chair of The Artists’ Association of Finland), Eeka Mäkynen (Managing Director of Finnish Metal Events Oy), Sara Norberg (Managing Director of Cinematic), Veli-Markus Tapio (Senior Advisor at the Finnish Cultural Foundation).
The independent committee, considering the provenience of the members and the lack of questioning of their status, starting from the Vision, shows two faces of a same problem: institutional and representational (political as well as artistic and cultural), which contradict the tendency of Donner’s proposal and Municipality’s initiative.
Firstly, the Donner’s idea regards de-institutionalization, from the institution of Municipality Council to a non institutional independent committee. How does the independent committee build on this aspect of Donner’s idea and pushes further de-institutionalization in the Vision remains unknown.
Secondly, the Municipality’s initiative is a clear tendency to overcome the problem of political representation of majority of parties (which are represented by the members of the Municipality Council) by involving a wider community, represented by the independent committee and, through them, involving the public, the electorate, part of which are also the minorities not represented in the Municipality Council. How does the independent committee build on this tendency of overcoming the representivity and how each member problematizes and pushes further this aspects remain also unknown.
It is exactly this tendency to de-institutionalize and overcome the political and consequently artistic and cultural representative and representational problem, which must be fundamental or the basis on which the independent committee should build and push further the Vision for Arts and Culture of Helsinki 2030. Without pushing further this tendency, the Vision will confirm the status quo, which no artist or cultural operator can represent better than a career politician or a Municipality Council. Consequently, this exceptional occasion where an independent committee designs the Vision will be a lost occasion like tens, hundreds or thousands others happened not only in Helsinki, but also in Finland and other parts of the world.
Yet, let see now how the Vision is further articulated (the reference is English version).

Vision with metaphors from industrial and anthropocentric thesaurus.

The first chapter and sentence of the Vision is a proclamation: “Helsinki holds art and culture at the hart of good living and city development”. The “good living”, although not very clear (do Helsinki’s citizens share a common understanding on “good living”? any reference?), seems a metaphor regarding the psycho-physical conditions of Helsinki’s citizens. The meaning of “city development” is clearer. It regards urban development. Development as a concept belongs to the logic of industrial development, being this last clearly related with the bourgeois industrial capitalism (and infinite consumption of superfluous goods would have said Pier Paolo Pasolini, to whom I refer regarding “development”‘s genesis: “Uno ‘sviluppo’, però, la cui figura si è ormai formata e fissata nel contesto dell’industrializzazione borghese.” Scritti corsari). Therefore, “city development” regards the urban densification and its built space enlargement.
At this point, if the reader follows the Vision‘s metaphor, art and culture at the hart of the citizen and industrial urban development, it is clear that art and culture function as pacemakers. Art and culture seem perfect technologically reproducible mechanisms (Walter Benjamin echoes!) supporting the rhythm or regulating the heart beating of the citizen and the way city is developing and will develop in 2030. Considering this ambitious approach, it is interesting to see how art and culture will regulate the rhythm of industrial circulation and consumption of goods as well as how, through consumption of goods, achieve the “good living”, which is basically the fundamental idea of industrial capitalism.
The first paragraph of Vision‘s first chapter, presents the challenges: “the environmental crisis, demographic changes and technology“. These are finely seen as “customary mindsets and practices“, through which the specialists of pacemakers – artists and cultural operators – are supposed to face 2030.
The other paragraph, presents one of these pacemakers, the art, as instrument of knowledge and imagination for “alternative worlds and build paths to the future”.
The next one, defines “the hart of Helsinki”, made by “[t]he people […] and their diversifying (sic!) cultures”, which “is important engage in a dialogue” with each other and create the “common spirit of Helsinki”. In other words, the cultures – as pacemakers or industrial mechanisms – jump from physical to metaphysical sphere. Yet, a question rises: despite the fact that there are pure and impure spirits, wasn’t better instead of unifying, concentrating or homologating all citizens under one spirit to use spirituality, which seems a wider and not fully defined term?
Proceeding further, Helsinki 2030, apart from heart and spirit, demonstrates also to have consciousness:

Helsinki knows how to use the skills and thinking of artists to help in building a good city: in enhancing the well-being and health of the people of Helsinki, in ecological reconstruction and in recognising new opportunities.

It is interesting to know from the independent committee how Helsinki can “use the skills and thinking” of artists to enhance “the well-being and health of the people”, where the art can be beyond good and evil (Nietzsche), or beyond the pleasure principle (Freud). Therefore, the concept of well-being, like the one of good-living, is not clear or at least is limitative, especially when considered at an artistic level. To make an example: is it too harsh to affirm that the last thing which comes in mind to someone in front of Picasso’s Guernica, hearing Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, reading Franz Kafka or Virginia Wolf, seeing one of Kaurismäki’s film, or experiencing Aalto’s Finlandia Talo (beyond the architect’s intention), is well-being or good-living?
“[T]he ecological reconstruction” seems a confirmation of the above-mentioned idea of “city development” and sounds like referring to the last urban plan and more precisely to “Boulevardisation of Helsinki”, which, consisting in transformation of “motorway-like routes in boulevards”, are more or less human-centric, but are still to be proved as ecological (there is no published comparative study which supports the idea of transforming motorway-like routes in boulevards with more buildings as ecological). So, it can be said that “the skills and thinking of artists” will be “used” to change from an industrial-Fordist city (motorway-like routes are its classical distinctive features) to a post-industrial(?) city, where the “recognized new opportunities” consist in industrialization of artists creativity.
Finally, the chapter closes with “[a]rt and culture open[ing] the way to a creative [industry? industrial?] Helsinki, where all can experience joy and hope in their lives”.

Blurring Vision. Taking in consideration the Vision from a managerial point of view, beyond the metaphors – which would be nice if the independent committee clarifies in their concrete meaning offering a minimal syllabarium to understand it better -, after the highlighted challenges such as “environmental crisis, demographic changes and technology” it was expected to see DESIGNED priorities to cope with each one of these challenges. In addition, after the priorities it was expected to see designed TAYLORED objectives for each priority (During the presentation of the Vision on YouTube several times were mentioned, without any specification, the objectives, but in English pdf file version there is no clear objective evidenced). Moreover, after each objective, it was expected to see the measures, which permit the achievement of each objective.
But, the Vision, unfortunately, continues with other proclamations, which are somewhat related, yet not clearly focused on the challenges.

