This year Gallery On The Move from Tirana, Albania participated in VIENNAFAIR The New Contemporary for the first time. The founder Fani Zguro kindly agreed to tell us about contemporary art in Albania.
“Many years have past since I went to the Academy of Arts in Tirana to hear a series of reflections on contemporary art. It was the mid-90s and an enthusiasm for everything new was in the air. As I listened to the speech about Duchamp and Beuys, I wondered: What about old Rembrandt? Not only for me but for all the art milieu in Tirana, that was a sort of renaissance.
It was this period that gave birth to the best of contemporary art in Albania, with artists such as Adrian Paci, Anri Sala, Alban Hajdinaj, and others. With the naive feeling that characterizes the beginning of every process, these students of the Academy were getting ready for a long journey, one that was going to manifest within the international landscape of art. If one was to make a comparison between today and that time, when the art atmosphere breathed in my city, it isn’t anything similar to the 90s. After 23 years of opportunities to embrace everything that post-colonial society offers, contemporary art in Tirana is more castrated than ever.
Everything that personifies brilliancy in art lies outside of the boundaries of Albania or Kosovo. And in our 2000s we’ll have to mention artists such as Petrit Halilaj, Sislej Xhafa, Jakup Ferri, and Helidon Xhixha.
Personally, I would like to stop a second on the latter. Not by a personal preference, but because of the curiosity and fascination with his divergence from other Albanian artists. Xhixha immediately distinguishes himself from other artists with the lack of any infantile or senile reference to Albania, origin, or nostalgia.
Almost all of our artists make a standard reference to their past. The personal becomes political and the artwork an autocertifiable process. This is especially common for artists coming from these territories and former overthrown regimes, regardless of their brilliant level of creation.
All of this does not exist for Helidon Xhixha. He is not tempted by the past; the main feature of his work is not nostalgia or recycling phenomena of past days for the archives of current historiography.
In Xhixha’s work what takes form is the energy, with all its typologies of matter that create the events. Life as a form, art as an essential form of everyday life, and the artist that comes to life within his work.
I wish to the aforementioned artists that their nostalgia doesn’t become “hostagia” – it’s not fair that the artists of every generation remain hostages of the past or of the social problems as a pornographic show.
Because the society of spectacle is still an organic society, and what it needs is regeneration not recycling.
Above all of this, I hope that contemporary art in Tirana will regenerate once again and find that lost power, that steel that each new generation carries, because the time is now.”
Fani Zguro was born 1977 in Tirana. Lives and works in Berlin. After studies at Accademia delle Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, he worked as curator at The National Gallery of Arts in Tirana. In 2008 he was the winner of International Onufri International Prize. Since 2007 he is the founder and curator of Tirana Art Center and from 2008 of Gallery On The Move. He has exhibited at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, Filmoteca Espanola Madrid, 2nd Biennale of Tirana, 4th Biennale of Young Artists Bucharest, The National Gallery of Prishtina, Arsenal Gallery Poznan, New York Public Library, and the Center for Contemporary Art San Giovanni Valdarno.