I am thankful for all the superb (and equally tough) conversations I've had this year with artists, curators, architects, students, writers, filmmakers, and all other creatives (be they intellectuals, professionals, or enthusiasts) near and far, in Albania and abroad. There are a lot of individuals and groups that care about the tiny creative scene in Albania. I am one of them.
In the past few months, I have witnessed and been a part of (I admit, not as much as others) a great deal of fight and passion (in social media) to re-value the Albanian artistic thought, process and product, so it can re-merge (ever so slightly) stronger in quality and not be reduced to a political institution's agenda. We all want and are trying to help it gain ground and (re)establish itself, but part of the challenge has been the dialog.
Dialog between creative content and the event it is a part of. Dialog between this content and how its event is promoted. Dialog between artistic intent and media mediocrity and speculation. Dialog between artistic thought that wants to educate the masses and media ignorance that misinforms. Dialog between accurate historical inheritance and adopted social hipster(ic) trends.
I noticed a trend this year. Most (if not all) anticipated cultural events in previously communist hideouts, turned out to be hipster(ic) parties (at least that's what they looked like from afar). As in, there was a faint interest among the public, old and new, but only in the 'kept hidden from us' allure of its materialism (and selfie opportunity) than in the 'let's roll up our sleeves, dig deeper into its purpose, the fear and paranoia of those who built it, hid it, the intentions of those who opened it, and truly study the consequences it had on the lives, ideologies, labor, prosecution and the making of the same society who now participates only as a visitor, a hipster commodity.
Dialog between the new of the past, the new of the future, and how the new of now 'suspends historical consciousness while desperately fills itself with content'.(1) Dialog of whatever happens (or needs to happen) between the quality of means and the value of ends.
Dialog between artists' skills and institutional (public and private) relevance and co-dependence. Dialog between useless conferences and much needed workshops. Dialog between art as a professional practice, a part-time fancy and pro
Most importantly, the dialog between artists and other artists. Artists and curators. Artists and critics. Artists and the public. Artists and academia. Artists and buyers, sellers & decision-makers. Who are the real patrons of the Albanian arts? Its stakeholders?
And lastly, the most necessary dialog that unfortunately, has been behaving badly: Albanians and Albanians living abroad. What gives?
As we head into the New Year and pick up where we left off the conversation with our peers in Albania, let's consider this: We might be outside, but we have shown up for the exchange..
“There exists a very strong, but one-sided and thus untrustworthy, idea that in order to understand a foreign culture, one must enter into it, forgetting one’s own, and view the culture through the eyes of this foreign culture. This idea, as I said, is one-sided. Of course, a certain entry as a living being into a foreign culture, the possibility of seeing the world through its eyes, is a necessary part of the process of understanding it; but if this where the only aspect of this understanding, it would merely be a duplication and would not entail anything new or enriching. Creative understanding does not renounce itself, its own place in time, its own culture; and it forgets nothing. In order to understand, it is immensely important for the person who understands to be located outside the object of his or her creative understanding - in time, in space, in culture. For one cannot really see one’s own exterior and comprehend it as a whole, and no mirrors or photographs can help; our real exterior can be seen and understood only by other people, because they are located outside us in space and because they are others.
In the realm of culture, outsideness is a most powerful factor in understanding. It is only in the eyes of another culture that foreign culture reveals itself fully and profoundly (but not maximally fully, because there will be cultures that see and understand even more). A meaning only reveals its depths once it has encountered and come into contact with another, foreign meaning: they engage in a kind of dialogue which surmounts the closedness and one-sidedness of these particular meanings, these cultures. We raise new questions for a foreign culture, ones that it did not raise for itself; we seek answers to our own questions in it; and the foreign culture responds to us by revealing to us its new aspects and new semantic depths.” - Bakhtin, 1986, p.7.
Wishing you all a Happy Holiday Season!!
Let's strive to restore the faith in the arts and integrity of our art scene in 2015!!