Of course, the articulation of the Vision has its own logic and a sort of consequentiality, but does not maintain fully its consistency connecting the idea of Jörn Donner (de-institutionalization, overcoming the problem of political representation), priorities/challenges (environmental crisis, demographic changes and technology), as well as aims (promoting environmental crisis, demographic changes and technology challenges as virtuous customary mindsets and practices). In general, the text can make sense for those who participated in its writing, but, beyond a metaphorical interpretation, without a syllabarium it is difficult for someone to understand it fully. And this is not a problem only for the present, but could also present a problem for the future, because if someone wants to build over this Vision after 2030 will find the same problems of de-codification.
The only consistency of the text, seen from a managerial structure perspective, is represented by the chapter “The proposed measures to achieve the vision”. But, even in this case, the “measures” present questionable qualitative and quantitative measurability, do not present parameters, numbers, transparency, and, being limited in proclamations, can be easily open to different interpretations. And, by the way, the experiences of the writer of these lines, especially in Tirana, Albania and Bergamo, Italy, teaches that a foggy vision with terminological and conceptual vagueness represent the perfect scenario for political representative bureaucrats to easily promote and disseminate as achievements reports plenty of smiley faces, colored green-washed and art-washed pictures followed by rhetorical and logorrheic emptiness.

Towards a syllabarium.
Creativity. When the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze tried to define an art work he started from its basic creative act. For him, a creative act is an act of resistance and an act of resistance is a creative act (link). Therefore, there is nothing wrong, on contrary, it is perfectly coherent the statement of the Vision “art and culture open the way to a creative Helsinki”.
But what is resistance in creative Helsinki of 2030?
Resistance is a Latin word: “re”= means “back” or “before” and confers the idea of opposition; and “sistere” is made of “si” a morphological particle which defines the doubling (reinforcement) of the radix “stare” which means “stay”, thus “sistere” = means “stay firmly”.
Thus what is concretely the firm step back of Helsinki 2030?
For an answer it is necessary to start again from the beginning. What are the challenges of Helsinki 2030? Once more: “the environment crisis, the demographic changes and technology”. Therefore, the challenges of environment crisis, demographic changes and technology need a resistance intended as a solid, firm and immovable step back.
Environmental Crisis. Considering that the Vision was conceived during a global pandemic situation, the independent committee could have easily clarify the idea of this resistance and connect it with the causes of the environment crisis – bourgeois industrial capitalism based on infinite consumption of superfluous goods – without being dispersive and without intending it in generic terms. Today is easier than ever to highlight, demonstrate and understand that the problem is the way human societies developed and/or are still developing. COVID19 exploded in China, caused by intensive, antagonistic and positivity-driven consumerism combined with urban densification. In other words, humans pressuring other species and natural space: less space for animals (bats are the wild animals from which the spillover occurred causing the pandemic exploded initially in a market of Wuhan); more space for humans or humanized space or anthropocentric space (Helsinki with a heart, spirit and consciousness!!!). Considering that the Vision suggests the environmental crisis as customary mind set and processes, and to make it more concrete and less generic for the context, by changing only the name of the bird, from bats to mallards, and the name of the city, from Wuhan to Helsinki, what is the difference in terms of intending the urban development model? Helsinki, same as Wuhan, is going towards densification, maybe using ecological material such as wood in high buildings of Kalasatama, Tripla or Länsibulevardi, but this will enlarge or diminish the space for mallards? Does a member of independent committee ask this question? Does the institution of provenience of each member ask this question? How creative are they in terms of resisting firmly by stepping back, so not only reducing impact but making space for animals, for the nature, for the otherness par excellence? It is complex, especially for a not so complex context such as Helsinki and Finland in general, but the world is complex and as pandemic teaches daily no one anywhere has the luxury to feel safe and enjoy a romanticized simple life plenty of well-being and good-living. So, are Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Swedish Cultural Foundation, Finnish National Opera and Ballet, Helsinki University of Arts, Helsinki Adult Education Center, UrbanApa, Artists’ Association of Finland, Finnish Metal Events, Cinematic, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Helsinki Cultural Service dealing concretely with this question? How? Is the response appropriate? Is it enough?
Demographic Changes. There is also another challenge which cannot be understood vaguely and in generic terms: the demographic changes. What are we talking about?

What does demographic changes mean in Helsinki? Means that the Finnish citizen of Helsinki are making more children? Isn’t better to face the problem and say that there is an IMMIGRATION challenge from now to 2030? Why in 32 pages of the Vision the word immigration is mentioned only ONCE/1? And again, considering that the Vision suggests the demographic changes as customary mind set and processes, what does it mean in creative terms, in terms of resisting by firmly stepping back, for the independent committee and their institutions of provenience? How do they concretely respond to this challenge? Is it appropriate? Is it enough involving one Albanian, Afghan, Somali, or Chinese responding to the challenge of demographic changes? Or it’s again a problem of making space without predetermined definitions, not for the animal and the otherness, as in the case of environment crisis, but firmly stepping back to make space for the human and the other? Isn’t it about welcoming and not only hospitality of the other and otherness? (The first measure of the independent committee’s Vision, “Helsinki will support distinctive, resident-initiated culture in residential areas”, sounds hospitable and welcoming towards the other like an automatic e mail from MIGRI office!)
Technology. To avoid questioning rhetorically once more the members of independent committee how they and their institutions of provenience (could) approach the technology challenge and turn it into a customary mindset and process it would be easier to remind that for Aristotle art is technê. In other words art and technology as well as artists and technologues/technologist are indivisible and indiscernible. Moreover, technology is basically projection of human body/organs (brain included) in space (Ernst Kapp, Elements of a Philosophy of Technology). Therefore, an artist using technology as part of its art work, without having its own corporeal (physical/mental) knowledge on the used technology, is not producing art work, but reproducing passively an alien and alienating technology as a consumable aestheticized good. This good, of course, can have an elementary intelligence and produce and reproduce by accelerating, as a pacemaker, pleasure intended as cultural identity enjoyment of a homogenizing ego (Roland Barthes), but cannot bring (to) “joy” (a perfect word used in the Vision), which is strictly connected with jouissance and beyond pleasure principal, with transgression of limits and de-territorialization, bringing the spirit towards the unknown and, in this manner, enriching its spirituality. Is it clear therefore what kind of creativity intended as resistance or firmly stepping back is needed for Helsinki 2030 in terms of technology challenge, especially knowing that this last is strictly interlinked to the environmental crisis (the otherness) and demographic changes (the other) challenges? Is it clear that art/technology cannot be limited in industrial gamming, with its losing-winning logic, but should be intended as industrial playing, involving and stimulating the plentitude of the human potentialities to explore the otherness and the other?
Last but not least. There is a last specification to highlight in this (by no means exhaustive) text regarding the Vision. It regards the distinction between “different” and “diverse”, which is somewhat given for granted in the Vision and, as conceptual and terminological definitions, are sometimes used in an obscure manner (e.g.: The city’s art sphere comprises a diverse set of different operators and the connections between them). In general it can be said that “different” it is about distinctions from the host, from the city of Helsinki 2030 in this case (human/animal; Finnish/non-Finnish; citizen/non-citizen; resident/non-resident); “diverse” is about change and not being hostage of the logic of the host, because the “diverse” has and uses another verse, code, rhythm, regime of doing and processing things. Trying to follow Donner’s idea of de-institutionalization and overcoming political representative and artistic representational aspect and maintaining the focus on environmental crisis, demographic changes, technology challenges as well as making them customary mindsets and processes, for the creative Helsinki 2030 wouldn’t be more consistent to change the mentality from a city which tolerates and accepts differences to a city which stimulates the potentialities of diversity? Of course for the bourgeois industrial capitalist mentality, focused on the accumulation of the value and financial profit, it is hard to sustain this change of mentality. And it is exactly the sustainability of a diversity-driven Vision in terms of accumulation of value and financial profit which seems insurmountable even for the artists and cultural operators. But someone, somewhere has to dare and, considering the privilege of scarce financial conflictuality and complexity, compared to other global situations, Helsinki seems an appropriate context.

