Nov 28, 2013

Featured Event | Art Kontakt Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

Art Kontakt celebrates its 10th birthday.

Contemporary Art 
Video-mapping Installation
Experimental Music
Book Presentation on Performance

With the support of: University of Arts, M.A.M, National Gallery of Art, Italian Institute of Culture, EDS Foundation, Hako shpk, Six Senses, Independent Kultural Scene, National Historical Museum, French Alliance, Embassy of France.

Participants of this event are current and former collaborators of Art Kontakt: artists, curators, and enthusiasts.

Event Program:

November 29 - December 4, 2013
University of Arts
Student Workshops.
Creative Director: Andrea Pagnes/Verena Stenke, Marianna Andrigo/Aldo Aliprandi, Ema Andrea.

December 4, 2013
Opening Ceremony: FRAGILE LIMITS 
Video, installations & projections of most significant works in these 10 years of Art Kontakt.
Bllok - Manhatan
18:00 hrs

Official Band

Interactive project of Robert Aliaj Dragot in collaboration with ELIGHT.
Bllok - New Berlin
21:00 hrs

December 5, 2013
National Historical Museum
University of Arts Students Performance 
17:00 - 20:00 hrs

Video Installation by Helona Ruli
18:00 hrs
December 6, 2013
National Gallery of Art
Book Presentation: “Fall of Faust” by A. Pagnes.
10:00 hrs

Performance by Ema Andrea/Klod Dedja.
17:00 hrs

Performance by Marianna Andrigo/Aldo Aliprandi, EVANESCENCE...NOI.
18:30 hrs

FRAGILE LIMITS, a performance by VestAndPage (Andrea Pagnes/Verena Stenke), sound design by French artist Nicolas Verhaeghe.

The afterparty is a audio-visual feast with invited guest DJ/VJ Leoanard Toma, NamVan, and others.
An intercultural dialogue process called 'KontaKt ' was born in Venice in 2003, focused on the exchange and mediation between cultures and artistic phenomena from the Adriatic area. The Balkans were considered the dark side of Europe at that time. Nevertheless, starting from considering it as a paradigm and from deep critics about how was the image of Albanians and Balkanians in general, in the common european imaginary, they tried to develop an awareness and a thought about the whole Europe through the knowledge about the balkanic area.
Since the beginning this aim was applied to the developing of multidisciplinary cultural activities, including literature, contemporary arts, history, poetry, ethnography and other.
Many activities of study were focused on the works of Ismail Kadare, highlighting his international relevance.
Detection and promotion of contemporary artistic phenomena was present since the earlier events, and considered as potential social and economic development factor, as well as a ‘merging people’ factor.
After 2007 Art KontaKt starts operating mostly in Albania, taking base there, improving the attention to the contemporary artistic dimension and to his international vocation.
Over the years several art festivals were held, introducing new techniques and creative languages within sites of historical interest with symbolic memory and common historical and cultural identity, offering a new creative vision of the monuments of culture. A great challenge in a country as Albania is the poor valid support from museums and art galleries. This has not prevented the use of the power of contemporary art through the efforts of artists, curators, critics, and mangers, through articles, reflections, books, debates, creating an original system of cultural production.
Art Kontakt is committed to the communication of experimental and innovative ideas, always able to raise issues and contribute to the discussion on the ethical and aesthetic role of the contemporary artist, reflecting on the dynamics and contradictions of our times. On the occasion of the tenth year of operations, we have proposed "Fragile Limits" three intense days of activities offered by some of the best friends of ArtKontaKt, consisting mainly of performance, a discipline that had a big part in the story that we want to celebrate. The title derives from the art project that will be presented by the duo VestAndPage, based on the fragility of the biological, psychological and spiritual sphere of contemporary man. A fragility that Art Kontakt also wants to recognize in the physical limits, the real borders and the social phenomena. This without claiming to find solutions to problems, but believing that the language of art can enhance the vision of the world and the understanding between people. - Art Kontakt

Nov 27, 2013

Featured Event | “A Different Mentality” Conference on Youth, Culture & Creativity

Another event worth attending (@National Historical Museum, Tirana) this weekend. Don't miss and don't forget to send notes, highlights, feedback, and questions our way.

