Dec 4, 2013

Open Invitation | Onufri Prize 2013

The Albanian Ministry of CultureNational Gallery of Arts have announced 
a call for applications for the 2oth edition of the ONUFRI PRIZE:

The competition, organized annually by the National Gallery of Arts, bears the name of the prominent Albanian medieval iconographer Onufri, and it represents the most important Albanian public prize dedicated to visual arts, held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture

ONUFRI PRIZE aims to promote and support the vital role that art and creation play in raising awareness to take the pulse of our times, both in terms of reflecting on man and society, and from the perspective of the relevant issues inevitably affecting us. It is considered an open dialogue between artists of different nationalities and backgrounds.

This year's concept is “
Praise Of Doubt”. It is open to all artists regardless of nationality - including all mediums and techniques. The finalists (up to 12 selected) will be invited to show their work in a public exhibition at the National Gallery of Arts in Tirana. A jury of well-known specialists in contemporary art and culture will select the winner.

Things to keep in mind:

· Application Deadline: 10 December 2013

· Finalist Exhibition: 26 December 2013 – 2 February 2014

· Onufri Prize Award: 30 January 2014

· Award Amount: 500,000 ALL (approx. 3500 euros)

If we think about the doubt and the state when we normally doubt on something or someone, we generally refer to the word "doubt" in its opposite meaning, that is to say “not to be sure of”. Therefore the doubt corresponds to that feeling of being inwardly insecure.This is expressed with the words “doubtless”, “without any doubt”, etc. 
However doubt is twofold. In fact it plays as it were the double face of the same coin. Then the doubt has two faces: one negative and one positive. In its negative sense, the doubt leads to paralysis, like that immobility typical of the state of panic, which leads to nihilism. On the other hand, if doubt is rightly interpreted and addressed, it corresponds to a vibrant space of movement that tends towards something you may desire (this is at the end the reason why you are doubtful). 
At a social level, especially in the last decade, doubt inevitably affects almost everyone. There is no more certainty of permanent job (at least in the countries of old Europe). Also in countries considered nowadays as the former Eastern Europe, where new forms of democracy clash between the desire to see the Western models and the strong cultural tradition still ground-rooted among different generations. In these countries the dreams and the utopias toward a change seem to be stalemated and comparable to a state of doubt. In fact the disillusion and the disappointment among the new generations of artists under 30, who invested their scholarship on moving abroad attending MA and Fine Arts Schools, are strongly perceived by them as a failure of government policies and promises for a cultural renaissance. 
Recently we are witnesses (without the intention of generalizing all the countries putting them in one basket) of a spread tension. This wave is perceivable in many cases: from Albania to Bulgaria, from Greece and other European nations like Ireland, Spain, Portugal or Italy to the current “Arab Spring” outcomes. The cited tension is a feeling of anxiety more individual than collective that includes the uncertainty of moving outside, or staying “motionless” where you are. Furthermore this mood coincides with the typical doubtful feeling. The fear of not being successful in attaining the own desires and projects means that the dreams could not come true and self-esteem is compromised. 
Whenever the lack of confidence is analysed, an innate question raised: “Could we ever be truly confident and hopeful toward the others and ourselves?” This is an open point that relies on confidence rooted in our own primordial intuitions, such as when, symbolically the first roar moves inside. 
Eventually, our lives are definitely marked by a constant search of securities and permanency (and in all the spheres of life: the confidence in relationship conventionally agreed through the marriage or civil unions; the permanent job contract; or mortgages to guarantee an immutable and fixed property). 
Nevertheless, in the Global era of hyper-flexibility and hyper-speed there is an aspect that is entirely different respect to the past: an approach to dealing with the present that is some how new. We are perpetually torn between a time that does not seem to project us very far, in the sense that it does not delve into the past (in terms of nostalgia for yesteryear), but at the same time it does not go forward either (i.e., it has no long-term perspectives). And in this state of suspension, what prevails is the persistent feeling of doubt that coincides with “being precisely in the present”. In any event, this condition of doubting allows artists to cross the contingent moment with greater awareness. In other words, they don’t stop the search of meaning. - Claudio Cravero

Curatorial Team:

Claudio Cravero - curator (1977, Torino – ITA) His research explores the problems intrinsic to contemporary art including borders,otherness and identity on an international scale. Since 2008, under the auspices of the art program directed by Piero Gilardi, he has developed cultural projects and curated exhibitions at the PAV Turin’s Experimental Centre of Contemporary Art. In the framework of Resò, the international platform for artist residencies, he has headed the curatorial activity and coordinated the program with the foreign directions of Townhouse Gallery (Cairo, Egypt), Capacete (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and Khoj (New Delhi, India). He has also led researches and adult public activities for many cultural institutions, such as the Castello di Rivoli -Museum of Contemporary Art (2004-2006); Municipality of Turin, Cultural department for the project of Public Artin Public Space of the City; the Italian Cultural Institute of New York,U.S.A. (Curatorial department, 2004); the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin (Curator of educational program with Emanuela De Cecco, 2002-2003). Andas an editor, he writes articles and reviews for the contemporary art magazine Artribune.

Olson Lamaj - assistant curator (1985, Tirana - ALB) Has a BA in Painting (Florence, Italy) and an MA in Photography (Brera Academy, Milano). For many years has been active in various forms in the Albanian art scene and the international one. His research and artistic practice is concerned with the public space, the territory and its re-structuring, itself in constant transformation. Two years ago, his photographic project "On the Street" which presented a new compositional dimension of public spaces in Albania, allowed a six-week residency at ISCP, New York. Last year his commitment has been focused on the first alternative space dedicated to visual arts in Albania, "MIZA"Gallery. "MIZA" is a non-institutional and non-commercial space which within a short period of time managed to become an important factor in Albanian art scene and establish links with many national and international personalities and artistic structures.

For more information visit the competition website at 
National Gallery of Arts and Facebook or feel free to write at:


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