To build, or not to build? That is the question regarding The National Theatre of Albania. (Romeo Kodra)

During the last COVID19 lock-down night, on May 17th, around 04.00 AM, the activists, artists and citizens, that occupied and resisted for almost two years inside the building of The National Theatre of Albania, were beaten and violated by the “Department of Eagles“, which has nothing to do with contemporary art, but with “Shqiponjat” / “Eagles” is the exact name of police quick intervention squad, which intervened without identification numbers like “die Sturmabteilung” or “le Camicie Nere” of 2020, remembering Albanians the times they live in.

On May 17th 2020, the bulldozers of the Albanian government erased The National Theatre although the pan-European cultural heritage organization Europa Nostra weeks earlier had selected it as one of the European cultural heritage monuments at risk. Actually, the building thanks to the support of EU institutions had very good possibilities to be restored and renovated with EU funds. However, the government of Edi Rama and mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, decided to accelerate the money laundry machine, erasing The Theatre and opening in this manner a new 200 million euros construction site for “modern” towers.

Pleurad Xhafa’s installation, “Two Hundred Million Euros in Five Hundred Notes”, destroyed under the rubble of The Theatre.

The very next day, the activists, artists, and citizens protested for several days in Tirana and started a tour of protests in several cities of Albania during which they distributed a petition, collecting signatures, for the re-building of The National Theatre “where it was and how it was” (sign the petition if you agree / link).

According my opinion, rebuilding “The National Theatre where it was and how it was” is a sort of symptomatic reaction which denotes the drift of the authoritarian governmentality of these last 100 hundred years in Albania.

The National Theatre, at the time known as “Il Circolo Italo-Albanese Scanderbeg” was a product of fascist colonial practices carried out by Mussolini to impress “the indigenous” (Albanians of the time) with its Italian architectural rationalism, this last a sort of “misunderstanding of the modern” (at least, this was the opinion of the critic Bruno Zevi on Italian architectural rationalism). Thus, “Il Circolo Italo-Albanese Scanderbeg” was a building which spectacularized the fascist politics and colonialism as well as the figure of the authoritarian leader, being Scanderbeg or Mussolini itself. It had nothing to do, from an architectonic and/or urban point of view, with the Albanian context of the time (it was constructed few months before the invasion or the “annexation” of Albania by Italian troupes in 1939). The only integration with the context was through the “zipper axes” boulevard (“asse cerniera”) constructed by Italians urban planners, which, as an alien urban dispositif, divided the retrograded, ottoman, old Tirana and modern, Western, “new Tirana” / Tirana e Re (this is the name, still today, through which is known the quarter of the western part of the Boulevard).

All the constructions in Albania, including the Boulevard as well as “Il Circolo Italo-Albanese Scanderbeg“, were financially managed by SVEA, an Italian-Albanian financial institution, which, knowing the impossibility of the Albanians to repay the debts, granted large sums in the form of loans to the highly corrupted self-proclaimed King Ahmet Zogu and his government. Through this lack of repayment Mussolini justified in front of the Italian Parliament the invasion or “annexation” of Albania, as he liked to consider it, justified by a large part of Albanian collaborationist intelligentsia.

Albanian Minister and poet Ernest Koliqi (in center, black suit) with Italian Lieutnant Francesco Jacomoni (center, white uniform), “Il Circolo Italo-Albanese Scanderbeg”, 1942.

Ahmet Zogu, the former Prime Minister who had proclaimed himself King of Albanians in 1928, a day before Italian invasion, on April 6th 1939 abandoned Albania passing the Greek border with his family and a large quantity of gold.

On May 21st, 2020, four days after the erasure of The National Theatre, Erion Veliaj, the mayor of Tirana, apparently forgetting the possibility to restore The Theatre with EU funds without taxing the Albanians, send an official request to the Prime Minister Edi Rama, asking the permission to apply for 30 million euro loan at European Bank of Investment – “with very favorable financial conditions” – for the construction of the new Theatre, which will be placed on 30% of the territory of the former Theatre, leaving the rest to Fusha Family affairs.

I guess, through this elementary information, the circle of governmentality is completely evident. In other words, in Albania there is an ongoing process of return to the roots: of violence, erasure, corruption, financial speculation and political spectacularization through architectonic monumental constructions which characterized the beginnings of fascism.

B.I.G. Bjarke Ingels Group, proposal for The National Theatre.

To jump out of the circle, the rebuilding of “The Theatre where it was and how it was” does not indicate the right direction. Knowing somewhat the Albanian context, generally speaking, therefore including but not limiting the discourse on the case of The National Theatre, I tend to prefer neither to erase nor erect buildings nor monuments. If buildings and monuments are erased or erected, I guess it is preferable to deal with them or what remains of them, to cultivate a relation with their presence or absence. This does not means that the resistance against the mafia in government, when it erases or erects, was and is not necessary. On contrary. The resistance should be intensified. However, the context needs sobriety. Needs less, not more. Less buildings, not more buildings.