The conference on youth, culture, and creativity titled “A Different Mentality” is a two-day event that aims to create an initial spark that would (hopefully) become a dynamic process in the future. 
The conference, open to the public, welcomes all youth organizations, artists, architects, designers and activists to focus on and discuss culture and creativity as ways to influence social space and consequently empowering youth as active citizens.It is the first step for policy-makers, mass-media and civil society to recognize cultural and creative importance as a necessary dimension for social development and welfare. The event is organized by the Department of Youth Policy, Ministry of Culture, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, UNDP.

November 29, 2013

19:00 hrs 

Dept. of Youth Policy Coordination 

-On the importance of culture and creativity as strategic sectors in developing youth capacity and improving social conditions.
Ministry of Culture

-Ministry's strategy on cultural education of youth and IPA funding opportunities.
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 

-Foundation's view on the role culture and youth activism play and the specific importance in Albania.

22:00 hrs
Live performance by Rron Qena & Ermal Rodi

23:30 hrs
Live performance by Genc Salihu

00:30 hrs
Live performance by Dardan Ramabaja

November 30, 2013

14:00 hrs

Alban Nimani (Professor of Design, Academy of Arts, Prishtina)

-On collaborations among youth organizations, galleries, art institutions and foundations in organizing joint cultural events with a social impact. 
Luigi De Luca (Vice President, Apuglia Film Commission, Italy
-On working with youth in film and social issues.
Andreas Ruby (Architect/Journalist, UK

-On various disciplines that constitute creativity today and the opportunities to make different projects from these fields.

16:00 hrs

Break: DJ-set (Minimim)
Free to mingle with other attendants and guests/visit museum collections

17:00 hrs


Elian Stefa (Executive Director, Concrete Mushrooms, Albania

-On the aesthetics of communist architectural heritage, artistic and pragmatic reuse of bunkers.
Vera Sacchetti (Editor and Communications Director, Portugal) 
-On the importance and nature of communication structures in artistic and cultural activities.
Merve Yucel (International Relations Coordinator, IKSV, Turkey
-On the successful projects of IKSV and the importance of international cultural networks. 
Alec Dudson (Editor-in-Chief, Intern Magazine, UK
-On creative fundraising for individual projects and the importance of unpaid or underpaid talents.

End of Conference.

22:00 hrs
Live performance by Permit of Stay

23:00 hrs
Live performance by Alban Nimani & Faton Dolaku

00:30 hrs
Live performance by Funky Villainz & Larssen


Featured Event | A Cultural & Artistic All-Nighter in Tirana

Start the Holiday Season RIGHT!! 

(better known as “Nuit Blanche”) 

November 29, 2013 
18:00 - 04:00 hrs
and also

The National Gallery of Art, for the first time ever, is joining over 120 other European cities on the tradition of “Night of Museums.” The first Lange Nacht der Museen (Long Night of Museums) took place in Berlin in 1997, where a group of institutions and galleries open their doors to the public until late into the night. Since then, it has been a successful event with a growing number of participating museums worldwide, a cultural tradition that is now coming to Tirana on November 29, 2013.

From that afternoon on, NGA will pull an all-nighter, granting an all exhibit access pass to the public and offer other happenings. It is a great way to introduce to newcomers and tourists the Albanian traditional, video and alternative arts, music, and celebration. “Nuit Blanche” becomes a “Night of Museums” for the NGA.

Program of Activities:

18:00 – 04:00
National Gallery of Art opens its doors to:

• The Solo Exhibition of artist Rexhep Ferri (Temporary Exhibitions Space)

Permanent Collections:
1. Beginning of Painting in Albanian Cities (1883 – 1930) 
2. Realist Painting and Drawing School (1930 – 1950)
3. Academic/Sculpture Painting and Historic Themed Tableaux (1950 – 1980)
4. Socialist Realism. Construction of the New Man Models (1960 – 1989)
5. Formalist painting of Socialist Realism (1969 – 1974)

18:00 – 20:00
Balloon entertainment for kids of all ages. (outside courtyard)

20:00 – 21:00 
A classical repertoire performed by a string quartet. (inside)

21:30 – 22:00
A Red Dot” performance by film director Arjeta Dhima and her staff.