In the case of The National Theatre or what remains of it, the resistance should continue on “The Empty Space” of The Theatre, to quote Peter Brooks and maybe witness the materialization of its vision. In this space, to escape the circular symptom of “Il circolo Italo-Albanese Scanderbeg”, should be preserved the erasure and evidenced its foundations, literally, as a sort of Chris Burden installation, making clear the concrete profits of the last 100 years.

Chris Burden, Exposing the Foundation of the Museum, Los Angeles, 1986.

The curtain of the Albanian National Theatre came down. ‘Starving, skinny ribs wolves’ are coming. (Romeo Kodra)

The Albanian National Theatre is erased by the government of Edi Rama and the Tirana’s Mayor Erion Veliaj.

Albanian National Theatre, 17 May 2020

This erasure was expected, from 2014, when the government of Edi Rama, after the selection of a puppet National Theatre director, separated the workers from their working place (Dear Karl Marx, what would you do to explain, to a former marxist-leninist country, what does it mean!?!?!?), by changing their contracts from unlimited in time to fixed-term contracts (from 3 up to 18 months). In this manner, through precarization, the workers (not only actors) were easy pray of Prime Minister’s extortion. The result is that defending The Theatre, on May 17th 2020, beyond the citizen volunteers and activists, was only one of the actual contracted actors of the national institution, Neritan Liçaj (I am not sure if Mehdi Malkaj, the other actor actively involved against the demolition, is still under contract with the institution).

This blog is full of this kind of materials. In Albanian language, unfortunately, for lazy art researchers from abroad, or luckily, for those who know Albanian and can copy for free and sell it as their own research in different languages. Anyway, although the smartest ones will deliberately continue to copy without quoting, here it is a translated sample from AKSREVISTA of June 12th 2014 (link):

“Last week the actors of the National Theatre, unlike those of the Opera and Ballet, signed the “contemporary” contracts of the Ministry of Culture. Ndriçim Xhepa, Yllka Mujo, Rajmonda Bulku, Bujar Asqeriu, Fadil Kujofsa, Vangjel Toçe, Mehdi Malkaj, Marjeta Ljarja, Sokol Angjeli, Eva Alikaj, Vasjan Lami, Artan Imami, Dritan Boriçi, Dritan Boriçi, Helidon Fino, Anila Bisha Çisha, Indrit , Olta Daku, Neritan Liçaj, Arben Derhemi, Marjana Kondi, Alfred Bualioti, Anil Frashёri, Ermela Teli, Lulzim Zeqja, Genti Deçka, Gerti Ferraj are the current members of the troupe of the National Theater, that signed the new contracs limited in time, as proposed by the Ministry of Culture. I want to make public their names, because these actors – for their weakness, deliberate malice, or ignorance – deserves to enter the contemporary Albanian history as signatories of the demolition of the first public Albanian cultural and artistic institution.
The controversy that occurred years ago, between Edi Rama and the actors of this institution, for the demolition of the building of National Theatre finished with a concrete ‘nothing’. The National Theatre remained in its place. Now, this situation, if repeated, would undoubtedly see the country’s prime minister as the winner. I don’t have the magic sphere, but I have the impression that very soon we will see the Prime Minister’s hammer beating in the same place. Edi Rama, today, would easily succeed, because the real actors of the National Theatre are dead.”

So, the end was in the air. The same predatory strategy was and is still applied in Albania from 1991 by all the political parties that formed the government: separation of the workers from their working places and consecutive privatization of the whole country (industries, factories, mines, oil wells, etc.). However there is no focus in this issue in each protest I ever participated. And the protest against the demolition of The National Theatre is one of them. The difficulty to articulate this issue depends by the infiltration of every single protest from political and para-political forces, such as Democratic Party/PD, Socialist Party/PS, Socialist Movement for Integration/LSI or Open Society Foundation for Albania/OSFA/Soros, etc. Therefore there is no possibility for a democratic change based on progressive ideas taking place while these reactionary forces are around.

However, to be honest, in the last few weeks, I thought maybe even this time the National Theatre could resist Edi Rama’s attack, because of a very hard work of some protesters, part of Alliance for the Defense of Theatre, that proposed and obtained from Europa Nostra the status of “endangered European Cultural Monument” for the National Theatre (link).

But, unfortunately, Europa Nostra is not the European Union, the representative/ambassador of which in Albania is Luigi Soreca, that apparently, involved in more important activities to pave the way of the country towards EU, has no comments regarding the peoples revolt against the demolition. The Alliance in Defense of Theatre while I am writing have already sent a request (May, 18th) for pronunciation to the Ambassador (link).

Romina Kuko vice-minister of Interior and Luigi Soreca, some Albanian media reported a sex video scandal between the two with no concrete evidences.

Actually I do not know where the EU finds its representative to send in Albania. The last one, Romana Vlahutin, seemed a porno actress coming out from Pornhub milf category, with the same “accuracy” regarding sobriety (link).

The ass number 16 is that of the former minister of interior Tahiri, linked with the mafia according Italian prosecutors.

The Alliance for the Defense of Theatre has also sent a request of pronunciation to that Manchurian Candidate, named Yuri Kim, a cyborg that happens to be the US Ambassador in Albania. In this case, the request to me sounds so absurd that is even hard to believe. Our Big Brother, thanks to the Monroe Doctrine of which we, as Albanians, have our independence, but also the fruits of its psychotic struggle for hegemony, I am sure will be the biggest supporter of Edi Rama and, by defending his operation, will give him more credibility just to intimidate the protesters and return to “normality”.

As I see it there is no hope from nowhere, being EU or USA, except from the people resisting fascism with the adequate weapons. The Albanian history speaks for itself.

What can we learn from the history, not only the Albanian history actually, is that the fascism does not permit any choice: it evokes always and everywhere a Piazzale Loreto, it starts and finishes succumbing in its spectacle.

Actually it is not only my perception that this will happen later or soon in Albania. There are for example other artist that somehow, through their works, transmit and evoke the same feelings. See in this regard “REASSAMBLE” of Pleurad Xhafa, a video of 2017 focused on the traumatic history of the WWII and the donation of Walter Audisio, an Italian partisan, to the “heroic people of Albania” of the machine gun with which was executed Benito Mussolini, conserved at the National Historic Museum:

or Ergin Zaloshnja’s quasi-Fellinian “Naming the Halter in the Hanged Man’s House” of the same year, which tries to provoke after the newly designed Tirana’s Central Square and the mafia-government affair behind:

But before concluding it is important to mention a historical reference to this contemporary somber omens. There is a poet and writer I love. His name, Millosh Gjergj Nikolla, known as Migjeni (1911-1938). He was from Shkodra, serbian mother tongue, but deliberately wanted to write in a minor, foreign for him, language, like Albanian. His Albanian language, like his verses in terms of metre, are far from perfect. Yet, there is no other author in Albanian language that sounds as perfect as him in terms of tonality, in terms of relations, stability, attractions of images created through words, which makes his writing an incomparable distinguished gesture.