22:00 – 22:30
A performance by the celebrated saxophonist, Ermal Rodi. (Socialist Realism hall)

23:00 – 04:00 
Video works by contemporary Albanian and international artists presented by Art Kontakt & T.I.C.A.
Galeria Kombëtare e Arteve i bashkohet për herë të parë 120 qyteteve europiane të cilët kanë tashmë traditën e Nata e Muzeve e praktikuar që nga viti 1997. Kjo histori lindi në Berlin. Të gjithë muzeumet e qytetit do të qëndronin hapur për t’u vizituar nga artdashësit deri në mesnatë. Kjo natë u quajt LANGE NACH DER MUSEEN. Dhe pati aq sukses sa u kthye në traditë. Kësaj tradite do i bashkohemi edhe ne për herë të parë me 29 Nëntor

Gjatë kësaj nate vizitorët në Galerinë e Arteve do kenë mundësi të shikojnë falas ekspozitat dhe shfaqje të tjera të bashkëlidhura për këtë natë të veçantë. Në këtë mënyrë, piktura, skulpura, video arti, arti alternativ, muzika dhe festa shqiptare do të jenë të prekshme si për ata persona që vijnë për herë të parë në të tilla ngjarje, por dhe për turistët të cilët do të njihen më nga afër më kulturën tonë kombëtare. Në këtë mënyrë për Galerinë e ArteveNata e Bardhë” kthehet në “Natën e Muzeve”.

Gjatë Natës së Bardhë hapen dyert e Galerisë Kombëtare të Arteve dhe të gjitha sallat do të jenë në dispozicionin e vizitorëve. Në to mund të shikoni:

18:00 – 04:00
Hapen dyert e Galerisë Kombëtare te Arteve dhe të gjitha sallat do të jenë në dispozicionin e vizitorëve. Në to mund të shikoni:

• Salla e Ekspozitave të Përkohshme: ekspozitën e artistit Rexhep Ferri

• Linja Muzeale e Koleksionit të Galerisë Kombëtare të Arteve me 5 salla (Salla Fillesat e Pikturës në Qytetet Shqiptare 1883-1930; Salla Shkolla e Vizatimit; Salla Piktura/Skulptura akademike dhe tabloja me teme historike 1950-1986; Salla Realizmi Socialist , ndërtimi i modeleve të njeriut të ri; Salla Piktura Formaliste e Realizmit Socialist 1969-1974)

18:00 – 20:00
Në oborrin e Galerisë animatorë do dhurojnë tullumbace dhe do të argëtojnë jo vetëm fëmijët por edhe të rriturit që i shoqërojnë.

20:00 – 21:00
Kuartet harqesh me repertor klasik. Në ambientet e brendshme të Galerisë.

21:30 – 22:00
Regjizorja Arjeta Dhima dhe trupa e saj organizojnë performancën “Një pikë e kuqe”.

22:00 – 22:30
Ermal Rodi saksofonisti i mirnjohur do të performoj në sallën e Realizmit Socialist.

23:00 – 04:00
Art Kontakt dhe T.I.C.A shfaqin punë artistësh bashkëkohorë shqiptarë dhe ndërkombëtarë në video, në ambientet e jashtme/brendshme të Galerisë.


Nov 26, 2013

TID Tower | Log 29: In Pursuit of Architecture

Here's an excerpt from Log 29: TID Tower. 
Also, check out the presentation below on the project as part of 
Log: In Pursuit of Architecture -A conference on buildings and ideas 
held at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC this past September.

Log 29: In Pursuit of Architecture presents the ten outstanding projects in a full-color portfolio format that illustrates the concepts and processes of each building. Together, these buildings demonstrate a range of architectural ideas and open a conversation about the production and significance of architecture today. To situate the ten-project portfolio, Log 29 includes essays by the four critics that reflect on recent and emerging themes in architecture and directions the discipline may develop.


Nov 14, 2013

Open Invitation | European Prize for Urban Public Space 2014

 The European Prize for Urban Public Space is a biennial competition that aims to recognise and encourage the creation, recovery and improvement of public space in the understanding that the state of public space is a clear indicator of the civic and collective health of our cities.
Eligible to apply are works that have created, recovered or improved public space within the geographic limits of the Council of Europe in the years 2012 and 2013. These entries must be presented by the authors or the institutions that have sponsored the public space project.
The prize-winning works, the finalists and a selection made by the Jury will be published in the European Archive of Urban Public Space, which brings together and makes available to the public the best projects that have been presented in the competition since its inception and will make part of travelling exhibition of the 2014 Prize.