In one of his essays, entitled “Novel on Crisis” (Novelë mbi krizë), Migjeni writes about a city “the elite” of which, to “fight” poverty, “changed the face of the city” by constructing “wonderful monuments” (a clear reference to the Albanian situation of the time under the self-proclaimed King Ahmet Zogu). And the elite was “competing among each other” in this race of aesthetization of poverty (here the author refers to his historical and social context, but, one year after the death of Migjeni, with the fascist invasion in 1939, with a more intensive aesthetization of poverty, his words sound more as a prophecy or discerning premonitory vision). However, the poorest, still starving, felt “colorful like the monuments under the sun”. But, not too late, after the destruction of the monuments “the day of beggars’ lynch came”, the day of “starving, skinny ribs wolves”. The End.

To me these “beggars” that start “lynching” hungry like “starving, skinny ribs wolves” seem a good image to understand the Albania after the liberation and the partisans persecuting an entire so-called elite of the time, from aristocratic and conservators to progressive and social democrats or other center as well as moderate leftists, all guilty of being too soft, uncertain, or reluctant, according the partisans, to fight against fascism and privileged classes. The terror of the time is better described in some of Kasëm Trebeshina’s poignant and surgical pages. I also remember my grandfather, a member of “Çeta e Pezës”, the first anti-fascist military group in Albania, and later partisan, that during the last years before passing away, in 1994, was used to tell me stories of this terror while hunting the fascists or fascists collaborators in Northern Albania and Yugoslavia. He was used to say “there were no bones or tails left” (“as rrasht as bisht”), a phrase that brings in mind Migjeni’s “starving, skinny ribs wolves” devouring their prey.

The National Theatre in 1944 after the liberation was taken from the fascists and Nazis with real weapons. Was occupied by starving people, which had never had the possibility to frequent the elitist “Scanderbeg Circle”, this was the name of the multi-functional complex, which became after the liberation The Popular Theatre, a theater of the poorest for the poorest. And, during these times of resistance against the demolition, the history of under-privileged classes occupying the elite’s institutions, the symbolic institutions of colonization, converted in symbolic institutions of culture, if not at all, rarely came out or was clearly articulated as the real value to preserve of the history of National Theatre. And it is because of the aforementioned political and para-political infiltration of each protest that this value is continuously erased. However, now, with the demolition of the National Theatre by Edi Rama’s government and Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, the elitist race towards the aesthetization of poverty is coming to an end. The Theatre’s curtain is down. The “starving, skinny ribs wolves” are coming soon.

P.S. It was impossible to defend The National Theatre from the demolition without clarifying its fascist roots, its instrumental construction to promote a spectacular fascist regime through architectonic modernization for the colonization of a country. It was impossible to defend from the demolition The Theatre without evidencing its fundamental value, in other words the power of the poorest to convert a symbolic building of colonization in a symbolic building of culture. Without this clarification Edi(p) Rama’s psychosis and all the neoliberal ass-lickers of the contemporary art system have reduced and will reduce the erasure of this European Monument of Cultural Heritage as an Albanian feud between government and opposition.

Chi parla? (Romeo Kodra)

Guardate bene questa merda, dalle sembianze umane, che parla! E, soprattutto, ascoltatelo! Si chiama Edi Rama. Non sta parlando all’Italia e neppure agli italiani! Addirittura non sta parlando neppure lui. Altri scrivono i suoi discorsi. Lui sta seplicemente, come un troll ai tempi del virus, lanciando delle password che in futuro scoprirete nel loro vero significato.

Caramellate dalle dolci parole della “fratellanza”, “amicizia”, “ospitalità”, “memoria” e altre stronzate, delle quali lo stronzo parlante non ha manco la più pallida idea, le sue password sono quelle che mirano l’UE e verrano riprese da una Meloni qualsiasi, la quale verrà presto alla ribalta politica italiana per rialzare “muri” ancora più alti sui confini (sparando sulle imbarcazioni di migranti come ultimamente in Grecia oppure speronandole come nel canale di Otranto qualche anni addietro), magari organizzando anche campi di concentramento proprio in Albania dallo stronzo parlante.

Credete che la LEGA ha distrutto la sanità in Lombardia con le privatizzazioni e un domani sarà sul banco degli imputati proprio per il disastro attuale? Ecco, la merda che parla in Albania sta faccendo la stessa cosa, le stesse politiche ma non andrà mai sul banco degli imputati, perché il banco, qui, non c’è da anni ormai con il beneplacito dell’UE&USA (quindi, neanche la LEGA ci andrà).

Come si fa a dire che una destra come la LEGA faccia la stessa politica di un “socialista” (perché la merda parlante è il Primo Segretario del Partito Socialista Albanese per chi non lo sapesse)? Facile, pensate a Renzi e le somiglianze delle sue politiche con Berlusconi, dove al centro delle loro visioni politiche non sono i lavoratori e il loro benessere, ma il profitto e il funzionamento della machina imprenditoriale. La differenza è che lo stronzo fatto uomo proviene dal laboratorio dei Balcani dove Soros e Trump, i quali sulla scena italiana e americana sembrano antagonisti dal punto di vista politico, hanno da tempo palesato gli stessi interessi e vanno d’accordissimo (si veda il ruolo di Alex Soros dietro l’accordo per il “mini-Schengen” balcanico tra Vucic e Rama con l’esclusione della Kosova e il suo Primo Ministro Kurti, il quale proprio l’altro giorno ha visto cadere il suo governo grazie all’inviato di Trump, Grenell, perché non accettava gli accordi Rama-Vucic e il cambio dei confini Kosova-Serbia su basi etniche).

In Albania, Kosova, Bosnia Erzegovina e dintorni il fascismo si sta già assorbendo, sta diventando normalità: lo stato è il governo e il governo è il leader. Da queste parti, che somigliano molto alla Lombardia e all’Italia di oggi, è il lider, il governo, lo stato che decide chi deve uscire per andare a lavoro ed essere libero. Quindi, il dado è tratto. Come si diceva una volta, Arbeit Macht Frei, no? E non mi pare siamo molto lontani da tutto ciò.