  • Registration: 21 October 2013 – 23 January 2014 

For more instructions on how to register, competition guidelines and rules go to their website. 


Nov 13, 2013

Gentle Manifest | Syria's Chemical Arsenal To Take a Dump in Albania

The much debated and protested civic movement in Albania at the moment is the overwhelming presence (online and on the streets) against dumping Syrian chemical weapons in the country. Even though the process of disarming and disposing the stockpile of chemical warfare is supposed to be supervised by international experts and not affect the security of Albanian life or health for that matter, I am defining it as ‘dumping’ because we know better. We have experienced botched up jobs and shady operations for similar warfare agents, such as arms and ammunition, and we haven't been quick to forget or recover from the devastating consequences of the ensued tragedies. (Gerdec anyone?)

Understandably the immediate concern people have is their health, followed by a long list of possible side effects from the possibility of exposure (those invisible toxins can be easily spread through transportation or on site). Environmental prosperity is another main concern, because it affects the quality of life including air, water, land, crops, as well as economy, employment, health care, etc. Remember ChernobylWe know better than to rule out ‘accidents’ (be that human error, corruption, theft, etc.) especially in a quasi-stable, still developing, slowly-post transitional country such as ours. Fearing a hazardous future, will disrupt the present stability in AlbaniaEven if things go as planned (when does that ever happen?) when destroying the waste, we should take into account the unpredictable life span of its materials and possible byproducts in the long run. A lingering latent threat. Future generations beware.  

As one recent article puts it: “It will be much harder to dispose of the chemical agents themselves.[...] Eliminating such a large stockpile will require creativity.

It's a fact that Albania doesn't have the necessary means to destroy these weapons, and I can convincingly state that we ain't got the creativity either or better yet the responsibility to take on such a task. Our general knowledge about chemical warfare is vague. We have been mere spectators. It's always been somewhere far away, in countries seemingly distant from our own. That's why we're panicking. 
In shock just to be considered and selected as a possible dump site for such waste. But why? Does the world have faith in us, or simply doesn't care? We not only lack the expertise on the subject, but the relevant (no bullshit) information to educate and voice our civic capacity on this matter (shape opinions and inform decision-making). Since the story broke a few days ago, we (think) have become overnight experts, but are we able to continue this somewhat constructive dialog about options, possible actions and educational decisions, and not be blindsided by political agreements that exclude us this civic right? We've started the conversation with NO (and rightfully so) but how do we continue it? What are we willing to do, to see it through? 

In today's Albanian fragile climate, be that political, economical, infrastructural and even social, it is hard to maintain a sustainability of sorts (markets, networks, technology, growth) and slowly build upon it as a stable status-quo, let alone contemplating about chemical waste. It can easily kill this post-election upward momentum we got going on. A disruptive move that has blindsided us, just as a war would. We're just getting back on our feet. We are not ready. We are not even prepared.  

Let's zoom out for a moment and take a look at data from United States: (in an effort to put things into perspective and maybe shake up the undecided)

Stepping away from the overwhelming unease and speculative future that has taken Albania by storm, I want to introduce a U.S. project that takes a close look at these weapons, as materials that can cross jurisdictional lines, bend political, economic and environmental realities around themselves, reshape geologies and reconfigure landscapes now and into deep futures. And they do so almost entirely without notice. (via)