Conoscendo l’Italia come un paese dove le revoluzioni sono sempre conservatrici e prendono pieghe solamente fascistoide, un domani, proprio per conservare il marcio e la putrefazione del modello “sanità d’eccellenza lombarda” che in mano ai privati ha dato i frutti di oggi, e non rovesciare il sistema in toto, lo slogan sarà quello già collaudato: “prima gli italiani”. Ma non detto da Salvini e le sue ciurme battezzate col rito celtico sulle fonti del Po, ma da una pura cattolicissima romana de Roma come la Meloni. Quindi, niente revoluzione. E, per far contenta l’intelighenzia sinistroida wikipediano-italiana con le sue visioni da cricetto sulla ruota, non ci saranno nemmeno privatizzazioni. Sarà lo stato ad occuparsi della sanità, ma solo per gli italiani, sul modello, anche questo collaudatissimo, corporativistico.

“It’s high time for bullets to tinkle across museum walls”. (Romeo Kodra)

Regarding the last exhibition Prova of Adrian Paci at The National Gallery of Arts in Tirana, at the end of the post, I wrote:

To conclude, in Paci’s National Gallery showcased works one is always in front of an art of ideas and never in front of an idea of arts, always in front of an idea expressed through a medium or media and never in front of an idea of medium or media. In other words, in front of the endless prove of consumerist reproduction and commodification of art, which more than with the aesthetic of arts has to do with anesthetic policies.

Recently, at The National Gallery of Arts in Tirana is open the new exhibition: Tirana Patience, curated by Nataša Ilić and Adam Szymczyk. According to the curators the idea is to open the paintings collection of socialist realism (actually it is written “realist socialist”, which I hope is the rough Albanian version given to the reader by the notary that The National Gallery payed for the “professional” translation) on which contemporary artists will act by performing or discussing with the public. In other words, according the curators, the idea is “not to exhibit/display the works, but to temporarily withdraw the artworks of the past from view of the visitors” (I am freely translating the Albanian version of the text).

I have not seen the exhibition. But do I need to see it? Do I need to visit The National Gallery of Arts directed by Edi(p) Rama’s nominated director Erzen Shkololli and judge afterwords the anesthetic artistic and cultural policies of the fascistoid regime installed in Albania? Do I need to visit the exhibition where the text’s concepts (I feel generous to call these bullshitting “concepts”) are clearly anesthetic (Tirana Patience, so to say “Tirana, do not act, stay at home and reflect, maybe reading Edi Rama’s and Ardian Klosi’s Refleksione or George Soros’ Theory of Reflexivity” … or just entertain yourself by playing patience game/solitaire)? Do I need to visit The National Gallery of Arts to understand that Nataša Ilić and Adam Szymczyk, if not two illiterates of the context, are just two contemporary art prostitutes prostituting their status as foreign curators – supposed as acknowledged – and sold to the – supposed ignorant of arts and contemporary art – Albanians, as usually is done in our contemporary version of panem et circenses way of governing? Do I need to visit Tirana Patience to see, once more, how the arts and artists, with or without their will (lucky the dead ones, that cannot see what is done to them and their works!!!), are prostituted? Do I need to visit the exhibition to see how Intervista of Anri Sala will be interpreted, again and again and again, through pseudo-Freudian lenses of unconscious repression and not through a correct translation of the Albanian and discover than the “hand” of the “mama’s wunderkind” but also of the French art professors that know very well the contemporary art market needs? Do I need to see the displayed and dis-covered artworks by the contemporary artists to understand that the same lenses will be used even in this exhibition, where enough is never enough when it comes to the reactionary exoticisation of “communism era” covered by the left-washing critical passwords such as “post-truth”, “neoliberism”, “paved ways of democracies”, “social and political revolutions”, and so on and so forth?

Actually the answer of these questions is obviously rhetoric. But fortunately in Albania there is art circulating, but out of the institutions. It circulates on the walls, intended as facades of buildings and social media profiles (sounds restrictive, limited and even ridicule, but the regime have already erased every other possibility for free art expression). One of these is the so-called campaign of some activists against one of the so-called Albanian oligarchs, which is not more than an ordinary mafia criminal that has made is fortune through money laundry, corruption of politicians as well as exploitation of workers. His name is Samir Mane, connected with Edi Rama’s government, but also with the former government of Sali Berisha.

The activists’ campaign started when Samir Mane, the owner of Albchrome, fired some miners of Bulqiza, because they dared to found a miners union with the help of Organizata Politike. It is normal in a fascist country governed by Edi Rama, that openly declares the lack of workers’ unions which makes the country more attractive for the investors. Anyways, the fact is that “Saimir Mane oppresses the workers” appeared everywhere.

OP thellon fushatën publike kundër Samir Manes

The Facebook page Bojkoto Samir Manen, calling to boycott all the products of Mane’s companies, was created. Yet, even Mane’s payed slaves entered in action, erasing the writings.

This erasures brought me in mind a work of 2014 with Sead Kazanxhiu, Erasure … We Would Prefer Emilo Isgrò, where me and Sead were destroying and erasing with “big bold strokes”, like Edi Rama, the children’s artistic creations. Unfortunately, time passes, and our provocative action does not seem any more as such, but sicks to the real wound of our reality.


But not only. All these actions of writing and erasing brought me in mind, as some others followers of the Bojkoto Samir Manen Facebook Page also noticed, even a cartoon from the state socialism period. It is titled Parrulla V.F.L.P. (The Slogan: Death to Fascism, Freedom to the People), with author my late friend Gëzim Qëndro, when he was a creative and still not an art critic.

And again these actions project me to Lacan and the concept of littoral (in Lituraterre) when the psychoanalyst reading Edgar Allan Poe plays in a Joycean phonetic manner with the letter, litteral and littoral, with the coast+line or the border of the subjectivization. In other words, there where the art is taking place, where its aesthetics are challenged in their becoming by decodification and recodification. As the reader can imagine we are talking about the other pole of the prostitutional anesthetics of The National Gallery of Arts.

To conclude, I should add that this article it is not to show how prophetic I have been by anticipating The National Gallery of Arts anesthetics artistic and cultural policies, which were punctually materialized through Tirana Patience concepts. This article is to stress even more the cognitive influence of the capitalism that produces shitty persons, artists, politicians, societies as well as environment. Just take a look of these picture of Samir Mane and a caricature of a capitalist by Mayakovsky (it was also quoted somewhere in the page of Bojkoto Samir Manen, which I cannot find … however, Chapeau to the person who did it!). Is this a prototype of the capitalist? How could Mayakovsky figure Mane 100 years ago?

Samir Mane by Majakovski?

And please check what Mane Trade Construction Investments produces. Below you see the green periphery of Tirana and Mane’s urban and architectural intervention made of a complex of luxury (kitschy) villas.

Samir Mane’s Rolling Hills and Long Hill.

Rolling Hills Luxury Residencies it is not ironic at all. In this territorial and environment consuming gut is self-barricaded le crèm de la crème of the Albanian new money bourgeoisie. Even in this case the cognitive effects of capitalism are visible.

So, this article is written to make people somehow realize all the signals we are daily facing. And not only visual signals. All the Albanians know that Sali Berisha stands behind the deaths of the tragedy of Gërdec, Ilir Meta behind the deaths of 21 January as well as Edi Rama behind the large part of deaths of the last earthquake when people were left in damaged and unsafe houses. Therefore, it is not anymore time for metaphors and posting bullets (as the case of Armando Lulaj), but, quoting Mayakovsky, “[i]t’s high time for bullets to tinkle across museum walls” and make feel not the reality but the real to the prostitutes of the politics and arts in Albania and/or visiting Albania.

Western Balkans mini-Schengen as the art of neoliberalism monumentalisation and genocide normalization. (Romeo Kodra)

Me and Neoliberalism. In March 2017, with some French and international friends, I was involved in a project regarding monumentalisation, art and power. My ignorance regarding the French elections, happening in the same period, was almost embarrassing, but in the middle of an animated discussion, regarding the way Hollonde and Le Pen (according the polls and survays the two leading pre-elections candidates) were conducting their campaigns, I interfered with saying that the more neoliberal of all the candidates, the more apparently empty in terms of ideology, was Macron and for this reason I thought he will be the winner of the French elections. I did not know how distant was Macron in the polls/surveys before the elections, but was a lot behind Le Pen and Hollonde. I sustained my thoughts by saying that I was coming from the avant-garde laboratory of neoliberalism, so I was somehow “talking to them from the future” (Any occasion is good to show my modesty!).

With my friends, experts of the Balkan region, I had some other exchanges regarding the neoliberalism and its more advanced challenging laboratory: Bosnia and Herzegovina. I said that for me, somewhat connected with Bosnian war for familial reasons, it would be better dealing with Serbians killing Bosnians and Albanians or vice-versa, rather than installation of neoliberal states in Bosnia & Herzegovina, or Balkans in general. Because I see the ancestral ethnic hate of the region (it is good to remember that every hate has its love counterpart), an ethnic hate with which I and Balkan people are “used to”, or at least know “how to deal with”, I see it as a sort of barrier against neoliberalism. With this last, it is different. The neoliberalism transforms and deforms anthropologically all the social and cultural relations (that unite Balkan and its people), domesticating the human and its bios towards self+consumerism as an end in itself.

I do not know if I explained myself or just shocked my interlocutors. However I think there are still few studies regarding the neoliberalism and especially its effects, which I think, when done, will mitigate the shock of my thoughts regarding better living with Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian killers killing each other rather than dealing with neoliberalism as a unique alternative for any State. We’ll see.

Balkan’s mini-Schengen and geopolitics. Few days ago, in Tirana, was held a meeting between the representatives of Albania (Edi Rama), Montenegro (Milo Đukanović), Serbia (Aleksandar Vučić) and Northern Macedonia (Zoran Zaev), regarding the so-called Western Balkans mini-Schengen, a free trade zone, from which Kosova, bordering in the middle of these countries, is self-excluded. The main reasons for the Kasovars self-exclusion are not fully economic, but has to do mainly with the lack of Serbian recognition of Kosova as an independent state and above all with the Aleksandar Vučić genocide denial of Kosova’s war in 1999.

Unexpectedly, regarding Edi(p) Rama’s actions, I saw a lot of stupor in Kosova’s media and social meida. This stupor is turning gradually in various level of pity, refusal, hate, etc., against Rama.

Photo collage like this are everywhere online …

The reason of this reaction is because of the ignorance and ignoring the geopolitics, political representative figures like those we in Balkans have, and the laboratory of neoliberalism.

Let’s try to clarify some things.

Months ago Edi(p) Rama was pro and supporting the exchange of territories between Serbia and Kosova, a territorial exchange ethnically based, on which Kosova’s President Hashim Thaçi and Serbia’s homologue Aleksandar Vučić were talking during several meetings. Only the resistance of Kosovars in Kosova and Serbians in Serbia and part of their political representatives (by the way all claiming the territories as parts of the country they belong) as well as the subsequent intervention of Merkel impeded the factual exchange. The exchange was, not openly, but supported by the US and pushed further, openly, by Mogherini, EU Foreign Affairs higher representative.

The risk was, once more, to make Kosova a laboratory for the future, as in the case of military intervention of 1999, which justified the wars in Iraq, Syria, and so on. In this case, in the future, we could have seen some political representatives of states, “supported” by the geopolitical powers, exchange, sell or donate territories based on ethnicity. And all done by their “initiatives”, so reconfirming the “independence of the states” and the worldwide “democracy”. In other words, open doors to racism and creation of pure ethnic states … there is an urgent need of literacy on what was the ideal form of states according nazi-fascists.

What is most impressive in all this debate is the ignorance circulating in media and public opinion. Nobody sees that some shitty politicians like the Albanians, Serbians, Kosovars ones, think that have the power (really!?!?!?) to exchange territories, to intervene strategically in the geopolitical map, a luxury reserved only to the superpowers like US, Russia, China and no one else. This luxury it is not reserved neither to sates like Germany, France or Italy, which can only, with the permission of the US, have a voice in the tactical development of their interests and influence within the territories under US control.

Considering that, for the moment, the issue of territorial exchange was left behind. The next issue, mini-Schengen, or the mantra “neoliberalism above all”, even above your memories, victims, blood, rapes, came out: the above-mentioned meeting between Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Northern Macedonia with Kosova self-excluded.

The public debates regarding these meetings are centered around the Albanian politics and politicians, which are not taking (at all or enough) in considerations the Kosova’s interests in this situation, as if the Albania was a sort of mother or father. Actually I am surprised how the people are still willing of paternalism. But soon it will come again, not in the form of a State, motherland or fatherland, but in the form of a still hierarchic, familar, Oedipal system.