Look Only At The Movement explores and examines the relationship between the American Highway system and nuclear waste transport, disposal and remediation. It aims to increase civic awareness and encourage new angles of exchange in regards to contemporary material realities that are simultaneously of us, and far beyond us. 
It invites imaginings, curiosity, and logistical questions about how contemporary life, landscape, and infrastructure design will, for foreseeable futures, bend their realities around the need to contain and indefinitely move-with nuclear materiality.
Here is an excerpt of the findings: 
(my emphasis) (original article)
What you do not see is the material itself: the vast quantities of spent nuclear fuel, uranium mine tailings, radioactive medical waste, and contaminated soil, debris, clothing, tools and equipment transported routinely along [...] streets, highways and railroads.
Seventy years into the Atomic Age, designers, engineers, governments and the public have not been able to adequately imagine or build infrastructures for the long-term containment of materials that are too dynamic to be named, or understood, merely as “waste.” The United States is currently processing, shuffling and storing nuclear byproducts at some 20,000 sites throughout the country. About 70,000 metric tons of spent reactor fuel are held at power production sites in 33 states, an amount that increases annually by 2,000 metric tons. Another 13,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste is left over from weapons production and other military activities. You could say that high-level waste is “sheltering in place,” waiting for the first infrastructure capable of containing it for the span of time mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency: one million years. No such storage options are expected to be available for at least the next century.
I believe that sending chemical warfare to a country such as Albania, with no adequate facilities, technology or infrastructure to demilitarize this hazardous artillery, is not only an Albanian concern but a threat to the stability and peace everywhere. 

Can these protests take us a step further (or backward if you will) into the existing state of our territory, rundown infrastructure, outdated technology, questionable factories, unhealthy sewers, old building systems and realize that an update is imminent? We can't catch up to today's fast paced, super advanced world, or even consider hosting chemical waste if we can't stay relevant to our own society.

The above article is written as a follow up on comments I had made earlier:

Politicians are not experts, and political predictions of what is 'safe' can be proved far more damaging than what they promise today and are willing to admit tomorrow (when faced with the consequences). #DontDumpChemicalWasteInAlbania

What worries me, other than the devastating consequences on people, environment and the obvious fact that Albania doesn't have the necessary means to destroy these weapons, is the physical security of the chemicals. As in most unstable countries (Albania being a semi or pseudo stable one), this product might be (is) in high demand on the black market and as we've previously experienced (with arms & ammunition) somehow through corruption or inadequate secure systems, it might be stolen and sold to the highest bidder. Consequences that go beyond the geopolitical territory of our small country to threaten peace at a much larger scale.


Nov 6, 2013

TID Tower | Excerpt from Log 29

We've previously talked about the not yet completed TID Tower in Tirana by 51N4E and have many times speculated its possible future. You can read a more in-depth piece on this project on Log 29. Here's an excerpt:
TID Tower
September 2013
Excerpt from Log 29, Fall 2013 
The form of the tower and the cultural intentions that accompany it successfully frame the otherwise Sisyphean construction process, which mainly consisted of getting rid of bad imitations of international building techniques and replacing them with simpler solutions. With this context, Tirana offered us the opportunity to design and build in an environment not found anywhere else in Europe. Together with the client, we had to find and create local capabilities. The primary challenge was to verify that everyone involved in the building process was imagining the same thing. While the contractor could read our drawings, he could not extrapolate from them, which often resulted in wrongly executed elements that subsequently had to be dismantled. Architectural drawings had little purpose in this context, other than as legal documents for the municipal authorities. After a year of struggling with inadequate communication we managed to establish a specific way of working, which can be described as "collaborative drawing": projecting plans on a whiteboard for all team members to sketch over freely. This extremely physical way of adapting working drawings became the true motor of the process and resulted in an unexpected range of high-quality but low-tech solutions. 
During this process, the tower became more and more basic. After budget constraints forced us to abandon our initial facade proposal--a brick claustra surface hiding an inner glass facade--we found a simple but effective alternative using standardized elements to clad the tower. Albanians are magicians with on-site cast concrete. Trying to cash in on this craftsmanship, we developed a design concept for the facade whereby the morphing circumference of each floor plate was uniquely augmented by gradually shifting triangular protrusions that resemble the teeth of a circular saw. The serrations at the base are the most angular, gradually flattening into a smooth line by the top floor. As a result of these protrusions, the perimeter of each floor is the same length, making it possible to clad the entire facade with uniform precast concrete panels. The panels are roughly half a floor high and are connected directly to the floor plates but not to each other, creating alternately standing and hanging sunscreens. This rough skin (half open, half closed), in combination with the generic layout of the floors, allows the tower to accommodate either housing or offices. The gap between panels offers sufficient construction tolerance, yet is small enough to make the paneled facade look continuous. Its texture reflects Tirana’s light in such a way that the TID Tower does not necessarily symbolize anything, but rather simply highlights an environmental, and therefore cultural, condition.