Neoliberalism: what is this, beyond boring theorization? To explain neoliberalism in few lines, especially for Kosovars that do not know Edi(p) Rama, is better to make the example of George Soros.

In other words, just as in the case of George Soros saving his life and making money by confiscating goods to Jewish people, during Second World War, the Kosovars and Balkan people should go beyond and erase their terrible memories, without elaborating anything, just making business “as in the market”, because “someone else will do it”. No matter that even more Kosovars, Albanians, and Serbians, will die every day, as slaves of neoliberalism, because of course never misses someone else that will have to do it, someone that will have to make money on memories, victims, blood. We’ll see.

Helsinki’s Boulevardisation Case. (Romeo Kodra)

La prostituée du boulevard de Clichy et l’inspecteur qui la surveille ont tous les deux de mauvais souliers et tous les deux ont mal aux pieds d’avoir arpenté des kilomètres de bitume.

Georges Simenon.

Prelude. Etymologically the “Boulevard/Bulwerk”, a Dutch term, in XIV Century, entered in French language meaning: a “bastion, walls of fortification (the flat walkway over the top of the bastion)”, a word connected with defensive militarization and control of political power; and later “a large city road, promenade”, indicating an urban space for the spectacular circulation of objects (commodities) and subjects (people).

The semantic transition, from a bastion to a promenade, occurred during Le Roi Soleil Louis XIV, when the old bastions of Paris, after the construction of the new ones in a larger perimeter, were erased to make space for a wide tree-lined promenade.

During my research on this topic, I found significant that the first examples of the boulevards as urban dispositive of political power control appeared almost in the same period: in Paris within Haussmann’s renovation in 1853, and Vienna “by the will” of Kaiser Franz Joseph in 1857, transforming the old fortification walls in Ringstrasse, demonstrating in this manner the “will of openness and democratic dialogue”.

In addition, the boulevard is also a clear imperialistic political gesture, in terms of urban space, which delineates the subjectivization of a changing regime of power and governmentality. Following the Lacanian reading, to have a subject there must be “the trace”, walls/fortification in this case, “the erasure of the trace”, transformation of fortification in boulevard, and “marking of the erasure”, monumentalization of the boulevard.

In fact, three points need to be distinguished: the trace, the erasure of the trace and the marking of the erasure. It is at this level that the signifier arises and the subject emerges.

PETTIGREW, David and François RAFFOUL. 1996. Disseminating Lacan. Albany, NY.: State University of New York Press, p.39.

This process can also be considered as a new governmentality (Foucault), changing from the societies of discipline to the societies of control (Deleuze Gilles, Postscript on the Societies of Control, October, vol. 59, Winter 1992, pp. 3-7, The MIT Press). This governmentality and this control become more clear when, in its support, a full state apparatus is revealed, made of financial institutions, laws, construction mega-companies, famous architects/artists.

And last, but not least, to complete this picture, the representational aspects of the political power gesture are almost always represented faithfully by the formal aspects of arts (urban planning, architecture, sculpture/monument), reproducing altogether or at least one of the following aspects:
a) the alignment with the boulevard,
b) the verticality of urban objects (architectures, monuments)
c) hermeticism/closure sense emanated by these objects.

Therefore, it is with Haussmann’s urban interventions in Paris (1853) and transformation of Vienna’s bastions in Ring Strasse (1857) that the boulevard’s double signification, from one side, conceptually, evidenced the “twofold nature of capitalism” and “formation of [its] sovereignty” (Deleuze/Guattari – Anti-Oedipus); and, from the other side, historically, “the change of regime and governmentality”, from despotic absolutism to enlightened despotism. In other words, seems like the Ancien Régime, after the Congress of Vienna, to “tolerate the bourgeoisie” to participate in political power and prevent further revolutionary atrocities and nationalism, by erasing the bastions, tried to demonstrate openness and democratic dialogue with its subjects, and, by constructing spectacular boulevards, to codify and control their consumption and circulation.

Since then, the boulevard marks and mirrors the change of regime and governmentality of political powers, with all its related political power discourse, the bureaucratic procedures, the organized rationality by defining, shaping, guiding and affecting people and their conduct in the city space, which make the boulevard a perfect dispositive to measure the social pressure and control of political power regimes.

Helsinki’s boulevardisation. In 2015 Helsinki’s Urban Plan was drafted by the Urban Environment Division of the Municipality. The first out of ten themes of the draft regarded “densification”, which was justified under the pretext of “increasing of the population” caused by the arrivals of “migrants”. The main urban tools used for the densification were “city boulevards”. Simultaneously the Urban Environment Division released another document, “City Boulevards in Helsinki”, where appeared an unusual term, namely “boulevardisation”.

In 2017 the plan was approved.

However, two problems can be noticed. Firstly, there is no information and deep analyses on Finnish tradition of “densification/boulevardisation” and the perception of the Finns regarding “densification/boulevardization”. Secondly, the participation of the migrants in public hearings and other platforms for public participation, being them the main reason that justified the densification and “boulevardisation”, until now, it is unknown.

So, what is Helsinki’s “boulevardisation”? In what type of “boulevard” is based? Following the etymology, to have a “boulevard” there must be an erasure. What is being erased though? At the beginning, after the Congress of Vienna, the boulevards were a sort of consequence of the decision of the Ancien Régime to tolerate the lower bourgeois class to participate in political power and avoid in this manner the nationalism. In this regard, is there any connection between this approach and the decision of Helsinki’s Municipality to densify and boulevardize because of the migrants? Moreover, to resist against the boulevardistation is somehow connected with nationalism and the resistance against the migration? Regarding the governmentality, what are the mechanisms of management and administration (work processes, procedures, rules, laws), as well as the ways of classifying individuals or groups (by income, nationality, and professional categories), which allow power institutions – in this case Helsinki Municipality/Urban Environment Division and Migratin Office – for their identification, classification, ordering, and control? And last, but not least, what are the similarities and differences in terms of representational aspects of art displayed in urban and public space of boulevard?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I am living in Finland, Espoo near Helsinki, from May of this year. I have never seen a city with more open construction sites in the same time as Helsinki. And I am coming from Tirana … In Tirana there is a lot of mafia and money laundry supported by the government. I do not know very well the Helsinki’s context, but there are a lot of signs that things are not much better. Yet, what most impresses me is the passivity of “Finns” towards this urban development booming. And, without knowing why, I feel like “something is rotten in the state of … Finland”.

There is a web pop-up that reminds me this feeling … and Pacific (1967) of David Alexander Colville.